Communication is about so much more than talking. It involves verbal, written, and body language skills and is how we relate to everyone — and everything — around us.
But conveying ideas accurately, persuading effectively, and sharing who we are is difficult. We don’t always make the intended point or ask the question how we want to, no matter how hard we try. And sideways communication spurs misunderstandings, false expectations, or convoluted conversations — all things we’re better off avoiding.
Like any other skill, one has to practice communicating to improve. And for those who need support practicing, there are communication coaches. These coaches teach clients how to communicate effectively and overcome conversational barriers.
If helping others hone their interpersonal communication skills while learning to be a better communicator yourself sounds exciting, then becoming a communication coach is a promising track for you.
What is a communication coach?
A communication coach is a mentor who helps clients tackle obstacles relevant to their communication skills. These coaches take on a broad scope of work, which may include:
- Helping clients hone verbal and written communication skills
- Teaching clients active listening skills and how to excel at non-verbal communication like eye contact and body language
- Running workshops on specific communication techniques (including corporate communication)
- Educating clients on communication tactics for different situations
- Helping clients prepare for interviews and public speaking events and generally improving their presentation skills
- Teaching recruiters how to spot strong communication skills in candidates
- Helping clients project confidence and avoid nervous habits
- Refining writing skills, including grammar and delivery
How communication coaches help
While every client has unique needs, here are some more specific examples of how communication coaches help:
- Body language: These coaches can help clients improve their body language and understand how others express themselves through gestures.
- Volume control: Coaches help clients modulate their volume for different settings. Sometimes, it’s best to keep a polite, low voice, while other situations — like presentations — require projecting.
- Active listening: Coaches show others how to listen, focusing on understanding and retaining information.
- Confidence: These professionals teach their clients how to come off as authority figures and leaders and overcome shyness around public speaking or handling difficult conversations.
- Building rapport: Communication coaches teach their clients to make others feel comfortable and safe in conversations and negotiations. Having the social skills to put people at ease will benefit anyone — but especially people in management or client-facing positions.
- Giving and receiving feedback: Coaches show people how to gracefully accept feedback and give pointed, outcome-driven advice.
- Managing audiences: Public speaking coaches help presenters hold the crowd’s attention and field questions like a pro.
- Creating presentations: Coaches don’t just work with clients on having more effective presentations — they can help create them.
What to study to become a communication coach
As with all coaching roles, there’s no required program or certification. But good communication coaches prepare for this career by crafting an educational course that provides the knowledge base and skills they need. One way to tackle this undertaking is by pursuing an undergraduate degree in communication-related subjects like:
- Speech-language pathology
- Strategic communication
- Corporate communication
- Business communications
- Media and communications
- Institutional communication
Those wanting to further their education could consider the following advanced degrees:
- Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication
- Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Communication
- Master of Arts in Professional Communication (great for business communication coaching)
Where communication coaches work
Communication coaches can work with virtually any client or group that wants to improve their skills. You may frequently find these coaches working at:
- Businesses and corporations: Communication coaches can help leadership teams give more engaging presentations, recruiters spot candidates with strong client-facing skills, and employees improve their written and spoken interactions.
- Their own practices: Communication coaches can set up offices and offer private coaching or freelance consulting services. In these roles, professionals hold one-on-one and group coaching sessions with clients or perform contract work for organizations.
- Academic environments: Professors may bring in coaches to teach university and college students, or universities may employ them to offer professional development opportunities to students.
I’m a communications expert. Now what?
If you’ve taken a communication-based program and decided to start your own practice, here’s a smart route for beginning as a coach:
- Gain experience: Even the most well-trained professionals can use more mentoring. Network in your community to see if you can find work with established communications coaches to get to know the ins and outs of the business. You’ll experience sessions live, get a better idea of the job’s demands, and learn critical administrative skills like booking and billing.
- Create a business plan: Map out your coaching program. Decide on your services and prices. Set your financial goals and key-performance indicators and make a plan for reaching them, considering any business debt or overhead costs. It helps to do market research, looking at what other coaches in your area offer and charge. This research also helps determine your target audience — information you can use to devise a marketing plan.
- Start small: We recommend biting off less than you can chew at first. Give yourself time to make mistakes and get comfortable with the process, scaling up once ready. Work with a few clients closely to learn what methods you prefer using — and that your clients find most effective.
Setting a good example
You’re interested in helping people overcome communication obstacles, are trained in your specialty, and have started acting on a thorough business plan. We have no doubt you’re going to be an incredible coach.
A great way to become an even more effective communication coach is by setting a good example for your clients. A streamlined customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to store client data, send messages and documents, book services, and receive payments — all in one place. Staying organized means you’ll always have relevant client information on hand, so the content of your sessions is on point every time. Get started with Practice today.