Online evaluations are an entirely different ballgame than in-person. The high stakes of building a good first impression are still there, but for not-so tech savvy people, like myself, the online aspect can pose as a barrier.
Don’t be afraid of online evaluations. Here are 5 simple steps to follow. These steps not only will help you get the most out of your evaluation, but also will help you enhance it in ways you may not be able to in-person.
1. Make & Have a Good Connection
Although correspondence may happen well before your online evaluation, this is often the first time you are “seeing” your new client. That means that the evaluation is your time to shine and make a good first impression. With that being said, nothing makes a good first impression harder than not having a good connection and your first several words being “can you hear me…I can’t see you, but I can hear you.” I would highly encourage you to test your Internet speed and be sure to have a good solid connection before starting your online evaluation. I run my business from an RV and am often in remote areas, so I have made it a habit to check my wifi in the exact place I will be for an online evaluation one day ahead of time. I highly recommend adding this into your evaluation routine, or create a designated spot for online evaluations that has reliable internet speed. If you have a good connection, it will help you make a good connection.
2. Try a Different Angle
Have you ever watched a seasoned coach evaluate a new client? They constantly change positions to get the best view. Whether on the floor to properly view a spine angle or circling to see knee and toe alignment, seasoned coaches rarely stay in one spot for more than a couple of seconds. Switch to online however, and coaches are now stuck with one stationary camera view. This adds an entirely new level of difficulty to the evaluation, and asking your client to continually reposition the camera throughout the session is not a very professional solution. Instead of wasting several minutes while your client balances her phone on top of a couple of textbooks on the ground, simply ask your client to perform the same action from a different angle. For example, if you are evaluating bodyweight squat mechanics, ask your client to face the camera and perform a squat, then have your client make a 90 degree turn and perform the same squat. By doing this you are adding a level of professionalism to your online evaluation. In an in-person evaluation, your client may have not fully appreciated your constant movement, but now you can highlight your ability to analyze form from different angles.
3. Take Physical Notes
While performing your online evaluation, it may be very tempting to pull up a notepad on your computer and type notes while you are evaluating your client. Although this may be convenient for you, look at this situation from your client’s perspective. Your client cannot see your computer, so either it looks like your eyes are glazed over and are not paying attention, or worse, your client may even think you’re scrolling on social media. Either way, virtual note-taking retracts from the evaluation and does not create the best first impression. If you take physical notes instead of virtual notes, your client will be able to see you writing. This will build a better first impression and help ensure your client that he or she has your full attention.
4. Make an Outline, Not a Detailed Novel
I always recommend having a plan going into a new evaluation. Take any and all background information you have on your client and make a generic outline. However, do not expect to follow this outline directly because I guarantee that your client will throw at least one curveball during the session. It is not worth putting the time and effort into detailing every word and action that you would like to occur during a session because you will have to improvise a little at some point. Have an outline to help maintain an organized and professional tone, but also expect to have to answer questions or adjust to something that you were not fully prepared for. View these unexpected times as an opportunity to showcase your educated background to your client. Being able to adjust to different scenarios highlights an experienced level of professionalism and helps create a good first impression.
Remember those hand-written notes that you just took during your online evaluation? Here is where they pay off. Within 24 hours of your new client evaluation, send your client a written follow-up. Email and online messaging boards are my personal recommended platforms for this type of communication. Using the notes you took, draft a letter that summarizes the highlights of the evaluation and then add insight. For example, don’t simply state “during the evaluation, we discovered that your left leg was weaker than your right leg” and leave it at that. Instead, weave your insight into the statement: “Incorporating single-leg strength training into your program will be beneficial to balance out the strength discrepancy between your legs we discovered in your evaluation.” By adding insight to your statements, you demonstrate to your client that you paid attention during the evaluation and are educated enough to offer a tangible solution.
The new, seemingly virtual, reality that we live in now can be overwhelming, but with small adjustments technology can be your greatest aid. Feel free to incorporate these 5 simple tips to get the most out of your next online evaluation.