Running Your Group Program

September 08, 2020

What’s needed to run a successful group program? From the presentation of your content to ensuring your participants stay engaged and motivated, there are a few important strategies to keep in mind.

When you get to the implementation stage of your group program, you’re ready to take all of the value you created during the planning and actually apply it to your participants! Up until this point, you’ve been working ON your business, and now it’s time to work IN it by guiding your program participants through a transformative experience.

Let’s take a look at key components that will set both you and your participants up for success during your program.

1. Strategically Guide Participants Through Your Content

As part of the planning stage, you mapped out your program content. Now it’s time to actually guide participants through it. How you present your content is an important consideration because it could change the way your participants interact with your program. You could provide the most valuable materials but without some organization and strategy around how it’s delivered, your participants won’t get the most out of it.

Here are a few things to consider to effectively guide participants through your content:

  • Start with some of the easier learning objectives or concepts. This will allow your participants to feel a sense of progress right off the bat and boost their motivation as they head into the rest of the program.
  • Arrange the content from each module or week in a way that builds on each other. This gradually progresses participants, and won’t overwhelm them with more complex concepts that should be introduced later on.
  • Be clear on your learning objectives for each module and be consistent with that message. The more specific you can be with each learning objective, the better your participants will be able to engage with your content and adopt the learnings.
  • Focus your teachings, videos, and group sessions on your program’s foundational content, but bring in opportunities to go further. This provides your participants with clarity on which content is an essential building block and actionable ways to expand on it.
  • Present your content in a variety of mediums such as recorded lessons, videos, written material, and attachments such as educational handouts or worksheets. This not only caters to participants with different learning styles but allows them to consume program content in a flexible way, such as on the go.

2. Maintain Engagement Throughout the Program

Participant engagement should be on the top of your priority list as you guide participants through your program. Most people who are seeking support with their health need someone or something outside of their day to day routine to keep them accountable and motivated. It’s not always enough for someone to want to change, even if they have the tools at their fingertips – they need a motivating force to keep them engaged. As a practitioner, this is your role!

Engagement is something to keep in mind throughout the whole duration of the program. Often participants will come in strong and might be self-motivated, however, this can be lost as time goes on.

How can you mitigate a drop off in engagement? Here are some strategies you can use:

  • Schedule group coaching calls or implement a weekly Q&A /  “office hours” session to increase live interaction. For smaller groups, consider providing one-on-one calls so the participant can ask personal questions and have direct access to your expertise.
  • For peer-to-peer accountability, utilize a group chat where you can ask engagement questions and encourage participants to share their wins and challenges. You can also set up accountability partners among participants.
  • For daily engagement, use a check-in form, or create tasks for participants with due dates and reminders.
  • Utilize quick wins to help participants feel a sense of progress. Add a fun task each week related to the content, such as posting in a group chat with new foods or exercises they tried or sharing a photo of their favorite meal.
  • Leverage a bit of competition by introducing a challenge to track certain activities or the number of interactions/participation in a group chat or call. Allow participants to earn points and/or win prizes such as a new water bottle, or a bonus one-on-one coaching session.

3. Understand Participants’ Stages of Change

Each participant in your program will be in a slightly different place on their health journey. Ideally, you will have attracted many of your ideal clients to your program, but even so, each person is unique in their level of motivation and engagement.

The theory of stages of change suggests that there are six distinct stages that people go through on the road to changing behavior:

  • Pre-contemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance
  • Termination

Most participants are likely in the action or maintenance stage when they join your program because they had to take action to sign up for your program. You may, of course, still get participants who are in different stages of their health journey or are less motivated than the others.

It’s important to keep the stages of change in mind as you run your entire program. This will ensure that you can offer variations in content or coaching style for those at different stages, or group participants together who are at the same stage. You may want to focus your coaching on those in the middle stages while giving other options for those in earlier or later stages. For example, those in the maintenance stage will require options to solidify the behavior and mitigate returning to old habits, or an opportunity to take it further. For those in the action stage, they are likely newer and open to what you are teaching and will thrive off the core material of your program.

How can you begin to identify where your participants are in the stages of change?

  • Have them complete a questionnaire before they sign up, or at the beginning of the program. You may want to give this questionnaire multiple times throughout the program to see if their stage of change shifts.
  • Consider using a personality test to give you insight into their top strengths (Try the free character strength survey from the Institute on Character), or an assessment that helps identify their motivation and behavior change style (Try Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz). You can also use this data to have discussions with participants around how they can leverage these traits to reach their health goals.
  • Simply have your participants self identify which stage of change they are at.

When you start to implement and run your program, you really get to see all of your planning come to life! Your hard work is sure to pay off, as long as you prioritize the presentation and delivery of your content as well as keep your participants engaged and motivated throughout.

When delivering your program, remember that you shouldn’t be afraid to adjust as you get feedback! The feedback and cues you’ll receive from your participants in the first few weeks, and you may want to tweak your content or your accountability/engagement strategy for upcoming weeks. Keep track of the valuable feedback you get, not only for the duration of your current program but for when planning your future programs.

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

Keep Exploring

How to Open a Clinic: Marketing Your Clinic for Acquisition and Retention

Published May 08, 2024

As a successful practitioner ready to start your clinic, you’ve figured out patient marketing and acquisition, right? After all, you’re busy enough to hire other…

A picture of a woman writing SOAP notes on her desk in front of her laptop

Mastering SOAP Notes as a Health Professional

Published May 07, 2024

A clinic team gathered around smiling at each other.

How to Open a Clinic: Software, Logistics and Team Management

Published May 06, 2024

How to Open a Health Clinic: Planning, Financing, and Compliance

Published May 06, 2024