How to record coaching sessions
Recording your coaching sessions so you can listen back to them yourself is an essential part of your own reflective practice and professional development as a coach. It is also important for mentoring and credentialing processes. The submission of recordings of coaching sessions is necessary for some coach credential/certification applications such as the the ICF (International Coach Federation) portfolio route
, MCC applications or IAC (International Association of Coaching) certification
, all of which require the submission of session recordings.
How to get permission to record?
It is ideal if you can record a session in which you coach an actual client. The best way of recording authentic coaching sessions is to include a phrase in your coaching agreement that says something like:
Your coaching sessions may at times be recorded. Such recordings are used for training and development purposes only. Before sharing any of your session recordings with a coaching mentor, supervisor or assessor, I will always ask your written consent pertaining to the restricted release of a particular session recording first. You may also request a copy of any of your session recordings at anytime, and if a recording of that session has been made, it will be made accessible to you. You may also request that all your sessions be recorded, and all recordings made accessible to you at the end of each session. If you would prefer that none of your sessions are recorded, you may also advise me accordingly.
By doing this, you can record sessions as a part of your regular professional development practice and develop an ongoing practice of listening to your own sessions recordings on a regular basis. Listening to your own sessions is not only a valuable professionals development tool it itself, but it's also essential that you listen to your own recording before you receive a mentor's feedback on it. Plus, by offering the recordings to your clients, this can become an added value in your service.
Another suggestion is to offer session recordings as a value-add to your service. Many clients benefit from listening back to their coaching sessions between sessions - their awareness is stronger and their insights and learning reinforced. Sometimes they say things during sessions that they want to remember, reuse or write about. In this case, it's valuable to be able to note the time of the session and specifically go back to this part in the session recording later. The benefit of giving your clients their session recordings as a value-add means that you can also listen to yourself coach and engage in reflective practice. You also have the option to ask your client permission to share the recoding with a mentor, if you wanted to get external feedback.
Unfortunately however, sometimes coaching session recordings can be hard to get. Many clients prefer not to have their sessions recorded and would feel self-conscious if they were. Other times the nature of the coaching relationship simply won't allow it. For this reason, we regularly run recorded sessions round in the ReciproCoach community, so that you have advance permission to record your sessions (you also give advance permission for your sessions as a client to be recorded). Most coaches understand the importance of recording sessions, are more likely to feel more at ease that non-coaches with having sessions recored and so the act of recording won't affect the authenticity of the coaching taking place between you.
Here are some recommendations for which technology to use to record your coaching sessions:
There are several ways to record your coaching sessions, depending on whether you're recording face-to-face or phone sessions:
Recording face-to-face sessions
- Conference line
- Other recording device
Recording face-to-face sessions is easy with an iPhone or another recording device. Recordium is an iPhone app that costs $6.95 and makes crystal clear recordings in wav and other formats that are super easy to get onto your computer using iTunes. If you don't have an iPhone, Sony has an IC recorder available for about $100.
Recording phone sessions
You can buy digital voice recorders that plug into the telephone and can record telephone conversations, but they seem to only be found on spy websites (?!), cost about $200 and don't have the best recording quality. For this reason, the following options for recording phone sessions seem to be the preferred choices:
Sharing your coaching recordings
- Skype: Skype recordings are easy to get and the recordings themselves are great quality. Try iFree Skype Recorder for a PC or Call Recorder for a Mac. You might have seen that the ICF (International Coach Federation) does not recommend Skype for recording coaching sessions. However, the actual wording of this recommendation says, "Use of services such as Skype are not recommended to produce recordings for the performance evaluation due to possible disconnections during the session." Therefore, if you're using Skype to record lots of sessions, and as drop outs, disconnections, fade-outs and echoes becoming rarer as Skype improves its quality, using Skype in fact a very easy and effective means of recording coaching sessions. You don't even have to meet your client on Skype. If you add credit to your Skype account, you can use it to call your client on their normal phone, if s/he prefers phone to Skype.
- Online conference rooms: There are many online conference systems available for free or for a small fee and they always have a recording option. Both Zoom and Webex have free options and Zoom is particularly cost effective after the free option. Many coaches are enjoying the Zoom experience. Online conference rooms are ideal, as you can have your call over the internet or phone depending on your and your clients' preferences.
- Conference Calls: Most conferences rooms have a recording facility and if you don't want to use Skype or a digital voice recorder to record phone sessions, you can arrange to meet your client in your conference room. Some conferences also alow you to call your client, so your client does not need to call into the conference room. Do a google search for a local phone conference provider. Conference systems we've tried are freeconference.com and freeconferencing.com, Pow Wow Now and a TurboBridge. Many conference providers have a list of local numbers around the world that your clients can call, so they are not making a long distance call.
In the process of mentoring and before you submit a recording for a credential application, you'll need to share your recordings with a mentor. There are a number of ways to easily share session recordings with mentors. Often the recordings are too big to email, so we recommend using Dropbox
Alternatively, if you'd like to listen to the recording together, at the same time, so you can stop and start at different points in the coaching session to discuss the feedback, WebEx
will allow you to play a recording during a conference call, or, you can try the old fashioned method of playing your recording out through normal speakers and pointing the speakers towards the mic of your phone/headset to be heard in your call with your mentor.