How to be concise and adopt "pyramid principal" consistently?

Edited on Jan 27, 2022
2 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Jan 26, 2022

I would like to seek some advice on how to be concise and adopting pyramid principal “consistently” through the case. 

A bit background: I always adopt the pyramid principal in the conclusion, however I find that my communication along the case is not concise and sharp enough, and I'm not always consistently communicating in a “top down” style. 

In my interview today, the interview kept on interrupting me when I explained through the idea by asking me “what else”? Also, when I explained through the logic, he also interrupted and asked me so what are the things you want to look at? I feel that I might be over-explaining a bit as sometimes I wanted to show the clear reasoning behind, but I have gone into too detail. 

Any suggestions on how to practice to be concise, instead of over explaining (giving too much example, linking to self-experience too much, illustrating too much, etc)? Appreciate it!

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Jan 27, 2022
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Remember the objective/question - If they ask a question, listen intently and lead with an answer. When working through the case, remember everything you do should be focused on the objective

Structure your thinking - When thinking + speaking, use structure to organize everything. By grouping things and talking in buckets you'll get your point across more concisely

Signpost - If needing to communicate multiple things, first state those x things! Then, afterwards, dive into each. So "I"m thinking about this in 3 ways. Way A, Way B, and Way C. In terms of Way A...."

Remember less is more - Think about longer sentences/phrases you use. Reflect on how to make them shorter. Much like you edit an essay, edit your speaking. Why use 5 words when a well-placed single word encompases that? Build your vocabulary (especially business vocabularly) to be able to use key words instead of wasting time "explaining" a concept

Practice with others - Tell others that you're working on this. Ask them to force you to be concise. So, tell them to interrupt you if you're rambling! Record yourself for answers and listen to yourself....look for ways you could have been quicker.

Take a few seconds - gather your thoughts. Perhaps right them down. Take a quick breather to better formulate and then articulate your thoughts

  1. Pause before speaking to gather your thoughts - the time may feel like forever for you, but it's not nearly as long as you think. Leverage filler sentences such as "that's and interesting point" to buy some time if needed.
  2. Frame your answer - Generally, MBBers say "There are 3 parts to this". Then, they highlight in 1 sentence each of the 2-4 points
  3. Iterate through each point - After framing how you're going to answer the question, then answer it by diving into each "part" in the order you summarized each.


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Content Creator
replied on Jan 26, 2022
McKinsey | 100+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Top rated for experienced hires & career transitioners

Practice, practice, practice! You'll get there!

Good communication is based on 3x things:

  • Being structured in the first place (MECE)
  • Communicating said structure top-down (pyramid)
  • Active listening (adapting your speech with ease)

Based on what you're saying you tend to follow one path in your issue tree from beginning to end and go into detail before you've systematically gone through your 1st level buckets and 2nd level drivers. This is a job half done i.e. you have a good MECE structure but you don't follow through because you haven't internalized top down communication yet.

At MBB, this is pursued religiously and takes plenty of practice for most people because we're naturally “bottoms up” oriented i.e. detail first. So don't feel bad for not getting it right!

Feel free to reach out if this is something you'd like to get some help with!


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