(Excerpted from Integrated Wellness Coaching by Laurel Alexander, published by Singing Dragon 2022)
Reduces travel costs and time: Coaching via video-calls delivers communication without you or your client having to travel and allows all parties to reduce costs. Also, you can work with clients from anywhere in the world.
Increases shared communication options: Many video-call solutions allow users to share documents, images, presentations, data, and other media. Online meeting applications allows you to meet with one or more for a variety of activities e.g. 1:1 coaching, group coaching, collaboration or training. You can use virtual whiteboards, contribute and comment directly in documents and communicate with chat tools.
Reduced carbon footprint: Governments around the world have set targets for reducing carbon emissions using video-calls instead of travelling so this way of delivery helps you and your client to reduce carbon footprints and demonstrates your green credentials.
Convenience: Video-calls can fit in with the busiest working lifestyle.
Time-efficient: Video-calls are typically shorter and more frequent, which can suit some clients.
Faster access: You can set up sessions quickly to meet immediate and unexpected needs.
Cost of set-up: Changes in the way video-calls can be delivered now brings it within the reach of most businesses and individuals.
International time zones: One of the disadvantages of using video-calls is that if you communicate regularly with people in other countries you will be available at different times to them.
Lack of personal interaction: Video-calls can be less personal than meeting face to face, and it can be possible to miss out on vital body language when you’re struggling with a pixelated image or stuttering video. There can be a small time delay between responses too, which can lead to stilted conversations.
Technical problems: The major disadvantages are the technical difficulties associated with smooth transmissions that could result from software, hardware or network failure. On some occasions, the absence of technical support personnel creates difficulty for participants who are unfamiliar with the video-call technological concepts.
If you choose remote coaching, whether it’s by phone or video-call, make sure both you and your client know what to do when there is a technical glitch.
Examples of video-call platforms
Different video-call platforms offer various options and may include screen sharing, whiteboarding, recording option, Chat, ability to join by telephone, online support, breakout rooms, file storage and variable user numbers in any one meeting. Some examples:
Zoom – Zoom is a heavyweight in the video conferencing world because of the many options included in every plan and is an ideal web meeting software for users who want to simply and effectively connect with customers and clients remotely. There’s also a free version of Zoom, but the features and capabilities are limited.
Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams integrates with Office applications like Word and SharePoint, and its design and infrastructure make it exceptionally interactive. The company has also made it possible to integrate Skype for Business into Microsoft Teams.
GoToMeeting – This user-friendly software has a few important advantages over its competitors, including its polling and ‘raise a hand’ features. Furthermore, GoToMeeting allows unlimited video meetings and secures these meetings with end-to-end encryption.
ezTalks Meetings – This solution is compatible with Android and iOS devices and has a relatively straightforward user interface. ezTalks Meetings is a solid web application for video conferencing in healthcare, community and education. However, with less distribution and adoption as Zoom, you may find fewer partners familiar with the tool. In the free version, it’s possible to accommodate as many as 100 people in a single meeting for up to 40 minutes and host an unlimited number of HD video conferencing recordings on this platform.
StarLeaf – StarLeaf is outfitted with its API, which makes it possible to customize its conferencing. The company provides an extensive range of upgrades and integrations including Slack and Skype for Business, and it comes with a complimentary app for Android, iOS and Windows users.
Cisco Webex – Cisco Webex is a video collaboration software for online training, webinars and remote support. Cisco Webex includes seamless integration with Outlook and the ability to use it across different platforms including Mac, Windows and iPads and is part of an ecosystem of interoperable solutions for working remotely. It allows you to add specialized functionalities for training, remote technical support or webinars.
Some helpful tips to consider as you assess your budget:
- Many video-call plans are less expensive if you pay annually instead of month-to-month.
- Some plans will charge per user. Make sure you know how many are allowed per plan and check if you can add on users as needed.
- If a video-call software that you’re interested in doesn’t offer a free plan or free trial, request a demo so you can see it before you commit to buying.
Implementing successful video-calls
Make your environment distraction-free: Remember that your client can see you. Remove clutter from your environment, make sure unnecessary electronics are turned off and keep people (and animals) from coming into your space when on a video-call.
Dress appropriately: Don’t forget to look professional. Just because you’re not meeting in person doesn’t mean you aren’t making an impression so dress as if you were going into a face-to-face meeting.
Create specific parameters for the duration: Ensure your client knows the length of the session and keep the momentum going. Be clear on a start time and sign in early.
Prepare materials beforehand: Being organized before the session is very important. Have key references to hand which you can refer to, share or email across. Ensure you have your client’s email and phone number to hand (for any technical issues).
Make sure that your speakers/microphones are in working order: It is vital to make sure everything you need for the video-call is working before it starts. Test everything so you know everything sounds and looks good. If you’ll be video-calling regularly, consider upgrading your microphone, getting a better camera, or buying a headset.
Listen intently: Be aware of your facial expressions and always be engaged. You’re on camera, so some physical cues like nodding and smiling will let the others know that you’re listening.
Maintain your authority at all times: Don’t fall into the trap of being lax because of a more laid-back atmosphere. Conduct yourself as a professional.
Allow me to share my first video-call delivery experiences with you:
- 1:1 video-call – My initial experiment was with a platform which for my non-techie brain was so complicated, I couldn’t embrace it. I can’t remember how I came to the platform I use now (Zoom) – gut feeling I think. For someone like myself who just wants technical simplicity to get on with the more complex and interesting job of coaching and training, the second platform works much better. The moral here is to choose an online platform that suits you (not your clients or learners) as you will deliver much better and with confidence.
- Group video-call – My experience with group work has been all students and myself in the room at the same time. To have us all on-line at the same time on a one foot by two foot screen was bizarre at first. Each student took up a two inch square part of my vision, with only their head, shoulders and the occasional hand visible (not counting the cat’s tail in the background or the subtle snore of the pooch by their feet). When in a room with the students, I could look pointedly at one them with an invitation to talk. When onscreen, my pointed look (until I got used to it), would seem like an intense stare to everyone online. Then of course we have the séance-effect questions of ‘Can you hear me?’ – ‘Is anyone there?’. Now I have the hang of it and to be honest, I quite like it. Although when I meet a student in the flesh who I have only seen online, I’m still a little startled by their legs – .