Coaching Online and Phone Coaching

Coaching Online and Phone Coaching – Advantages and Disadvantages

Wendy Smith is a Career and Life Coach who has run a successful online coaching practice for some years.  You can book a FREE coaching session or find out more at this link

Coaching online and phone coaching have advantages but also some disadvantages. I was asked a little while ago for my views. And I thought you might be interested to read my answers

Coaching Online and Phone Coaching – here is the interview.

Interviewer: How do you communicate with clients online? What are the strengths and limitations of each approach?

Wendy: I use three different ways of communicating with clients on line. So, I use phone/skype, email and instant messaging.

Phone or Skype

The strengths of phone coaching (or by Skype) include convenience and online coaching phone coachingcomfort for the client. They are able to receive coaching where, and usually when, they choose.  For most, this will be at home or somewhere else familiar to them. So, they do not have to add travel to a coaching location at the end of a busy working day. Also, it means I’m happy to coach them much later in the evening or at weekends. Phone (or Skype with the camera switched off)  is often easier for clients who feel shy and exposed when sharing intimate feelings.

I’ve been working with clients by phone and Skype for several years now. That means that I am very much attuned to nuances of voice and other sound clues. It takes a lot of practice to work with clients, particularly new ones, without visual clues. I do occasionally work through Skype with the camera switched on, of course. Working with voice only, it is really important to build up trust and the relationship quickly. For me, much of that depends upon authenticity.


The major disadvantage of email is that it is asynchronous. It can take time to get a reply.  With email (and text) both coach and client need to agree when replies can be expected. Also, how privacy will be managed. The initial relationship can be much harder to establish. It requires patience from both coach and client.  As well as being able to choose the location and time for the exchange, there is another a major advantage for email. Both the client and the coach have a record they can refer to. Plus you can take time to reflect on what you want to write and the answer given.

Instant Messaging and Text

Communicating by instant message is quick.  Again, the client can choose the location they write from. But, there can be issues of privacy if other people have access to the same computer or phone. Often, I use text with established clients to deal with issues that might arise between session. It is really hard to get a clear picture of the issues this way with a new client. It isn’t my method of choice.

Recently in my own coaching practice, the phone and Skype have been my main methods of communicating with clients.  I usually combine this with email between sessions. Plus I use a little instant messaging and texting as I’ve described above.

Interviewer:  In your opinion, what elements need to be in place in order to create a coaching relationship online or by phone? In what ways does this differ from face-to-face coaching?


Wendy: Coaching online or off requires an agreement between the coach and client about the service to be provided. And, for online coaching this is a priority. Both coach and client need the right environment in which to work! They need privacy and the opportunity to develop trust. This is in the medium as well as in each other.

Both client and coach need to be comfortable. And they need know that they will not interrupted. This can be difficult with a computer on the kitchen table. The coach and client both need to know they cannot be overlooked or over-heard. The equipment used needs to be reliable with good security cover.


With phone coaching, you need to agree not only what time you will ring but also who calls whom and on what number. Before beginning a conversation, a coach needs to move very quickly into active listening. The success of this kind of coaching is all about careful and sensitive listening.

In using email, there needs to be clear agreement about turnaround times. The client needs to understand that messages can sometimes go astray. Special arrangements need to be made for the coach’s absence. For example, when the coach goes on holiday.

With instant messaging and text, the use of language needs particular care. Language is important – for example when working with young clients. The coach may have to learn a whole new language, particularly with instant messaging. .

For me the advantages of online coaching and phone coaching vastly outweigh the disadvantages massively. I’ve run a successful coaching practice mainly this way for several years now.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in helping people lead happier lives and feel more fulfilled. She has worked in management as well as coaching and personal development, as well as starting up her own businesses. That means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up a new business or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book a FREE coaching session with Wendy or find out more at this link