There are many types of coaching, including academic, athletic, business, diet, fitness, music, and others.\u00a0 Increasingly, coaches can work with students remotely, thanks to better phone and internet technologies.\u00a0 If you are a coach, you may be wondering how to coach someone remotely.\r\n\r\nFirst, start off the right way, including an honest assessment of whether you can help the student.\u00a0 Also, set the expectations for coaching early on, so there is no confusion.\u00a0 In addition, hone your remote coaching methods to be as effective as possible.\u00a0 Finally, don't forget about your students between sessions.\r\n\r\nI'll go into detail about each of the four areas above.\u00a0 We'll start off with the beginning of the coaching relationship, and go from there.\r\nOff to a Good Start\r\nBefore you ever have a session with a student, there are a few things to keep in mind.\u00a0 First, you should ask about the student's goals.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMake sure that you are able to help with these goals.\u00a0 This includes having the experience to coach effectively in these areas.\r\n\r\nYou should also assess your personality against your student's personality.\u00a0 If there is a clash, you may have "irreconcilable differences".\u00a0 In this case, the coaching relationship will not work well, if at all.\u00a0 For instance, someone who chafes under micromanagement or "bossy" types will not like an authoritarian coach.\r\n\r\nIn addition, you should determine the structure of the coaching sessions in advance.\u00a0 This includes things like rate of pay, frequency and duration of sessions, and managing time zones or other challenges.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFinally, you should establish the medium for coaching, and prepare your coaching tools accordingly.\u00a0 The medium could be anything from phone calls to Skype video conferences to email, or some combination.\u00a0 The tools of the trade would then be a phone, a computer with a webcam, and perhaps a good microphone.\r\nStudent's Goals\r\nBefore signing a new student, ask about his goals and time frame for the coaching.\u00a0 If the expectations are unrealistic, let the student know right away.\u00a0 It is dishonest to allow a student to operate under unrealistic expectations so that you can earn a fee.\u00a0 This is true even if you are a good coach and work hard to help your student improve!\r\n\r\nIn some cases, a student will insist upon hiring you, even if you tell him his expectations are unrealistic.\u00a0 Perhaps your reputation precedes you.\u00a0 Perhaps the student thinks he is an exception to the rule.\u00a0 Use your best judgment in these cases.\u00a0 Be aware, however, that some students will blame you for failing to reach an unrealistic goal.\u00a0 This is true even after you inform them ahead of time!\r\n\r\nIn most cases, you can "talk the student down" to a more realistic goal, or a longer time frame.\u00a0 This should be up to the student, but again, make sure to give him all the information you can.\u00a0 Tell him how much improvement you have seen in 3, 6, or 12 months, in your experience.\u00a0 Also, tell the student how much time will need to be spent each week, outside of coaching sessions.\r\nPersonalities\r\nIf you can help the student with his goals within his time frame, then you should think about personalities.\u00a0 First, you should make sure you know your own personality.\u00a0 This will affect your coaching style.\r\nExample - Dominant Coach Personality\r\nIf you have a dominant personality, then you will likely do well with a student who likes to take and follow orders.\u00a0 However, you should keep in mind that in the long term, you will want to coach the student out of this behavior.\u00a0 That is the only way a student will grow: by learning to think for himself and overcome challenges on his own.\r\nOn the other hand, there will be trouble if your student also has a dominant personality.\u00a0 He will want to control the sessions and relationship at every turn.\u00a0 This will conflict with your style, and one of two things will happen.\u00a0 Either one of you will break while silently resenting the other, or the coaching relationship will end on a bad note.\r\nIf you do not have a dominant coach personality, you might be more inclined to guide students in their journey.\u00a0 Instead of ordering your student around, you will answer questions and let him learn more on his own.\u00a0 This will speed his path to independence and mastery of your discipline.\r\n\r\nHowever, some students might be "lost souls", or are looking for strong guidance to give them purpose.\u00a0 A coach with a less dominant style might not be able to provide this purpose.\r\n\r\nRemember that you can alter your style slightly based on the student's personality type.\u00a0 However, you can only change so much from your "core" personality type.\u00a0 In some cases, the personalities will not match.\u00a0 In that case, it is best to be up front and tell the student that you can refer him to another coach.\r\nStructure (Rate, Duration, Frequency, Time Zones)\r\nAt this point, you have decided that the student is someone you can help and are willing to work with.\u00a0 Now, it is important to establish the terms of the coaching sessions.\u00a0 You should communicate your rate: the cost per hour, week, month, or for some other term.\u00a0 However you decide to do it, make sure that the rate and time commitment are clear.\r\n\r\nIn addition, communicate the length of the coaching sessions.\u00a0 For example, decide if you will meet for an hour once per week, or 30 minutes twice per week.\u00a0 A student who needs more frequent encouragement and feedback might do better with more frequent meetings.\u00a0 Also, a student looking for faster results might wish to meet with you more frequently or for longer sessions.\r\n\r\nFinally, working remotely means that your students could be anywhere on Earth!\u00a0 Make sure to find out what time zone your student resides in.\u00a0 Then, calculate the lag (make sure you go in the proper direction when converting times!).\r\n\r\nIn these cases, it is probably best to decide on set meeting days and times each week.\u00a0 The difference in time zones will make collaboration difficult.\u00a0 Always include your time zone (for example,\u00a0 "EST" or Eastern Standard Time) when you suggest a meeting time in an email or on a call.\r\nMedium\r\nNow you have "signed" your student by agreeing on a rate and meeting times.\u00a0 It is time to consider how you will communicate.\u00a0 This will depend on what you are coaching for, and the type of feedback you need to give.\u00a0 Remember that you can also use any combination of these methods.\u00a0 Ultimately, you will need to decide what works for you, by tweaking your methods.\r\n\r\nFirst, you can simply use a phone call to communicate.\u00a0 This allows you to communicate without the overhead of a computer.\u00a0 Also, it does not require an internet connection capable of supporting video calls.\u00a0 If you are doing academic coaching, you may be able to walk a student through a concept over the phone.\u00a0 You can also ask questions about challenges and achievements during the week over the phone.\r\n\r\nYou can also use email to communicate with students.\u00a0 This is a good supplement to phone conversations.\u00a0 If there is any confusion over the phone, you can send an email with attached pictures.\u00a0 You can either draw pictures on your computer, or draw them by hand and scan them in.\u00a0 I find that email is also a great way to send reminders about meetings and work.\u00a0 You can also do this by text.\r\n\r\nIn addition, you can use video conferencing, such as with Skype, to communicate.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThis method might be necessary if you need to give feedback on a student's technique.\u00a0 For instance, in fitness or sports training, you will need to critique and correct a student's form.\r\n\r\nYou can also use have a student send you pictures or video.\u00a0 Then, you can review them on your own schedule.\u00a0 However, the best feedback will be in real time, so that a student can improve right way.\u00a0 After all, you don't want a student to spend even one extra day using the wrong form!\r\nTools of the Trade\r\nThe tools you need will depend on what you teach, and how you communicate.\u00a0 Obviously, you need a cell phone for calls.\u00a0 You need a computer and an internet connection for email.\u00a0 The internet connection should be strong for video conferences.\u00a0 If you are going to scan in handwritten plans or pictures for your students, then you should have a scanner or copier.\r\n\r\nIn addition, you should have some type of software that allows you to keep track of students.\u00a0 This will make it easier to log session information and update plans between calls.\r\n\r\nFinally, you should consider some type of billing software.\u00a0 First, this will allow you to keep track of the session time and hourly rate for each client.\u00a0 You can also keep track of what you have charged, and what you still need to bill for\r\n\r\nYou can certainly keep track of this information with pen and paper. \u00a0 However, a software system will make it easier on you.\u00a0 Also, some of this software "talks" directly with tax software like TurboTax.\u00a0 This will make your life easier when tax season rolls around in April!\r\nExpectations for Coaching\r\nBefore you start working with a student, you should make your expectations clear.\u00a0 Sometimes, you might need to remind the student along the way.\u00a0 Making expectations clear and sticking to them prevents you and the student from wasting each other's time.\r\nConsiderate Use of Time\r\nIt is inevitable that someone will have to cancel or reschedule eventually.\u00a0 When you need to reschedule, give your student as much notice as possible.\u00a0 Use email, text, and\/or voicemail to let him know.\u00a0 On the other hand, ask your student to give you at least a day's notice for cancellations.\u00a0 That way, you can take on another student, or another commitment, during that time.\r\n\r\nIn the case of repeated cancelled or rescheduled meetings, consider whether the student is taking the coaching seriously.\u00a0 You should also consider charging for cancelled sessions with less than 24 or 48 hours' notice.\u00a0 If there is no penalty, then your student might start to cancel and reschedule meetings carelessly.\r\n\r\nYou should encourage your student to make the most of the time you have in coaching sessions.\u00a0 In addition, you should also be fully present, and 100% engaged in the meeting.\u00a0 If a student does not have enough questions to fill up the available time, encourage him to think of more for next time.\u00a0 You can also have some questions prepared to prompt your student to share more about the struggles of the week.\r\nAccountability\r\nAs a coach, you should be a knowledgeable resource for your student.\u00a0 You should also go the extra mile to answer any questions to the best of your ability.\u00a0 In addition, you should take any other responsibilities seriously.\u00a0 This includes sending out session summaries, answers to questions, and billing statements.\r\n\r\nRemember that accountability is a two way street - and remind your student of this!\u00a0 For every hour spent with you, your student may need to spend 3, 5, or even 10+ hours per week practicing on his own.\u00a0 As the coach, your job is to help your student to improve as quickly as possible.\u00a0 The student's job is to put in the time to practice consistently!\r\nCommitment\r\nIf you agree to coach a student for a length of time, be sure that you can reasonably commit to that.\u00a0 Leaving your student in the middle of a program is a terrible way to build your reputation!\u00a0 Even if you want to quit coaching and take a job, you should make plans to finish coaching your current students.\u00a0 If you cannot do that, then make arrangements to find another coach to fill the gap.\r\n\r\nYou should also impress upon your student the importance of making a commitment to improve.\u00a0 The student should have a goal in mind, believe he can achieve it, and take steps necessary to make it happen.\u00a0 As the coach, you will help to set a realistic goal, break it into steps, and guide the student along the way.\r\nPreparation\r\nYou and your student should both be completely prepared for meetings.\u00a0 As the coach, you need to review the student's profile and any relevant information that you have recorded.\u00a0 Prepare questions for the meeting, which should be specific to the student and his goals.\u00a0 Make the questions open-ended, or ask questions that have follow-ups.\r\nExample\r\nDid you have a chance to try the strategy that we discussed at our last meeting?\r\nDid you notice any improvement?\u00a0 What specifically improved?\r\nWas there anything that got worse, or did not improve?\u00a0 What specific things?\r\nKnowing what you want to discuss in advance will give the meetings structure, and will prevent wasted time.\u00a0 You can also send some of these questions to your student before the meetings.\u00a0 It is always a good idea to think about what went well, what went wrong, and how to improve.\r\n\r\nYour student should prepare by reflecting on some of the questions mentioned above.\u00a0 He should also bring relevant questions to the meeting.\u00a0 You might also ask your student to keep a log of how much time he spent practicing each day.\u00a0 Keeping track of the time might reveal the time of day that is best for the most rapid improvement.\r\nNo Distractions\r\nFinally, both you and your student should commit to a meeting free of distractions. If you are chatting via Skype, this means no YouTube, Pandora, or anything of the sort running in the background.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe only exception for either coach or student is a spreadsheet or text file with your meeting notes.\u00a0 You should also silence or turn off your phone!\r\n\r\nThe same applies to phone meetings.\u00a0 You and your student should not be eating, doing laundry, or multitasking in any way while on a call.\r\n\r\nEven when sending out emails to your student, don't try to multitask.\u00a0 Otherwise, the content or message of the email could be unclear or confusing.\u00a0 This will annoy your student, and it will waste time for both of you.\r\nRemote Coaching Methods\r\nTo coach someone remotely, there are a few different methods you can use to be more effective.\u00a0 First, you should be prepared with an agenda, but you should let the student start off the conversation.\u00a0 You should also help the student to develop habits that support his goals.\r\n\r\nIn addition, you should encourage the student when he does good work, but also call him out when he falls short of a commitment.\u00a0 Finally, you should act as a mirror, so the student can see his own strengths and weaknesses.\u00a0 Eventually, you won't tell him what is wrong; instead, you will lead him along so that he can see it for himself!\r\nLet the Student Start\r\nIt can be tempting to push your agenda on the student.\u00a0 You are the coach, after all.\u00a0 However, make sure that you answer at least one big question before jumping in to your agenda.\u00a0 This shows the student that you are sensitive to his concerns.\u00a0 It also allows you to see where the student is struggling, or where his doubts are coming from.\r\nHabits Lead to Goals\r\nIt is important to set goals, so that you and your student know when your work is complete.\u00a0 However, setting goals without a plan for action is destined for failure.\r\n\r\nFor instance, let's say your goal is to maintain a clean house.\u00a0 Keeping a clean house is not an event, but rather, it is a lifestyle.\u00a0 You can either spend one day of the week cleaning extensively, or spread out the tasks throughout the week, a little each day.\u00a0 If you only clean up when the mess becomes overwhelming, you are not keeping a clean house.\u00a0 You are reacting to what you don't want: a messy house.\r\n\r\nThe same can be said for gaining muscle, or losing weight, or any other goal.\u00a0 You should not be passive until you see something you don't want, and then fight it.\u00a0 Instead, you should set up actions that become a habit.\u00a0 These habits should support your goals, and make them happen automatically.\r\nExample\r\nYour student wants to lose 20 pounds, and keep the weight off.\u00a0 A bad plan would be "run every day until the weight comes off."\r\nInstead, you should create an action plan that, when repeated, will create the right habits.\u00a0 These habits will lead naturally to weight loss.\u00a0 In addition, if your student keeps with the habits, he will keep the weight off, as intended.\r\nIn this case, you might tell your student to run every other day, and lift some weights every other day.\u00a0 He should spend one hour per day exercising.\u00a0 This should be done at the same time every day, followed by a healthy breakfast.\u00a0 He should also plan for a healthy lunch and dinner.\r\nAll of this would be overwhelming at once, so you might start off with running every other day until the habit is established.\u00a0 Then, add in weightlifting every other day.\u00a0 Then, add in healthy breakfasts, and so on, until the healthy habits are firmly in place.\u00a0 If the goal has not already happened, it will happen in time, with the right habits in place.\r\nHelping your students to see how the right habits lead to making goals can help them in other areas of their lives: career, relationship, and so forth.\r\nEncourage and Call Out\r\nYou should encourage your student in his goals, and praise him when he does good work.\u00a0 However, don't let repeated slip-ups go unnoticed.\u00a0 If you pretend nothing is wrong, that does not serve you or your student.\u00a0 Call out the student when he makes mistakes, and help him to improve.\u00a0 If practice is not leading to improvement, find out why by asking the right questions.\r\nAct as a Mirror\r\nAs a coach, part of your job is to help the student grow in such a way that the general skills he learns can be used in many areas of life.\u00a0 One such skill is reflection, or seeing things as they really are.\u00a0 This includes seeing yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses.\r\n\r\nAt first, you may need to call out a student on weaknesses and mistakes, as stated previously.\u00a0 However, in time, the student will be able to recognize his own mistakes.\u00a0 Allow him to do this, and ask questions that "lead the witness" ever so slightly.\r\n\r\nFor instance, ask the student to walk you through a technique.\u00a0 When forced to slow down and think about the steps, he might realize what is going wrong.\u00a0 Then, you can discuss how to improve.\r\nBetween Sessions\r\nThe time between sessions is just as important as the time spent in sessions.\u00a0 As the coach, you can send out reminders, update student information, prepare answers to questions, and plan the next meeting.\u00a0 As the student, you can spend time practicing what you learned, think up questions for the next session, and reflect on your performance during the week.\r\nReminders and Clarification\r\nBetween sessions, you should send reminders to your student.\u00a0 This could mean reminders about strategies, tactics, and techniques you discussed.\u00a0 It could also mean reminders about preparing the next meeting by reflecting on this week's performance.\u00a0 If your student has any questions, you should respond promptly with clarification.\u00a0 It is worth making a note of these questions on the student's profile.\r\nProfile Updates\r\nI already mentioned that you should keep a profile for each student.\u00a0 This includes information such as duration and frequency of meetings, rate of pay, goals, action plan and habits, and weekly progress.\u00a0 You should also log meeting notes along with the student profile, so that you can update accordingly.\r\n\r\nFor instance, one of your students meets a goal and sets a new one.\u00a0 You should keep track of that in the meeting log.\u00a0 Then, update his profile to reflect the new goal.\u00a0 It is a good idea to send some version of the meeting log to your student each week.\u00a0 It does not need be as detailed as the version you keep.\u00a0 However, it can give the student a good recap of the meeting, and remind him of what to work on.\r\nHave an Agenda\r\nAn agenda helps you to run smoother meetings.\u00a0 First, it gives you an outline of what you want to discuss during the meeting.\u00a0 An agenda also keeps you on track, since you don't spend too much time on any one topic.\u00a0 In addition, it gives you time to answer student questions at the beginning and end of the session.\r\n\r\nIf you sometimes run out of time during meetings, it is a good idea to rank the items by importance.\u00a0 You can always send an email with information about less important items later.\r\nWrite Notes and Reflect\r\nThis is really for your student, but as the coach, it is your job to remind him to do this!\u00a0 Practice makes perfect, but you will gain much more from practice when it is mindful.\u00a0 When something goes well, think about the causes.\u00a0 When a mistake is made, think about the source of the error.\r\n\r\nLook for repeated mistakes, and think about how you can prevent these mistakes from happening.\u00a0 It all comes down to habits, so think about establishing repeatable actions that will help to prevent these mistakes.\r\nConclusion\r\nRemote coaching can work well, when done correctly.\u00a0 Some students may be hesitant to hire a remote coach.\u00a0 They might think that they will not receive the same level of care and feedback as they would in person.\r\n\r\nIt is your job to leverage technology to provide the best experience possible, and be available to your students.\u00a0 If you want to learn more about the equipment I use, check out my post on the best telecommuting tools.\r\n\r\nI hope this answers some of your questions about remote coaching.\u00a0 Please leave any comments below.