The Coaching Conversation

At the core of being a better coach is the coaching conversation itself. If you think about any good book or even a well facilitated meeting, there’s always a clear beginning, middle, and end. The same holds true for the coaching conversation. Here’s a simple model to help structure your future coaching conversations.


The Beginning begins with a clear coaching agreement. Here you explore and confirm the specific topic areas and outcomes expected from the coaching conversation. Ask questions like:

  • “What would you like to focus on today?”
  • “What outcomes would you like to achieve as a result of this conversation?”

Both serve to focus the conversation and create a foundation for a positive outcome that is manageable within the time allotted.


The middle of the conversation is really about helping the coachee shift from where they are currently to where they want to be.  From a business perspective, you might think about it as a gap analysis.  Although coaching is generally a forward looking process, you can explore the context of the current situation. Ask questions and prompt the coachee for more information with…

  • “What is important to you?”
  • Gather additional background by saying, “Tell me more.”
  • Explore the impact that the current situation is having on the person with questions such as, “How much is that costing you (by remaining where you are)?”
As the conversation continues, allow your curiosity to shift toward the future to explore possibilities. Ask questions such as…
  • “What is your ideal outcome of this situation?”
  • “What is your vision for yourself and your team?”
  • “What might be another way?”


Ultimately, you want to move the conversation toward a new set of actions and behaviors. Ask questions such as…

  • “What is next?”
  • “When will you do that?”
  • “What will you do differently?”

Finally, bring the conversation full circle by reviewing the original coaching agreement and inviting the coachee to summarize their insights from the session and next steps. You may also gather feedback about the coaching session (What worked well? What would you like to see differently in the future), and confirm when you will follow-up.

The Beginning, The Middle, and The End is a simple model to frame your coaching conversation. Stay tuned for more in our series of coaching blog posts over the coming weeks and months.