How to Get The Most from a Coaching Session (Using the Re-Write Method)

I am a huge proponent of coaching. (I have my coach to thank for much of my action and success.)

Whether you’re paying for coaching, you have a mentor, a close friend, or all of the above, it’s crucial to take each conversation and capture all of the useful advice and action items.

One of the hardest parts of being in a coaching situation is capturing and taking action on all of the great pieces of advice you receive.

If you’re like me, you may find it difficult to remember all of the great ideas that were flying back and forth in the moment.

As soon as I started my first coaching relationship, I knew I would need some way to record each call. I thought recording each call would solve all my problems because it would allow me to go back and revisit any conversation.

I researched and found this great plugin for Skype to record my conversations. But it quickly became cumbersome to try to scrub through a 40 to 60 minute call to re-find the nuggets of wisdom.

It’s taken me over a year to perfect my method, but I think I’ve finally come up with a way to remember the important parts of a conversation so I can actually take action on them later. I call it, the re-write method.

The Re-Write Method

Step One

During the call, I take notes on a paper notepad. Why paper? Something about writing by hand helps bring out my creativity and lets me emphasize points in a different way than typing. Plus, when you are typing during a Skype conversation, the sound of the keys can be very loud for the person on the other end (I am a very heavy typer).

Scribbling notes isn’t enough though. I tend to write down random words. I circle things profusely. Sometimes I even doodle.

If I were to just go back to my notes a couple of days later, they would be meaningless. My notes make no sense even to me when I revisit them.

Step Two

So here’s the important step: IMMEDIATELY after I get off the call, I create a new Evernote document. I name it with the person I talked to and the date.

I then retype my hand written notes (which at this point still make sense) to create a set of typed notes which have significantly more detail (usually bullet lists). I also like to indicate action items in red.

Step Three

For some reason, the combination of analogue and digital leads to the highest retention for me. I’m not sure if it’s the act of physically writing while I’m learning, or if the thoughtful act of re-typing my notes helps, but I find that I’m able to recall much more of a conversation using this method.

In case you were wondering, I still record the call JUST IN CASE there is something that I absolutely must hear again. I’ve found that I rarely go back to the raw recordings though, since the system is working so well for me.

I’m curious about how you approach this problem. How do remember important conversations?

Photo by Courosa

 

15 comments
peterbryenton1
peterbryenton1

Ask the coach to send you his or her notes of the session too. The alternative perspective can be very revealing. I suspect this is because we only hear what we want to hear.

fiallo952
fiallo952

I learned this lesson back in elementary school (believe it or not), and had used it on and off throughout high school and college, but in my adult life, totally abandoned it. It made great sense then, and still does. Thanks for the reminder!

<a href="http://www.fiallo.com/">Enrique Fiallo</a>

Daphne Gray Grant
Daphne Gray Grant

As a writing coach and as a former journalist I agree that reviewing your notes immediately after the call is an extremely worthwhile exercise. For a brief window of time (and provided you haven't been interrupted by other tasks) it's almost as if there's a tape recorder operating in your head. You just need a brief reminder (from your handwritten notes) and then you can remember exactly what was said. 

 

Recording calls is also worthwhile but I think it's even MORE VALUABLE to engage in the kind of review you describe here, Ethan. Thanks for writing this column. I'm going to suggest that my clients do this from now on.

deniseurena
deniseurena

I haven't used a coach YET, but I have some sessions scheduled.  Coaching certainly isn't cheap, so getting the most out of it is pretty important.  

 

When I was in retail management I had to make a ton of important phone calls, and I preferred typing while talking on a headset to recall important facts - I just don't write fast enough!

Rebecca Tracey
Rebecca Tracey

This is great! As a coach I've been trying to figure out the best way to help my clients get the most out of each session. I haven't started recording sessions (yet!), but will pass this on to my clients as a way they can capture the most important bits and actually remember them later. Thanks!

Seth Leonard
Seth Leonard

I think this is great advice. So often I lose good ideas to notes that didn't explain things as well as I thought they did at the time. It might even be worth roughly time-coding your notes (15 minutes in) so you can quickly find that part in the recording if you need to go back.

 

Also, on recording, I recommend Google Voice, which allows for recording calls if you don't want to use Skype.

ethanwaldman
ethanwaldman moderator

@peterbryenton1 Fantastic idea, Peter! As a coach myself, I think I'd want my client to mention that they wanted the notes before the session. Sometimes I don't take notes, or take notes in my own way that wouldn't really make sense to someone else.

ethanwaldman
ethanwaldman moderator

 @JonathanMead Thanks Jonathan.I think it's the combination of the repetition and doing it soon after the initial conversation that makes this powerful.

ethanwaldman
ethanwaldman moderator

 @Daphne Gray Grant I had always wondered how journalists managed to pay attention to the person they were interviewing and yet also get such great quotes! Thanks for your comment and I appreciate you passing the article along.

ethanwaldman
ethanwaldman moderator

 @denisesmedley That was also my concern: getting my money's worth! I'm also a faster typer, but switched back to writing because I found I remembered more if I had hand written it. 

 

I suppose with a decent headset you can alleviate the typing noise problem.  Thanks for commenting!

ethanwaldman
ethanwaldman moderator

 @Rebecca Tracey Definitely! You could even consider the recording something nice that I you do to pass along to clients. That way they don't have to be worried about writing down everything that you say.

ethanwaldman
ethanwaldman moderator

 @Seth Leonard That's a great suggestion about time coding. That would make it a lot easier if you needed to go back to the recording for any reason.

 

Google Voice does allow for recording, but the reason I went with the skype plugin is because i wanted to be sure that I would have the local file saved. Plus, if you ever plan on doing a video interview with someone, you'll end up buying the skype plugin. 

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