Danger! Coaching Demonstration Ahead!

Things to consider when demonstrating coaching in a group

Many coaches, like me, also train coaching skills or are often asked to demonstrate what a real coaching scenario might look like in a networking or taster session for an audience.

However, is there anything you should be paying attention to ensure that your willing volunteer comes to no harm and that your group get a great experience and example of live coaching without being scared to death by what they observe?

From my many years as a coach trainer especially on short in house programmes for managers, I have noticed how often that the person who volunteers for the coaching is either:

  1. The one person you hoped wouldn’t volunteer as they were already showing signs of vulnerability from the start of the programme.
  2. The least self-aware person in the room and often not open during the demo in which you are trying to wow your audience with your coaching skills and the power of coaching per se!

One of the things that has struck me is the assumption in the coaching world that we use volunteers from the group.

Of course this is powerful. The volunteer gets some great coaching and the group gets to see that you don’t need to know (or ask about) great swathes of the background story of the volunteer’s topic. It also shows how much can be achieved in a very short demo and gives a good template for how coaching is done by an “expert”.

However there is also power in where the demo is done between two trainers on a programme. The time can be managed better and the coachee (one of the trainers) is able to moderate any difficult avenues they don’t necessarily want to explore in front of the group. This might be because it is too private in front of the group or that it may send out the wrong signal to potential trainee coaches, ie the assumption that everyone has to go deep and cry to have a good session!

On short, basic level programmes, my recommendation would be to use course trainers to do the demo, with the possibility of another demo later with a volunteer from the group. This second demo would be for when for when the group has warmed up, feels safe and understands the differences between coaching, mentoring and counselling at an experiential level. This should certainly be after they have had some practise themselves on what it feels like to be in the coach AND coachee chair and had feedback on it.

If you are a coach trainer ensure you debrief with your partner (my belief being that most coaching programmes should have more than one facilitator to hold the group safely).

Your partner will have spotted things that you haven’t. For example, you may have been delivering some input and a group member blanched visibly at something and your partner saw it but you didn’t. This may or may not be important to explore in some way.

It is also good practise to continually check in with each other throughout the workshop itself and overall programme of events, on the group dynamics and process. This “reading the room” will give you valuable data on what might need extra care and attention from either of you.


5 years ago : Oct 5, 2015

By Julia Menaul


Julia's insight, challenge, support and experience have been used to continually improve my practice as a supervisor and a coach. Chris Birbeck, Coach & Supervisor Chris Birbeck Consulting

Coaching and Training Accreditations

Spark Coaching Accreditations - Accredited Master Coach, Association of Coaching Supervisors & EMCC Member