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Réka

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How to build up confidence and look smart and sharp in a consultant role?

Please help to provide me with some career advice:

In my previous summer intern experience, I did quite well in the projects compared to other interns. However, my boss told me that they were all "surprised" to see that my final presentation result was far better than other interns. Also, some managers' feedback was that I sometimes seem "careless" or "dazed".

After self-reflection, I realized that I'm the kind of person who is very easy going and work with colleagues in a relaxed way. Some colleagues also mentioned I am "too naive" and should be more "seasoned". Also, I feel that I am sometimes too humble and don't carry enough confidence. For example, for things I don't know well enough, I will be 100% transparent, while some interns will pretend that they are a master in this topic even though they aren't. However, during the project presentation stage, I would be sharp, confident, and communicative after enough practice and preparation to boost my confidence".

Could you please share some advice on this issue? I'm thinking of how to boost my confidence and find some methods to look "sharp and smart" even during daily routines. Also, instead of being "naive and humble", I would like to project a professional image of being "seasoned, sharp, and professional. Thanks a lot for your insights.

Please help to provide me with some career advice:

In my previous summer intern experience, I did quite well in the projects compared to other interns. However, my boss told me that they were all "surprised" to see that my final presentation result was far better than other interns. Also, some managers' feedback was that I sometimes seem "careless" or "dazed".

After self-reflection, I realized that I'm the kind of person who is very easy going and work with colleagues in a relaxed way. Some colleagues also mentioned I am "too naive" and should be more "seasoned". Also, I feel that I am sometimes too humble and don't carry enough confidence. For example, for things I don't know well enough, I will be 100% transparent, while some interns will pretend that they are a master in this topic even though they aren't. However, during the project presentation stage, I would be sharp, confident, and communicative after enough practice and preparation to boost my confidence".

Could you please share some advice on this issue? I'm thinking of how to boost my confidence and find some methods to look "sharp and smart" even during daily routines. Also, instead of being "naive and humble", I would like to project a professional image of being "seasoned, sharp, and professional. Thanks a lot for your insights.

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Book a coaching with Réka

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Hi A,

First of all, I would advise you to take your colleagues' advice with a pinch of salt. It honestly sounds like you got some random feedback (people always feel like they have to say some "grow areas" as well). E.g., being "naive" probably just means that you are inexperienced, I don't think it's a very strong and actionable feedback to say. It's great that you are doing self-reflection. Filter out the noise and focus on those people's opinions that you respect the most.

Secondly, building confidence is always a tough thing in consulting where everyone is super smart around you. My 2 pieces of advice are

- Focus on your strengths. What makes you unique? I have colleagues who have a ton or areas of improvement, but really excel in 1-2 things and do a great job in "branding" themselves from those angles. People know them as "the analytics guy" or the "get things done lady" which gives them a unique edge when it comes to e.g., getting staffed on projects.

- The best advice I ever got was: don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. Now this obviously does not mean that you don't align with your supervisors before making decisions. But it reflects the leadership and ownership mindset that you have to possess. Act as if you are on your own and trust that the leadership will have your back. This mindset shift won't happen from one day to another.

Best,

Réka

Hi A,

First of all, I would advise you to take your colleagues' advice with a pinch of salt. It honestly sounds like you got some random feedback (people always feel like they have to say some "grow areas" as well). E.g., being "naive" probably just means that you are inexperienced, I don't think it's a very strong and actionable feedback to say. It's great that you are doing self-reflection. Filter out the noise and focus on those people's opinions that you respect the most.

Secondly, building confidence is always a tough thing in consulting where everyone is super smart around you. My 2 pieces of advice are

- Focus on your strengths. What makes you unique? I have colleagues who have a ton or areas of improvement, but really excel in 1-2 things and do a great job in "branding" themselves from those angles. People know them as "the analytics guy" or the "get things done lady" which gives them a unique edge when it comes to e.g., getting staffed on projects.

- The best advice I ever got was: don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. Now this obviously does not mean that you don't align with your supervisors before making decisions. But it reflects the leadership and ownership mindset that you have to possess. Act as if you are on your own and trust that the leadership will have your back. This mindset shift won't happen from one day to another.

Best,

Réka

Book a coaching with Khaled

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Hi there,

It seems that you already know what small tweaks are needed to portray the image you want. It is a great starting point to have thought about the feedback you received.

It seems like you just need to make sure not to give the dazed/naive/careless vibe by simply behaving as when you do when making a presentation. Those would be simple nuances like speed and sharpness and volume of your speech, your posture, your eye contact.

In my opinion, no need to act like an expert on the topic - be open about what you understand and don't understand - the last thing the team needs is a know-it-all that can't deliver as what he/she promises.

No need to rush into "improving yourself", it takes time to have those nuances tweaked, just be more aware of them and slowly experiment with small changes and adjust based on the internal/external reactions you receive.

Best of luck in the process.

Khaled

Hi there,

It seems that you already know what small tweaks are needed to portray the image you want. It is a great starting point to have thought about the feedback you received.

It seems like you just need to make sure not to give the dazed/naive/careless vibe by simply behaving as when you do when making a presentation. Those would be simple nuances like speed and sharpness and volume of your speech, your posture, your eye contact.

In my opinion, no need to act like an expert on the topic - be open about what you understand and don't understand - the last thing the team needs is a know-it-all that can't deliver as what he/she promises.

No need to rush into "improving yourself", it takes time to have those nuances tweaked, just be more aware of them and slowly experiment with small changes and adjust based on the internal/external reactions you receive.

Best of luck in the process.

Khaled

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Hello!

Feel free to PM me, since I had a very very similar experience also.

In general, my learning is that in consulting, communication is at least as important as content, particularly when hadling clients.

In Spanish we say "Ceasar´s wife not only needs to be Ceasar´s wife, she also needs to be act like her". For years I tought it´s an exageration, but it´s not.

Hence, if you have a natural tendency towards a more relaxed communication, it can come across as careless, particularly being very young.

DOn´t worry, this gets better with time and by learning from people who are good at it. It´s quite easy to learn from this people and their behaviour.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Feel free to PM me, since I had a very very similar experience also.

In general, my learning is that in consulting, communication is at least as important as content, particularly when hadling clients.

In Spanish we say "Ceasar´s wife not only needs to be Ceasar´s wife, she also needs to be act like her". For years I tought it´s an exageration, but it´s not.

Hence, if you have a natural tendency towards a more relaxed communication, it can come across as careless, particularly being very young.

DOn´t worry, this gets better with time and by learning from people who are good at it. It´s quite easy to learn from this people and their behaviour.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Book a coaching with Mahvin

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Hi there,

Short answer: Be yourself; whilst looking sharp and sounding confident may impress people initially, it will be for nothing if the person do not have the substance to back it up. I know a few superstars personally who come across as "normal" or unassuming.

Longer answer: If you need to overcompensate for at least the first impression, what you could do is to the following:

1. Dress smart - no oversized, poor-fitting clothes; and dress appropriately

2. Speak deliberately - noticed how confident people usually speak in a composed, assured way? Try doing that if you are a fast talker. Body language tip - be present and focused, have eye contact, smile and be a good listener

Hope this helps!

Hi there,

Short answer: Be yourself; whilst looking sharp and sounding confident may impress people initially, it will be for nothing if the person do not have the substance to back it up. I know a few superstars personally who come across as "normal" or unassuming.

Longer answer: If you need to overcompensate for at least the first impression, what you could do is to the following:

1. Dress smart - no oversized, poor-fitting clothes; and dress appropriately

2. Speak deliberately - noticed how confident people usually speak in a composed, assured way? Try doing that if you are a fast talker. Body language tip - be present and focused, have eye contact, smile and be a good listener

Hope this helps!

(edited)

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Hi there,

You can find some excellent suggestions in this previous Q&A: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-look-more-confident-4232

Additionally:

  • Stand in front of the bathroom mirrow and power pose for 3 minutes (stand tall, head straight, hands on hips, elbows out) and just get in the mood (this sounds cheesy but it's been proven to positively prime your brain) - just don't let anyone catch you doing this ;)
  • Show Interest - It's hard to use "physical" tips for looking confident without appearing cocky, arrogant, or fake. It's a fine line! Instead, showing genuine interest in the topic and engaging in this way in-of-itself shows confidence!

Hi there,

You can find some excellent suggestions in this previous Q&A: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-look-more-confident-4232

Additionally:

  • Stand in front of the bathroom mirrow and power pose for 3 minutes (stand tall, head straight, hands on hips, elbows out) and just get in the mood (this sounds cheesy but it's been proven to positively prime your brain) - just don't let anyone catch you doing this ;)
  • Show Interest - It's hard to use "physical" tips for looking confident without appearing cocky, arrogant, or fake. It's a fine line! Instead, showing genuine interest in the topic and engaging in this way in-of-itself shows confidence!
Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi there,

it seems you would like to:

  • project a better impression on manager and colleagues
  • be more strategic in how you assess your own skills
  • increase your general confidence

I think an internship in a sales role if applicable to your case would help you a lot to improve in those areas – it was for sure beneficial to me in the past.

If you haven’t read it, “How to win friends and influence people” would also help, but you necessarily need to apply the theory of the book and not just read it.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi there,

it seems you would like to:

  • project a better impression on manager and colleagues
  • be more strategic in how you assess your own skills
  • increase your general confidence

I think an internship in a sales role if applicable to your case would help you a lot to improve in those areas – it was for sure beneficial to me in the past.

If you haven’t read it, “How to win friends and influence people” would also help, but you necessarily need to apply the theory of the book and not just read it.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Hello,

Overall, assertiveness is crucial for a consultant. I think however that it is not obvious to give advice without having seen you practicing. You definetely need to train and above all have people who give you regular feedback (eg your manager). I would be happy to talk to you about it one day if you are interested.

David

Hello,

Overall, assertiveness is crucial for a consultant. I think however that it is not obvious to give advice without having seen you practicing. You definetely need to train and above all have people who give you regular feedback (eg your manager). I would be happy to talk to you about it one day if you are interested.

David

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Hi Anonymous,

Good to see that you are clearly aware of yourself and some current limitations!

I'll take a slightly more controversial perspective and say that you potentially start thinking from the wrong direction. Based on experience I'd say it's really really difficult to make an outward-side impression without tackling the root cause inside. Fake it until you make it doesn't really work - maybe I won't recognize it the first time, but I will recognize it and at that moment you will have lost your credibility (please bear in mind that consulting is a trust and relationship business).

So for me the most important aspect would actually be to start thinking like a pro in a "sharp and smart" way. Good news: it can be learned. Bad news: no short-cut existing. Reading good business news, developing business acumen, familiarizing yourself with structured thinking and communication (thinking of "The Pyramid Principle" / Barbara Minto book) could support. Obviously those are generic suggestions and we would need to look specificically for you in a targeted session on that.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

Good to see that you are clearly aware of yourself and some current limitations!

I'll take a slightly more controversial perspective and say that you potentially start thinking from the wrong direction. Based on experience I'd say it's really really difficult to make an outward-side impression without tackling the root cause inside. Fake it until you make it doesn't really work - maybe I won't recognize it the first time, but I will recognize it and at that moment you will have lost your credibility (please bear in mind that consulting is a trust and relationship business).

So for me the most important aspect would actually be to start thinking like a pro in a "sharp and smart" way. Good news: it can be learned. Bad news: no short-cut existing. Reading good business news, developing business acumen, familiarizing yourself with structured thinking and communication (thinking of "The Pyramid Principle" / Barbara Minto book) could support. Obviously those are generic suggestions and we would need to look specificically for you in a targeted session on that.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Dear A,

All you need to learn is how to do a pocker face :D

But, seriously, better be yourself and not to follow other ways. I would recommend you to concentrate more on your resources and strength. But working in a constructive way on your weak side, not simply following what every single people say.


Good luck,
André

Dear A,

All you need to learn is how to do a pocker face :D

But, seriously, better be yourself and not to follow other ways. I would recommend you to concentrate more on your resources and strength. But working in a constructive way on your weak side, not simply following what every single people say.


Good luck,
André