Quick Fixes for 10 Group Coaching Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes the First Time

Group coaching, masterminds, teleclasses and workshops are fantastic ways to leverage your time, earn significantly more and give your tribe a richer experience that has lasting impact. But if you are not used to working with groups, it can feel a bit intimidating.

group coaching Rhonda HessThe best advice I can give you is allow yourself to be vulnerable and let connection and collaboration take the lead. Sure be the authority, but also understand in your heart that the magic of groups is in the group

Everyone makes mistakes. They are never fatal to the program. At worst you might upset someone, but if you’re tracking the energy, you’ll know that and can easily make up for it by being real, owning your mistake and offering an offline private conversation. I’ve been amazed how in those circumstances the individuals always come back as more enthusiastic contributors who take leaps in the program.

Here some favorite facilitation mistakes and how to avoid or correct them.

  1. Too much information
    Limit yourself to 3 key points for every 90-minute period. Illustrate your point with powerful open-ended questions, exercises and stories that are relevant.
  2. Content is overly intellectual or too fluffy
    Aim your content at the average participant and then be ready to throw in some advanced or beginner concepts as needed for the group.
  3. Getting way off track or being too rigid with the agenda
    Plan in some time for interesting (short) sidetracks. Ask permission of the group before you stray too far from the agenda. “Is everyone interested in taking this side track?”
  4. Pacing is too fast or slow
    Listen for how well the group is staying with you. Adjust your pacing to suit the group. Be willing to redesign a bit on the fly.
  5. Losing the group
    Even if it’s your intention to deliver educational content in lecture mode, build in ways attendees can participate (such as Q & A, breakouts).
  6. One participant dominates
    Ideally, you want participation from everyone without one person dominating. Set the tone at the very beginning: “This will be really fun if everyone participates with laser statements and questions. To allow everyone to speak I ask that you get to your main point or question within 30 seconds. I’ll ask you for more information if we need it.” Use limiting phrases: “Let’s hear from 3 people who have not shared yet.”
  7. Weakly phrased questions
    Pithy and challenging questions are the trademark of masterful coaching and facilitation. Take the time to plan a few of these for every 60 – 90 minute group session. If no one responds right away, count to 10, then check in… “Did that question land with anyone or was that the wrong question?”
  8. No continuity
    Connect everything you present together into a main theme that fits your topic and is highly relevant to your audience (your target market).
  9. Technical difficulties
    Of course, test all equipment and systems before in a trial run. But technology is naturally unpredictable. Even the most polished big players experience technical difficulties so don’t take it hard if it happens. Your audience will understand if you’re relaxed and flexible. Be ready to switch to lower tech ways of delivery on the fly if needed.
  10. Stepping over a participant’s feelings or comments
    Always validate feelings. And invite transformation. If you don’t agree with what someone has shared, use the “Yes and…” method of validating the participant’s contribution while also including your key point.

However you tend to present, try pushing out of your comfort zone a little bit each time. Record your sessions and listen to the recordings. Notice your pace, energy level, responses. Get feedback from your participants, outside the group, with an evaluation form or a follow-up phone call.

MOST IMPORTANTLY look for the gift of every group experience. Take in the good moments and forgive yourself for the awkward ones. You’ll get better and better at this the more you do it.

I’d love to hear your questions or favorite facilitation mistakes – or mistakes you’ve witnessed in group programs you’ve attended (no names please). And share also how you lived through mistakes and did better next time.