January 4, 2023
5 min read
Generative AI has enabled a transformation of my executive coaching business in ways that I didn’t think I would see in my career.
Many of us are aware that artificial intelligence (AI) is getting more sophisticated and is in a phase of rapid evolution. Perhaps you’ve heard about OpenAI’s GPT3 or ChatGPT. However, most of us have not yet experienced the magic of AI in ways that are immediately useful and beneficial to our work.
At first, I was worried that an advanced AI could replace me, or make me less relevant. On the other hand I was concerned that AI tools would be clumsy and generic, lacking the nuanced human touch that makes the difference with clients. Now I see that Generative AI tools like Yoodli are what I had hoped AI could become, and are essential to my executive coaching practice today.
Today I use Yoodli to extend my reach, improve client experiences, and drive better coaching outcomes. Yoodli is an AI powered speech coaching platform that provides my clients with personalized feedback on their communication styles. You can see a quick explainer here.
What that means in simple English is that Yoodli can understand the context of what my clients are saying and provide qualitative and quantitative insights on their communication skills. With the “generative” part of the platform, Yoodli’s AI is able to automatically create human-like suggestions to help people improve their speaking through constructive feedback.
I started using Yoodli with my clients at the beginning of 2022. Shortly thereafter the team asked for my feedback, input, and what I dreamed the product could become. I have since joined Yoodli’s Coach Advisory Board in an effort to help the product grow and improve for coaches and for our clients.
A large part of my business is focused on Interview Coaching. In the past, I would be solely responsible for leading the interview and taking notes, all while synthesizing my insights and recommendations to help my clients improve.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a sole practitioner is that there is only one of me.
Now I have an assistant, Yoodli, that transcribes and time stamps my sessions with clients, counts the number of ‘ums’, and measures the pace of speech. Yoodli keeps track of the questions asked in the interview, measures eye contact, smiles, pauses, and even gives me insights into filler words and non-inclusive language. Yoodli makes it possible for me to focus my attention on providing useful, actionable, human centered coaching for each of my clients.
Yoodli also makes it easier for me to drive my coaching points home by providing quantitative data and qualitative insights from which my clients can draw their own conclusions. The AI even helps my clients rephrase their sentences, consolidate key points, and eliminate unnecessary language.
I work with my clients to establish what good looks and sounds like for them, then I teach those executives how to adjust their approach to meet their goals.
Yoodli gives my clients the opportunity to practice what I preach and apply those lessons at their convenience, without my supervision.
After our interview coaching sessions, my clients use Yoodli to practice different aspects of their interview skills. The beauty of this AI is that it can stand in for me (albeit imperfectly, Generative AI has a long way to grow) during these practice sessions. Yoodli provides guidance on how to reshape my client’s statements while proactively providing suggestions on how to tell their stories more effectively.
Recently I was working with Brian, an avid sports fan and a Vice President level Project Management Executive. We worked through building his professional positioning, we established his go to market strategy, and together we prepared for his screening calls and executive interviews. Brian was prepared, well informed, and he knew where he wanted to go.
Brian immediately saw the value of Yoodli, saying that it was like, “watching the tape” after a big game. And not only was it like watching a replay, but Yoodli included the stats and provided suggestions on better plays to use in those situations in the future.
In one of our regular sessions, Brian shared that he had been using Yoodli to prepare for all of his interviews, and to practice his major stories. He would log into Yoodli a little while before his interviews were scheduled to start to get in a few reps to make sure he was prepared to perform his best. Brian starts in his new role with a new company next week.
The results are stunning.
In my initial conversations with prospective interview coaching clients, I’ll ask them a common but challenging open ended question, “Tell me about yourself.”
After they’ve finished their statement, I’ll share my screen to walk them through their Yoodli speech analytics as well as the suggestions created by the Generative AI.
At this point, they get it. They see the value, and they begin to think about the possibilities of having access to such a powerful, on-demand platform, that enables them to see the evidence and draw their own conclusions.
What’s more, Yoodli’s generative AI capabilities will summarize the key takeaways from each segment of the session, and will even redline and rewrite your statements to be more clear and concise. This is usually the magical moment where they see that this AI does more than just measure your cadence and count your ‘ums’, it proactively suggests revisions to your statements and encourages you to refine, clarify, and improve your communication style.
My clients are experienced and capable executives, who have interviewed others and have been interviewed themselves dozens of times. Arming them with Yoodli and working together to establish what ‘good’ looks like, creates a symbiotic coaching relationship. Today, I get to spend most of my coaching time and energy focused on the person I am working with, not counting ‘ums’. I get to focus on helping my clients build their professional stories, understand the patterns of their experiences, and help them deliver their most authentic, clear, and compelling versions of their story.
Technology alone is not going to make people better communicators. And we human coaches alone can’t help everyone looking to improve their communication skills. However, I believe that technology and human coaches together can be an incredible force for good.