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Portion control in coaching programs — why your clients don’t do the work

As you may know, I recently surveyed coaches and other change agents about their own consumption of coaching programs. 45 people have now responded to the survey (It’s not too late for you to take the survey: click here for the link.)

Let’s look at the response to the question, “Have you ever bought a program and never listened to or read the content?


The large majority buy programs, but don’t consume! My guess is that they “peek inside” and get overwhelmed.

There are probably many reasons why our coaching programs are, to coin a phrase, “underconsumed.” As you saw above, 82.22% of 45 people admitted that they had bought a program of some kind and never used it at all.

But from pre-interviewing experts for my upcoming virtual event, the Second Annual Group Coaching Megasummit: Create Communities that Bring Transformation to Your Clients and Big Money to You (feel free to preregister), I’ve heard certain themes from the most experienced coaches. I’m going to explore one today.

Most coaches who offer coaching groups are excited to share all that they know. And they want to give great value to their clients.

Which is wonderful.

Burger and FriesDo you know about that American belief that a restaurant that serves gigantic servings (that no one person could possibly eat) is giving great value? People from other continents gawk in horror at our portion sizes, but we are proud of the value we are getting.

Unfortunately, many coaches also believe that the more information they give in their coaching programs, the higher value their program will have. Doubly unfortunately, consumers of these coaching products have the same belief.

Change agents have their clients needs in mind — they are excited to share all that they know. And they want to give great value to their clients.

But they are not informed about what actually works. As coaches, we should be concerned about the client’s actual behavior. And it’s clear that if the behavior is to not even unwrap the packaging on your course, then there will be no positive behavior change.

Experienced coaches have found time and time again that by giving less information in each lesson or group session, they are actually giving more. The fact is that the mind can only take in so much new information at once. And when your brain gets overwhelmed, you stop taking in information at all.

A kind of paralysis takes hold when you can’t take in more information. Your brain is yelling, “NO! No more!” You feel terrible. And you want to avoid feeling like that. What’s the way to avoid? Never open that package again.

Teachers and professors have known that you shouldn’t “feed from a firehose” for decades. That’s why there are classroom activities, projects, professors asking students to work in groups, asking and answering questions in class, etc. This gives the student time to pause and to deepen the learning by using multiple modalities.

Our brains need time, repetition, practice, deeper processing, and the ability to look at what’s being taught from different angles.

We also need to have the information given to us in tiny, easily digestible steps.

I would like to see the coaching community embrace the idea that coaching is all about the client getting results. If they get this, then they can educate their audience that the value lies in what you will do as a coach to get them there. The value in the coaching is not in how many words are recorded or written and handed over to them.

Have you ever taken a group-coaching program where you were given gigantic portions? What happened as a result?

Have you made the mistake of giving your clients more information than they could absorb? What happened as a result?

Let’s hear from you, so we can deepen our own understanding of this phenomenon!

2 thoughts on “Portion control in coaching programs — why your clients don’t do the work

  1. Jackie said:

    As I am preparing a presentation for tomorrow, I will keep this sage advice in mind!

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