As coaches, we’re used to a certain type of language: Something that's often referred to as coach speak. Like every industry, coaching comes with it's own terminology and ways of explaining things. And while WE know what we mean, to our clients it can be a total turn off. What am I talking about?
Coach Speak - it's like Kryptonite to your potential clients
You know when you go into a electronics store and the (usually v young) salesperson starts talking about bits, fire wires, DVI’s, HDMI’s, VGA’s and a whole host of other things you thought were types of diseases they now had inoculations for but you’re too polite to say? (& hey, if you know what all of those terms are and have no problems in the electronics store thankyouverymuch, just exchange it for another type of specialist service - patisserie or reptile housing).
The thing is, when you're in that position, you start to feel left out, confused and overwhelmed. And you’re not sure what you’re about to spend your money on. So usually decided to come back another day with your young niece who can translate for you.*
*OK this is probably just me but I’m a soon to be 45 year old woman who can’t use snapchat and whose idea of a great night out these days is a childless shopping trip to John Lewis followed by a curry and home for 10pm. I’m old before my time and I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED!
“Coach speak” is like our own industry jargon. If we use it with our clients we’re the equivalent of the Apple Genius talking gobbledygook while we hope what they’re saying is wrong with our beloved macbook isn’t going to be expensive. Except that at least we know all of the amazing things a macbook can do for us.
Our clients often don’t know what coaching is or how it can help them.
Unless we tell them, plainly and clearly.
Here are some examples of Coach Speak I’ve personally used in the past:
- I help people to live their best life.
- I will help you see the wood for the emotional trees
- I just feel that I’m really speaking my truth here
- I’ll help you live vibrantly
- Make healthful choices.
I’m outing myself because I don’t want anyone to feel shamed here.
By using these terms, we’re putting this big wall up between us and our clients. Clients who really need our help - if they could only figure out what it is we do and how we could help them!
And I know a lot of us coaches actually DO talk like that to one another. (I regularly encourage my clients and coaching friends to stand in their power for example). But in the real world, people don’t speak like that.
Coach speak can be attractive in an ‘oh that sounds nice’ kind of way. I mean, who doesn’t want to live their best life? But there’s a big difference between getting a warm fuzzy feeling when you those words in a magazine/website actually thinking ‘I NEED this so badly I’m prepared to hand over my credit card details.’
To want to buy from you, people need something more specific that speaks to them and shows them WHAT you will help them to stop/start/get more/less of. They need to know HOW you will help them to be/feel/look.
They want the language you use to speak to them directly in ways they can relate to.
So think of the REAL language the people use.
Let’s say you’re a health coach.
When someone isn’t happy with their weight they don’t say: ‘I want to feel more radiant and at one with my body’. (OK Gwyneth probably does but she’s about the only one).
They say things like:
- “I feel sick when I look at my jeans every morning,”
- “I hate that feeling of my waistband digging in,”
- “I’m at a party and I’m looking at the carbs and I’m thinking oh god, I could just eat you all right now and people will think I’m a big, fat, disgusting pig.”
- “I would love to be able to go to a party and just eat until I was full and not even have to think about food for the rest of the time.”
Yes, that IS them helping to find peace with food but people need to see it spelled out to them in language they can understand.
There’s good news though.
You’ve already got the skills and experience you need to absolutely NAIL this. Honestly, the empathy and listening skills that make you such a great coach will also make you an amazing client whisperer.
Think about those clients you’ve already worked with and the problems they are having before they come to work with you. How would they describe the problem in their own words? What might they have been saying to their girlfriend about it? What might they have been saying to their work colleagues? To their spouse? To their mom? What were they saying to themselves inside that they won’t admit to anybody else?
Then think about what were they saying after working with you. I bet they weren’t saying things like, “Oh, I worked with such and such and she really helped me to find peace with food.”
They will probably say things like: “It’s fantastic. I lost seven pounds. But more than that, I don’t think about food every minute of the day.”
So what are the types of language that they would be using?
The more that you can use people’s actual words and phrases, the more resonant it’s going to be with other potential clients.
The more specific you get about the transformations that people describe and how they describe them, the more attractive and the more resonant that becomes to the right people.
Finally, do the muggle test!
Take your copy - whether it be your website or your services brochure and ask someone who’s not connected to coaching at all to read it and see if it makes sense to them. Ask them if they know what you do, what isn’t clear, what questions they have. If they can’t really say how you help people then your potential clients will also struggle to know how you can help them and that will stop them from buying from you.
And that will be like Kryptonite to your coaching business.
Want to learn more about coach speak? I've got a whole podcast episode where I lay it all out & share other ways you can get inside your client's heads to understand the language they use.