When making transfers between exchanges and wallets that are time sensitive it would be great to be able to some how reduce times to have transfers confirmed. Is there any way that running a node (or any other method) would be able to be used to target transactions for faster confirmation?

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No. The Bitcoin protocol is written such that the target block generation time is 10 minutes. The actual block generation time varies depending on the difficulty and hash rate of the network, in addition to luck.

Also, there is no guarantee that your transaction will be included in the next mined block. If you set a high transaction fee, your transaction is more likely to appear in the next block. If you set a low transaction fee, your transaction is likely to sit around in the mempool for hours or even days.

Once your transaction has been included in a valid block, then the confirmations start adding up every time a new block is found. There's nothing you can personally do to speed that up, unless you buy like a billion dollars worth of mining equipment and put it all online at the same time...and even then the effect will probably be negligible.

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