Home » Blog » The Art Of Maintaining Presence During Coaching Sessions

“In the dance of coaching, presence is our guiding rhythm. It’s about being fully present yet gracefully responsive. When we bring our whole selves into the coaching space, without judgement or distraction, we create an environment where magic happens and transformation becomes possible.” Sophia Casey, Leadership Coach

In the realm of coaching, presence is the key that unlocks transformative experiences. As coaches, the ability to cultivate and maintain a state of unwavering presence is crucial to fostering deep connections and empowering clients. It helps coaches create a safe and non-judgemental space, fostering client vulnerability and openness.There are two techniques that coaches can leverage on their journey of maintaining presence : active listening and mindful breathing. Through active listening, the coaches immerse themselves in the clients’ words, demonstrating genuine empathy and creating a safe space for open sharing. Embracing moments of silence allows them to absorb their thoughts and emotions, leading to powerful insights. Mindful breathing serves as an anchor to the present moment, enhancing awareness and reducing distractions. It enables them to respond with clarity and intention, fostering a deeper connection with the clients.

Ancient teachings offer invaluable insights into the realm of emotional intelligence. Drawing inspiration from Stoic philosophy and Buddhist teachings, coaches can embrace emotions as an integral part of the coaching journey. By applying the Stoic principle of recognising emotions as opportunities for growth and learning, we can help clients develop a healthy relationship with their feelings. Similarly, the Buddhist philosophy of mindfulness teaches us to observe emotions without judgement, creating a compassionate space for clients to explore and understand their emotional landscape.

By integrating these ancient teachings into our coaching sessions, we foster a profound sense of presence that extends beyond words, allowing us to connect with our clients on a deeper, more empathetic level.

The Power of Stillness: Tapping into Ancient Wisdom

In the fast-paced world we live in, finding moments of stillness becomes increasingly vital for maintaining presence as coaches. Ancient wisdom traditions, such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism, offer profound teachings on the power of stillness and silence. By incorporating these practices into our coaching sessions, we can create a space for reflection and deep introspection. Encouraging our clients to embrace stillness allows them to quiet the noise of their minds, tune into their inner wisdom, and gain clarity and insight. The art of silence enables us to listen to the whispers of our clients’ souls, fostering a deeper connection and facilitating transformative breakthroughs.

Authenticity and Vulnerability: Embracing the Human Connection

Ancient teachings remind us of the importance of authenticity and vulnerability in our interactions. By embracing our own humanness and being open about our own struggles and challenges, we create a safe and supportive environment for our clients to do the same. Sharing our authentic selves allows us to connect on a deeper level, fostering trust and rapport. The vulnerability we exhibit encourages our clients to let their guard down, enabling them to explore their true selves and tap into their potential. Through this authentic connection, we maintain a powerful presence that inspires growth and transformation.

Zen Buddhism

Zen teachings emphasise the practice of mindfulness and presence in daily life. Through practices such as seated meditation (zazen) and mindful walking (kinhin), practitioners seek to develop deep awareness and awaken to the present moment.


Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote mindfulness and presence. By synchronising breath with movement, practitioners learn to be fully present in their bodies and minds.

Tai Chi

Originating in ancient China, Tai Chi is a martial art form that emphasises slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. It cultivates a sense of mindfulness, balance, and presence, promoting a harmonious connection between the mind and body.

Tony Robbins, a well-known life coach and motivational speaker, emphasises the significance of presence in coaching. He believes that being fully present with clients allows coaches to pick up on subtle cues, connect on a deeper level, and create a safe space for transformation. John Whitmore, renowned author of “Coaching for Performance,” emphasises the pivotal role of presence in coaching. According to Whitmore, presence entails the art of being fully engaged in the present moment with an open mind and an open heart. It involves giving undivided attention to the client, listening deeply, and creating a safe and supportive environment. Whitmore asserts that presence is essential because it enables coaches to establish a space where clients feel seen, heard, and understood. By being fully present, coaches can tune in to their clients’ needs, emotions, and concerns, fostering a sense of trust and connection. This safe space allows clients to explore their challenges, tap into their potential, and discover their own solutions with guidance and support from the coach.

A worldwide-known coaching magazine known as “Coaching World Magazine” also explores practical strategies and techniques for cultivating presence in coaching. They often feature articles on mindfulness practices, breathwork exercises, and self-reflection exercises that coaches can incorporate into their routines to enhance their presence. These practices help coaches quiet their internal noise, centre themselves, and create a space of focused attention and responsiveness.

The Harvard Business Review’s perspective on presence in coaching and the International Coach Federation’s (ICF) stance on the topic

Harvard Business Review (HBR):

The Harvard Business Review has recognised the significance of presence in coaching and has published several articles on the subject. Here are a few key points they emphasise:

  • Trust and Rapport: HBR highlights that coaches who embody a strong presence establish trust and rapport with their clients more effectively. When coaches are fully present, clients feel seen, heard, and supported, leading to a deeper level of engagement and willingness to open up.
  • Active Listening: The HBR articles stress the importance of active listening as a crucial aspect of presence in coaching. When coaches actively listen, they not only understand the words but also pick up on the nuances, emotions, and underlying needs expressed by the client. This level of attentiveness helps coaches provide targeted support and guidance.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Presence involves being attuned to and managing one’s own emotions as well as understanding and empathising with the client’s emotions. HBR emphasises that coaches with high emotional intelligence can regulate their emotions, exhibit empathy, and create a safe space for clients to explore their feelings and experiences.

International Coach Federation (ICF):

The ICF is a leading global organisation that sets standards for professional coaching. They recognise the importance of presence in coaching and include it as one of their core coaching competencies. Here’s how the ICF defines presence and its significance:

  • Being Fully Present: According to the ICF, presence is the ability to be fully conscious and engaged in the coaching session with a focus on the client’s agenda. Coaches who are fully present can tap into their intuition, listen deeply, and adapt their approach to best serve the client’s needs.
  • Establishing Trust: The ICF emphasises that a coach’s presence creates an environment of trust, safety, and respect where clients feel comfortable sharing openly. When coaches are present, clients are more likely to explore new perspectives, take risks, and make meaningful changes.
  • Somatic Awareness: The ICF recognises that presence extends beyond the cognitive realm and includes somatic awareness. Coaches who are attuned to their own bodily sensations and those of their clients can pick up on non-verbal cues, emotions, and energetic shifts, enhancing their ability to facilitate impactful coaching conversations.
  • Creating Learning Opportunities: The ICF highlights that a coach’s presence helps create a learning environment where clients can deepen their self-awareness, discover new insights, and develop their own solutions. Coaches who are fully present provide the necessary support and challenge to facilitate client growth.
  • Demonstrating Curiosity: Being curious is one of the most important prerequisites for facilitating a meaningful conversation. The coach’s childlike curiosity encourages the client to delve deeper and explore dimensions of their personality and situation.

So, when a coach is truly present in a coaching conversation, the client feels safe and is assured of the coach’s complete attention and energy. This encourages the client to travel inward to explore emotions, thought processes, and behaviour patterns that determine his life at present. The client is able to set goals for himself or herself and develop an action plan that is tailored to suit their unique context and routine. A coach can add immense value to the coaching session by committing to being fully present for the client and his or her aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of maintaining presence during coaching sessions?

Maintaining presence is crucial in coaching as it allows coaches to fully engage with their clients. It creates a safe and supportive space for clients to explore their thoughts, emotions, and goals. By being present, coaches can listen deeply, ask meaningful questions, and provide valuable insights that promote client growth and transformation.

How can I cultivate and enhance my presence as a coach?

Cultivating presence requires self-awareness and mindfulness. Practice techniques like deep breathing, grounding exercises, and meditation to centre yourself before sessions. Focus on active listening, maintaining eye contact, and being fully attentive to your client without judgement or distractions. Continual self-reflection and professional development also contribute to enhancing presence.

How does maintaining presence impact the coaching relationship?

Maintaining presence establishes a strong coaching relationship built on trust, empathy, and authentic connection. It helps coaches create a safe and non-judgmental space, fostering client vulnerability and openness. Presence enables coaches to deeply understand and support their clients, leading to more impactful coaching outcomes.

What are common challenges in maintaining presence during coaching sessions?

Common challenges include personal distractions, preoccupation with outcomes, or getting caught up in one’s own thoughts. Recognizing and acknowledging these challenges is the first step. Cultivating mindfulness, setting clear intentions, and using grounding techniques can help coaches overcome these obstacles and maintain presence.

How can I navigate moments when I feel my presence slipping during coaching sessions?

If you feel your presence slipping, take a mindful pause to re-center yourself. Focus on your breath, reconnect with your intention, and consciously bring your attention back to the client. Practice self-compassion and let go of judgments or self-criticism. Remember that presence is a continuous practice, and gentle redirection is key.

Can maintaining presence benefit both the coach and the client?

Absolutely! Maintaining presence is a win-win for both coach and client. Coaches experience a deeper sense of fulfilment, satisfaction, and professional growth when fully present. Clients benefit from the undivided attention, support, and guidance provided by a present coach, leading to more effective and transformative coaching experiences.