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7-month tenured BA

BIG3 communication consulting MBB top tips
New answer on Apr 23, 2024
5 Answers
134 Views
Anonymous A asked on Apr 17, 2024

Hello Team,

I'm currently working for one of the big MBBs. I've been struggling to sharpen my top-down communication especially during problem-solving sessions with partners. Does this skill get improved or will I always face the same issue?

Besides that, I've gotten a very high rating and don't want it to get in the way. Please give me advice to work on it and improve it.

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Iman
Expert
replied on Apr 19, 2024
Systemiq | Ex-BCG | 10 years experience with 8+ specialising in sustainability | Free Intro | Ex-PrepLounge candidate

You will get better with clear feedback from others and through practice.

A couple of questions for you to reflect on:

a) Are you struggling with the verbal part of top-down communication in a PS or also with written communication (e.g., slide-writing, emails etc)? 

b) With verbal communication: is it only in the presence of Partners or in other situations too? 

For verbal communication: Practice with your Manager, peer or external coach before the PS with the Partner. You'll only need to do this a few times before you get more comfortable doing it on the spot in a PS with the Partner. Make sure you get feedback from the person you practice with.

For written communication: There are loads of resources here and on YouTube about the Pyramid Principle and other frameworks you can apply in top-down communication. Your firm may have dedicated training on this as well. I would also sift through knowledge documents within your firm as those are likely to have gone through a quality control process already. 

Confidence in the presence of Partners and external/senior stakeholders: Honestly, this will come with experience. The more exposure you have to these situations (and probably the subject matter you're discussing), the more comfortable and confident you will feel. When you're a newbie, it can be overwhelming when you realise how much you don't know - the sooner you get comfortable with knowing (and owning) what you don't know, the more confident you will feel in a brainstorm/PS. I empathise - you can feel very exposed in a PS session! 

One last tip: What more juniors should realise that in a PS session, it's less about having all the fully baked information/answers/beautiful slides and more about the quality of the questions and the critical thinking/brainstorming that you can bring to the discussion. 

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 17, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

This is absolutely going to get better.

It's a skill that will still be improving even when you're Senior Partner. 

You can make the learning process faster by asking for targeted feedback - either from your EM (or Partner) or from an external advisor / coach. 

Without knowing how your ‘lack of top down communication’ manifests itself, it's virtually impossible to give you practical advice on how to work on it. 

I would mention two things that come to mind.

One - speak slower. That enables your mind to think clearly and focus only on what is important. 

Two - answer first. Answer directly to whatever you were asked, then provide the details. So if it's a yes or no question, then give a yes or no answer and then the rest. 

Third - clarity of communication is highly correlated to your sense of self-worth. Lots of people tend to ‘overspeak’ because they are hiding insecurities. That's one of the reasons why I'm mentioning that figuring this out requires that you get targeted feedback because it's not as easy as implementing some chatgpt-style tips. 

Best,
Cristian

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 17, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

this is something that is a typical problem for people who are new to consulting and it improves over time. Of course you need to incorporate the feedback you receive on it but you'll get the hang of it.

Some common things to do in this respect are:

  • Economy of words - get to the point in a concise way with as little words as possible
  • Results first - communicate the results/recommendations/ideas before you give a lenghty talk about their derivations 
  • Present supporting arguments for your recommendations/ideas - especially when prompted by follow-up questions

Take a look at the project documentations of the assignments you've been on thus far. Each of them should have an “Executive Summary” section. You'll find plenty of communication style examples there. Same thing if you look at slide decks that were used for steering committee presentations.

Hope that helps

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Alberto
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 23, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Top down communication can be improved. Even at partner level people still receive that feedback.

To improve your top down communication:

  • Ask for feedback to your manager
  • Get coached by peers
  • Do internal communication trainings
  • Get an external coach to help you with that

Happy to keep talking about this in private, just send me a message.

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Apr 23, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

It really gets better with time.

I suggest reading Pyramid Principle, from Barbara Minto.

Other than that is to practice always starting with the answer / recommendation, and only afterwards explaining why you believe that is the answer. Never speak in terms of process (which tends to be bottom up), but always in terms of the recommendation + supporting data.

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Iman gave the best answer

Iman

Systemiq | Ex-BCG | 10 years experience with 8+ specialising in sustainability | Free Intro | Ex-PrepLounge candidate
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