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Talk like a consultant

Shatakshi Sharma, St Stephens College, University of Delhi Graduate, ISB MBA, strategist to government of India, former BCG management consultant, advisor to tony blair institute, ivy league exchange student, LinkedIn Top Voice and co-founder of Global Governance Initiative

Career insights by GGI is a new series by GGI sharing hacks and tips around management consulting, MBA, product management and public policy.

In this GGI career insight, we will be sharing insights into: the art and science of good communication.


Have you ever wondered what is the talking style of a consultant? Or have you ever questioned what is pyramid mode of communication is or what is the top-down way of consulting is?

This career insight is divided into the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ aspects.

1. Why is top-down communication important?

As a management consultant, you would be working with CEOs and CXOs who are fairly busy people. Rookie consultants tend to make the mistake of spotlighting their efforts and the story behind the analyses.

The harsh reality is that these CXOs primarily care about the output, not the efforts.

As an MBB consultant, you are paid high salaries for good-quality of work. And you are expected to communicate this good quality work efficiently and succinctly.

You can understand the importance of communication through the famous Elevator Pitch concept devised by McKinsey. In this, you are essentially supposed to pitch an idea or give an update to a CEO within the 30-second elevator ride.

To efficiently utilise the minimal amount of time, you should be talking about the output you have generated, rather than the efforts behind it. You should be able to give to-the-point answers.

Thus, top-down communication skills are extremely important for a management consultant to get hired and promoted.

The succinctness does not come naturally to us, since human beings by nature are not good listeners. You must learn to control your thoughts and actually answer the question.

2. What is top-down communication?

Now that you understand the importance of good communication skills, you must be wondering what it actually entails.

Let us take the reference of a pyramid.

At the top are the key points which are required actually to answer the question. Following that are the key arguments and the supporting details. This is an efficient method of giving someone an update.

At my own education venture, Global Governance Initiative, I appreciate those who are able to give me quick updates. As a co-founder, this helps me save time and do more value-added work.

3. How to implement the important form?

Now, having learnt about the pyramid form of communication, how do you actually implement it in your daily life?

The thing about soft skills is that most people don’t understand them. Soft skills, whether communication skills or business acumen, are largely acquired through active practising, rather than passive listening.

Communication is like a muscle. Watching a video on how to speak in English will not actually teach you English.

Soft skills have the same essence. If you want more information on skills every management consultant should have, then check out my career insight here.

To learn more about consulting, find my end-to-end guide here.

If you need more help getting into management consulting and product management, feel free to check out my education venture- Global Governance Initiative. We invite industry leaders to host Masterclasses and teach our students the hard and soft skills required to excel in their careers.


Author: Shatakshi Sharma, Co-CEO Global Governance Initiative, Ex-BCG Management Consultant, Former Policy Advisor, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

If you are interested in learning about GGI's MBA Scholar program, you can learn here.

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