As coaches, we should be prepared for any kind of client. While some customers only require a few sessions, others are in it for the long haul and want to delve deep into the coaching process. We must plan an in-depth, long-term coaching experience for these clients and identify critical areas of improvement.
The best way to address a diverse range of client needs is to plan — excellent planning is the backbone of a successful coaching experience. A great way to start this planning process is by brainstorming session topics. Focusing on the most important topics for coaching will let you create a well-rounded and satisfying journey for your clients.
Identify your coaching type
The first step to choosing an appropriate topic is identifying the coaching type we’re offering each client. This is important as it sets the tone for client expectations and allows us to choose something relevant and valuable. Some examples of coaching types include:
- Health and Fitness
- Mental Health
Each of these coaching areas will draw clients looking for different results. A career coach might not cover the same topics as a life coach, focusing more on professional development and less on personal relationships. For best results, we must understand client needs and goals and factor them into our decision-making.
10 topics for coaching sessions
Once we thoroughly understand the coaching type and client needs, we can brainstorm session topics and tweak the content to the client. Here are ten broad topics you can easily customize depending on the type of coaching your client needs.
1. Goal setting and expectations
If our clients express an interest in setting and achieving goals, this is the topic for them. We might include goal-setting strategies such as the SMART method: Goals must be specific, measurable by metrics or milestones, achievable with the time and resources available, relevant to long-term goals, and time-bound, with a firm deadline.
Additionally, we might teach them skills for managing expectations and dealing with disappointment. When something goes wrong and our clients feel self-doubt, it can be helpful to check in on them, identify what they can and can’t change about the situation, and work on letting go of external factors.
2. Values alignment
Values alignment is integral to feeling at peace with one’s life, goals, workplace, and personal relationships. For a client struggling with values alignment, we may focus on self-awareness by identifying personal goals, skill sets, strengths and weaknesses, and any available resources to help them reach their destination. Concretizing a client’s values and purpose allows us to easily see whether our client’s interests align appropriately with their goals and will enrich their lives.
Whether our client worries about a romantic relationship or general social activities, coaching can help. From learning communication skills such as reading body language and active listening to emotional intelligence while having difficult conversations, working to improve our relationships with others can significantly affect our personal, romantic, and professional lives.
Conflict management is an example of a skill that benefits all types of relationships. In the workplace, it’s a valued leadership skill; in social settings, it diffuses tense situations. A coaching scenario example for this topic might include a practice conversation with a boss or coworker.
4. Skills acquisition
In nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s essential to keep learning. This is often especially clear in the professional realm. Whether starting a new job, aiming for the next promotion, or in the career exploration stage, skills acquisition is a critical part of professional development.
We might suggest workshops, webinars, and other learning initiatives for clients interested in this area, keeping in mind that skills acquisition can be tiring. The most important thing will be to help them improve their skills and keep them motivated while ensuring they also prioritize rest days.
There’s nothing worse than being discouraged by an obstacle when we progress toward an important goal. As coaches, we can provide immediate emotional support and help motivate our clients when they’re down, but we can also offer strategies to overcome obstacles and the defeat they cause. This might disrupt our long-term plan, but we must be helping the client with whatever they need, whether that’s a surprise promotion, a big fight in their personal life, or a financial setback.
Our coaching conversations may cover managing expectations and letting go of uncontrollable factors. It’s important to separate our mental well-being and self-worth from completing goals — what matters is that we’ve tried our best.
6. Habit formation
We form habits by repetition, and when stressed, we tend to do whatever’s easiest for us. Habit-building is difficult, but as coaches, we can help our clients take the first step.
A great start is to suggest incremental changes over a dedicated period to solidify changes to our client’s schedule. Once they’ve acclimated to the adjustment, our clients will have a blueprint to actively implement new habits.
7. Time management
When a task seems complicated and we don’t know where or how to start, many of us put it off. To tackle this problem, we can teach our clients time management strategies to make the most efficient use of their day.
A popular time management method is time blocking. We divide our daily schedule into blocks of time and assign different tasks to these blocks. Instead of being distracted by answering phone calls and emails or taking lunch breaks, we’ll assign every task a proper block. This encourages us to do focused, uninterrupted work while factoring in breaks and tending to outside obligations.
One significant benefit of coaching sessions is the built-in opportunity for accountability and feedback. While we’re all prone to procrastination from time to time, setting a deadline and making a promise to someone else puts greater weight on completing the task.
As coaches, we can encourage accountability from our clients by initiating regular check-ins to make sure they’re on track with project progress and meeting deadlines.
From the office to the grocery store and social activities, communication is integral to our daily lives. It’s a wonder most people don’t spend more time cultivating this skill. If our clients are interested in this topic, there will be many fulfilling coaching sessions ahead.
A great start is finding out a client’s favorite communication style — this typically symbolizes what they view as good communication and helps us understand where we’re starting from. From here, ask about communication conflicts they’ve found themselves in and about areas they’d like to improve upon. In following sessions, work through tools, techniques, and resources that seem most useful. We can set examples of great communication for our clients, in turn making it easier for them to improve their skills and encourage them to try what they’ve learned in previous sessions.
10. Conflict and stress management
When working with other team members in a professional setting, disagreements are inevitable. This is what makes the coaching topic of conflict and stress management essential for career coaching. To gracefully handle these workplace situations, practice conflict management strategies and techniques for diffusing arguments, and encourage collaborative problem-solving.
Additionally, we might assess a client's current conflict and stress management skills via role-play exercises and introduce customized techniques, all the while stressing the importance of prioritizing mental health and work-life balance.
Tips for delivering great sessions
Regardless of the coaching topic we’ve chosen, we must communicate it effectively with our clients. Using the principles of active listening and asking for and giving feedback, we can ensure we’re on the same page and encourage them to reach out with any concerns or clarifying questions.
When in doubt, include clients in the decision-making process. This guarantees their expectations and goals align with chosen coaching topics and that they’re on board with the action plan.
Improvement for all
Implementing new skills is always challenging, but it’s not impossible. As coaches, we should always be looking to improve alongside our clients. As long as we’ve been thoughtful about deciding the topic and preparing for the first session, starting new conversations is an excellent way to expand everyone’s experience.
At Practice, we’re committed to giving you the best tools for holding successful coaching sessions. Try our all-in-one client management system today.