1. Not having back to back sessions – this is a practical one but is key for me. The most sessions that I do in a day is 2. The most in a week are typically 4. That does not mean that you should follow my same pattern. Apart from coaching, I’m involved in mentoring, coach-training and running leadership programmes. I need to be able to flex what I do so that I do not squeeze coaching sessions in. You will know your limit – that point where you find that you are not fully showing up for a client because you are tired, distracted or have had too many coaching sessions.
2. Creating space before and after my session – which links in with the previous point. However, making space is not just about clearing up time. It’s giving myself space to reflect upon the previous session, read up any notes, journal any ideas or doing a breathing exercise. I also make space in my mind for the client. If there are thoughts or preoccupations on my mind I let go of them. I know that for the next hour or so my attention will be purely for the purpose of the coachee. Similarly, after the session, I need to decompress, jot down three things I have done well and one thing I could do better another time.
3. Checking that the technology works – if you are having an online session so that you don’t do this last minute. Rushing and sorting out tech glitches five minutes before a session starts throws me off. I log on about fifteen minutes before, check that everything works and then make myself a drink.4. Reviewing any paperwork before the first session – as an ICF coach there’s some documentation that I need to keep for my CPD log and records. Additionally, there’s T&Cs that I send out to clients and some additional material. Check that you have everything before your first session so that you can remind your client before.
5. Setting an intention – and typically for me it’s to be honest and courageous. Courage in coaching sessions is very important to me. Having the courage to ask that question that I feel might be a bit challenging whilst still doing it in an empathetic way. Being courageous to trust my instinct, the coaching process and the client.
Spend some time to think and out 5 key points with regards to what you do to prepare. What else can support your practice? This of course is not an exhaustive list and it’s personal to me. Coaches will have different ways to help them show up and be present.
This idea of presence is something that we also cover on the ICF Accredited Diploma in Integrative Coaching. It is one of the competencies that we explore in our training programme, and being able to work within these competencies is core to coaching certification.