Asking the Right Coaching Discovery Session Questions

In the world of private or group coaching, both parties deserve to enter into the relationship with confidence and coaching discovery session questions can help create a solid footing upon which the coaching relationship is built. A client who is ready to engage a coach to get them to the next level deserves a discovery session to ensure they’re trusting the right partner who can rock their goals. 

What is a Coaching Discovery Session?

Coaching discovery sessions are interactive dialogues that help both parties peel back the onion and reveal if you’ve got synergy. They’re an important prerequisite to see if the coach and the client have the right chemistry and can succeed by working together. 

Just as there is no right way to coach, there is no right or wrong way to go about structuring coaching discovery sessions. One coach’s discovery session can be many hours-long, thoroughly covering everything from the coaching approach and coaching tools used to logistics such as scheduling, forms, and assessment options, while another coach may choose to focus on just a few select points that the coach finds valuable – creating just enough of a foundation to support their budding coaching relationships.

Depending on the coach, a discovery session can come after the coach and the client have agreed to work with one another – and prior to moving ahead with ongoing coaching or it can be an initial free consultation.

Coaching Discovery Session Questions

The coaching discovery session sets the tone for the entire coaching relationship both by establishing trust and rapport and by creating the vision and goals a client will work on for weeks and months to come. It is the most important session in the coaching process. Asking the right coaching discovery session questions can help your client form a “first good impression” which will be lasting.

Before asking a coaching discovery session question, it is important to make clients feel comfortable at the outset. Be friendly, warm, respectful, confident, and purposeful. Thank your clients for the time they took to complete any pre-session assessments. Ask a few basic, “get-to-know-you” questions such as occupation, family, hobbies, physical activities they enjoyed as a child, or daily routine. Here are some other questions you can ask your client during the discovery session:

  • Tell me what brought you to where you are today?
  • What’s the one most important thing you’d like to change in your life? 
  • Why is this so important to you?
  • What is hindering you from making it happen?
  • What will happen if you stay as you are and do nothing?
  • Have you worked with a coach before?

Then, briefly share with clients your biography, if you haven’t already done so. Avoid talking too long or too much about yourself. Ask whether they have any questions about your background. When it comes to private coaching, potential clients deserve to understand exactly what’s in it for them so they can engage you with confidence. Here are some of the questions they may ask to see if you’re a good coaching fit:

  • How does your coaching program or service address my pain, or potential?
  • How will you support my mission and keep me accountable?
  • What accolades do others say in testimonials and reviews?
  • How do we measure success?
  • Do your skills and background prove that you can solve my challenges?
  • Are you a good fit strategically and personally (e.g. are our values and philosophies on success aligned)?
  • What assurances do you offer that your coaching program will deliver on its promises?

When introducing yourself, convey your passion to your client, as well as describe your education and experience. Be sure to speak from your heart, rather than read from a paper. Clients can tell when you are reciting lines, and it does not sound genuine.

Finally, find an area of commonality, if you can, and mention it. Express empathy if clients appear uncomfortable. The key is to create a relational space in which trust and rapport can grow.

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Jeannie Cotter
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

FREE Video Course: How to Build a High Paying Coaching Business

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