As an accredited coach training provider, we help people gain ICF and EMCC credentials, and we are often asked about “how to best create a good recording”. Here are our tips (don’t know if they are actually 17,5…):
You will need 2 recordings plus transcripts for your ICF performance evaluation. The recordings can be 20-60 minutes long. I would recommend not to stress about the length of the session too much. It really depends on your style if you are more comfortable with 20 minutes or with 60. Just be aware that the ICF assessors are not required to listen to anything more than 60 minutes and will reject a recording if it goes over. ICF staff will reject sessions that are shorter than 20 minutes.
If you are used to longer coaching sessions, don’t do a huge recap of what happened between last time you spoke and now, since this takes a lot of time and does not show you getting to a coaching agreement. The coaching recording you submit needs to be a full session. If the client has a lot to share about what happened between sessions, maybe offer the client two separate sessions: one on the recap and learnings between sessions and one on the current topics. Possibly give a choice: “So how do you want to start our session? Do you want to recap what happened since last time we spoke or do you have something that is present for you right now?”
You can also start by saying: “Thank you for letting me record this for my ICF certification purposes, if you rethink your decision to allow me to use this recording after our session, let me know and I will delete it right away.” This way assessors know there was consent for recording. You also confirm that you have permission to record the session in your ICF application, therefore it is not really necessary to say this in the beginning. It may be reassuring for your client. Don’t overpromise, though – so if you say “this recording will be completely confidential between you and me” it will raise some eyebrows when an assessor hears it, even though you hopefully received permission to share afterwards.
If the recording is with another coach, the client needs to be a “regular client”, that means that the recording is from an ongoing coaching relationship. To make sure that this becomes obvious to the assessor, too, (and, of course also to help the client) ask about connections to previous sessions during the coaching (cumulative listening): e.g. “I remember from a few sessions ago that you had a similar issue with … is this somehow connected?” If yes: “So would it be useful to pull this up now and see if there is anything that you can draw from that experience?”
While you are recording, minimize your distractions: phones, door-bells etc. off, dogs in a different room. If a distraction happens, acknowledge it on the recording and then continue to be fully present with your client.
Record as much as you possibly can, just in order to get rid of the jitters that we all have when we are recording something for an evaluation. Many of us have a little monster on our shoulders telling us that we need to worry how we sound or if we are coaching “correctly”, always on the lookout for some mistake. In order to get this little monster to shut up, record as much as possible. Just make it a usual practice so sooner or later you will no longer notice that you are recording.
One of the difficulties is that you need to find clients who are consenting to the recording. One way of making this easier is to ask every client whether it is okay for you to record for your own purposes, but also for making the recording available to the client later on. Sometimes when clients listen to themselves being coached, they gain insights while they are listening to the recording again. If it is a suitable recording for the performance evaluation, you can then ask the client whether it would be ok for you to share it with a mentor. If the mentor agrees that this recording has a high chance of passing the ICF performance evaluation, you can ask again if you can use this recording for that purpose. Few clients will say no.
The next thing to be mindful of is finding a “suitable” client for a performance evaluation. I’m not saying that you need a special extra client in order to create a good performance evaluation, but you do need someone who will answer your questions and not be in their own train of thought too much. It’s not so good if you have someone who is very much accustomed to being coached and is maybe a coach themselves so that they will coach themselves during the coaching conversation and won’t leave you room to coach. Someone who talks a lot, somebody who self-develops a lot, doesn’t generally let you coach and let you demonstrate your coaching or your coaching skills is not very conducive to producing a good performance evaluation.
It’s always good to have a client who likes reflecting so that you can demonstrate coaching “the who”, coaching at a “deeper level”. If the client is mainly interested in figuring out what they want to do, or in developing a plan or wants to talk about something very transactional, operative or tactical, it will be more difficult to demonstrate coaching “the who”, or to have a “deeper” coaching conversation which is required for a good PCC or MCC performance evaluation. For ACC it still might be fine. Find someone who has a real “hot” topic so that you can demonstrate the skills in the updated core competency number seven “evoking awareness”. Stay away from coaching your friends who don’t actually want to solve anything but are creating a topic in order to help you. Brief the clients that they do NOT have to help you — ask them to just be themselves.
A a client who has interesting language, who likes using metaphors or just interesting language that you can play with during the coaching conversation is also a good candidate for a performance evaluation recording.
And last but not least – make sure that the person that you coach does not have an overly strong accent. If you speak a version of English that does a lot of code-switching with other languages interspersed, make sure the English is generally understandable to an assessor (maybe by translating during the session but definitely by translating in the transcript).
In summary use a coaching client who
- likes to reflect
- generally understands your coaching questions
- gives you space to coach (so no “self coaching” clients or clients who do most of their learning by verbal processing)
- uses emotional language
- uses metaphors and can play with them
- does not have a strong accent or other speech impediments that make them difficult to understand
In order to try who would be a good client with whom it is easy for you to share or to demonstrate your skill as a coach, I would recommend trying to coach many different people and maybe giving pro-bono sessions. However, offer only single pro-bono sessions. That way, if you find that you are not a match, you have not committed to many sessions that are unlikely to get you the recording.
So where do you find those clients? All of your friends, all of people who you coach regularly, your normal clients, if they’re willing to consent to a recording are a possibility. You can also ask in the Facebook Group ICF ACC, PCC, MCC Journeys. Another opportunity is reciprocoach.com. However there, you commit to six coaching sessions with a client and it might be that this client is not optimal for you.
For your transcriptions, I recommend www.rev.com. They are accurate and inexpensive.
Files submitted for performance evaluation must be:
- Of a complete coaching session (not edited) lasting between 20 and 60 minutes. Those that exceed 60 minutes will not be scored.
- From an actual coaching session between you and a paid or pro bono client (not part of coach training). The client may not be a coach unless they are a regular client.
- In one part. Multiple files for one coaching session will not be reviewed.
- In MP3, WMA or MP4 (audio) formats. Other formats will not be accepted.
- 95 megabytes or less. Use a lower bit rate to decrease file size if needed.
- Uploaded when completing the online credential application. Providing a URL to download or stream audio recordings will not be accepted.
- Labeled/named with your name and a number, i.e., JoeSmith1.mp3 and JoeSmith2.mp3.
- Available languages in which a performance evaluation can be completed are English, French and Spanish.
If your performance evaluation fails, you can retake the exam (but it will cost you an additional fee). If you are in a hurry, you might submit a recording that is not optimal, but in that case continue recording so that you are ready to submit a new recording if the submitted one fails.
I hope this helps – if you have any questions, why not join our free coaching meetup and exchanges. They happen weekly at different times: