Own the Room: How One Leader Increased His Confidence in Just 2 Coaching Sessions

confidence leadership leadership psychology Jan 20, 2023
Cover image with a confident businessman and the title of the blog post: Own the Room: How One Leaders Increased His Confidence in Just 2 Coaching Sessions


I’m secure in my job, but I lose my confidence in important meetings”, my client, Jeremy*, told me in our first coaching session.

This is a common thread with my leadership and speaking clients.

Many leaders are knowledgeable about their expertise and feel comfortable leading their teams. But when the pressure heats up — confidence can melt down.

The problem:

Often, if you are in a position of leadership, you feel that you can’t let anyone see the cracks in your confidence. There's pressure to act as if you are always secure and in command, so you push down uncertainty and anxiety.

Yet when you can’t address the hidden doubts about yourself, they don't just go away. You can’t comfortably talk about the things that are tripping you up. You can't ask for the support you need. Which then results in never tending to the root of the problem.

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Which means not performing at your best with confidence, not being impactful and influential in high pressure meeting and presentations, and potentially not getting that next level promotion that you deserve.

This is exactly what was happening for Jeremy.

What’s the solution?

When Jeremy and I first began working together, he told me he wanted to work on basic communication skills. He wanted to sound more commanding and articulate when he spoke in high pressure meetings. And he wanted to be comfortable when speaking to the CEO or when presenting to important clients.

We began working on those specific skills in our first session.

At first, I taught him my tried-and-trusted structure for impromptu speaking, which he quickly mastered, and was excited to try out at work.

At that point he didn’t mention anything about his confidence.

But, as I listened to Jeremy speak in that first session, I noticed a thread running through everything he said about himself.Although he was in a prominent leadership position, I could see that he didn’t believe he deserved to have a commanding presence in the room.

He was devaluing his contributions and his opinions.

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It was clear that his perspective was insightful, and if he felt more confident, he would add value to every discussion. And if he was more vocal about his insights and ideas, he would be seen as a more dynamic and indispensable leader.

He would bring even more value to his company.

Yet he was holding himself back because he worried about stepping on anyone’s toes.

He kept his most valuable thoughts to himself because he wanted to be a “nice guy” — he didn’t want to rock the boat.

But his lack of assertiveness was holding him back professionally.

Not only that, but his lack of confidence was also preventing his company from hearing his unique and valuable ideas. They weren't receiving the full benefit of his intelligence.

It was a lose-lose situation.

If you can’t be vocal with your thoughts and ideas, your value will stay hidden.

When you can command the room, and when you have the confidence to be vocal about your ideas, everyone wins.

You win because you will be seen as a commanding and confident leader. The company wins because they know that they can trust you to add value to the organization which ultimately adds to their bottom line.

It requires more than skill.

There are hundreds of programs that will help you build your leadership and speaking skills. There are thousands of coaches that will teach you everything great leaders and speakers need to excel.

But, while those programs may give you the right skills, they don’t address the hidden blocks that prevent you from reaching your full potential.

In Jeremy’s coaching sessions we didn’t only address the skills he needed to be more vocal and more confident.

Because implementing the right skills is only half the equation.

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The other half of the equation is dealing with anything that blocks your confidence when it comes to using those skills to their fullest.

To reach your highest levels of performance you need both side of the equation – the skills and the psychology.

With the right psychological tools, you can clear out whatever is preventing you from performing at your absolute best . You can address what lies underneath your behaviors so that you can effortlessly apply the skills you need to excel.

Have you ever had the experience of learning a new soft skill — one you can clearly see will improve your performance — but you don’t take action to implement it?

When that happens, it is a clear sign that hidden blocks lurk underneath the surface that must be addressed for you to achieve the results you want.

If you want to reach your personal best, you have to use both sides of the equation — the skills AND the psychology. 

The process.

Coaching is a collaborative process, so at the start of our session, I asked Jeremy what his goals were for our time together. He said he wanted to have the skills to be more articulate in meetings, anytime he spoke in an impromptu style (without preparation).

First, we focused on the skills he needed to reach his goal. Then I taught him a speaking structure that he could use anytime he spoke to help him sound like an articulate leader and easily get his ideas across.

While he was practicing those skills in the session, I noticed a pattern.

I said, “Jeremy, when you speak, it seems you are holding yourself back, as if you don’t feel you are allowed to take up space.”

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His surprise at my comment showed on his face. He said it felt like I was seeing right through him.

“You’re absolutely right”, he said, “I don’t always trust myself.”

With that hidden block in mind, we began utilizing tools from evidence-based psychology. This allowed us to uncover the hidden issues behind what was holding him back from trusting himself to speak up with a commanding presence.

Then we addressed those issues head on.

By the end of the session, he was ready to go out and try what he had learned in his next meeting.

To help anchor the new tools, I recommended that Jeremy practice between sessions. He used my client's favorite practice tool, Yoodli, to get real time practice (with AI feedback).  In tandem, he incorporated a daily personalized practice to boost his confidence.

He later told me that when I pointed out how he was hesitant to take up space, that this was an “Aha!” moment for him. He reported that it was a blind spot that he couldn’t have seen by himself.

He knew that he wasn’t fully comfortable speaking up, but he didn't understand why. Without an outside eye to guide him, this issue would continue to get in the way, causing him distress and holding him back from performing at his best.

In our second session we continued to work on his confidence. This time, we used another evidence-based psychology tool to enhance and deepen his confidence. This technique helped to clear out the thoughts that “nice guys aren’t assertive”, and replace them with the confidence to speak up with ease.

Jeremy was astonished with the results.

“I can’t believe what a difference this makes”, he said.

He told me after just two sessions, with the combination of the new skills plus the deeper psychology work, he felt more confident.

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He told me he was prepared to be more vocal.

He was feeling better speaking up in meetings.

He felt calm, confident, and ready to own the room.

This was not a cosmetic fix. This was not a skill that he tried once and then forgot about.

This was a permanent shift.

With just two sessions, Jeremy now has the skills to speak up and be articulate, clear, and succinct in meetings. And combined with those skills, he has tools from evidence-based psychology to boost his confidence.

Jeremy got real results that will last a lifetime. 

What this means for you.

When you are working on improving your leadership soft skills, such as communication, speaking, or executive presence, remember that you need to think about the full equation.

The skills + the psychology = real results that last

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The first part of the equation is to get clear about skills you need to improve. Then seek out someone who can teach you those skills, whether it is a coach, a mentor, a book, or even a youtube video.

The second part is the psychology. Here, you need to get introspective and look inside.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is there anything that prevents me from implementing this new skill?
  2. Is there anything I am afraid of?
  3. Are there any internal beliefs that tell me I don’t deserve to have success in this area?

Try not to judge the answers, but instead be kind and understanding with yourself. You are human, after all.

Get curious about what you need to do to make an internal shift.

It can help to talk this out with another person that you trust, journal about it, or seek out a coach who can help expedite the process.

The key to increasing your leadership skills and confidence is to practice both sides of the equation, the skills and the psychology, so you can make lasting change as you accelerate your leadership abilities.

And when you have done the math on both sides of the equation, you will be unstoppable.


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*Name changed to protect privacy.



Want to build your leadership skills faster?

If you'd like the ability to own every room you walk into and accelerate your leadership confidence, communication tools, and speaking skills, book a call with me today.

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About Carissa:

As a strategic leadership coach and licensed psychotherapist, I offer customized programs to increase effective communication, powerful leadership presence, bold confidence, and influential speaking skills.

More than your typical leadership or communication training, we get underneath the obvious to deal with the real issues that can create cracks in the foundation of your leadership. Once that foundation is firm, we strategically build up the necessary skills that increase your impact and influence as a leader who gets results.