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How to contribute in project meetings and get ''noticed''?

meetings
Edited on Feb 11, 2023
8 Answers
1.6 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jan 09, 2023

Hi all, I've just joined a consulting firm as a consultant a while ago. I feel that for several project meetings that I have participated, I didn't speak up enough, and I have received feedback that I am stating more ‘’facts'' instead of ‘’views''. My aim is to establish my credibility, ‘’get noticed'' by partners, and showcase individual thinking.

From a practical view point, could you share some tips on how can juniors (consultant level) participate impactfully in meetings? Are there any best practice and things to take in mind? Thanks a lot!

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 09, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

What a great question!!

Before we go into the details, have a look at this ARTICLE I wrote for PrepLounge on how to be effective as a starting consultant

Now, to the meat of the problem. First of all, this is a super common issue. Most fresh consultants get this feedback. A few points of advice on how to be active and contribute to the meeting:

  1. Prepare for the meeting. Find out what the topic of the meeting is and try to review the core materials beforehand. This is especially critical if you don't have that much experience in that particular industry. Read not only the things that are relevant for your workstream but also those of your colleagues. The expectation is that you get more seniority you get to contribute to other workstreams as well.
  2. Pay attention. This was a big problem for me when I started. Perhaps because I didn't understand much, my mind would wonder off, and I never gained enough context for the discussion to be able to jump in and contribute. Try to keep yourself focused and follow the dialogue. If you really exercise your skills as a good listener, you'll build topic knowledge really fast and the insights will come to your naturally.
  3. Check whether you're holding yourself up to too high a standard. That also happens often. If you're quiet during the meeting and silently criticising your fellow junior consultants for talking too much or saying obvious things, then you're likely holding yourself to a very high standard. You probably feel like you need to come up with this great thing to be worth saying anything about it. If you suffer from this, try to make a point of contributing at least with one thing in every meeting.
  4. At least synthesise and suggest next steps. Even if you don't know anything about anything, you can still listen to the discussion and at least jump in and synthesise what was said and suggest some practical, operational next steps. You need to be a bit smooth about it, i.e., pick your moment, but this is something you can always do regardless of your knowledge of the topic. Partners often do this - just pay attention to them.
  5. Contribute with what only you can know. Because you have your own workstream and often times several clients that only you talk to, you will get to learn things about the client, the project, etc. that nobody else knows. These are nuggets of intelligence that can influence the fate of the project and they are a great addition to team discussions. It's also an amazing opportunity to be ‘noticed’.

Best,

Cristian

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Sidi
Expert
updated an answer on Feb 11, 2023
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi! 

Joining a consulting firm as a consultant can be a challenging and exciting experience, and it's not uncommon to feel a bit nervous or unsure of how to best participate in project meetings. Here are a few tips that might help you establish your credibility, get noticed by partners, and showcase your individual thinking:

Be prepared: Before each meeting, make sure you understand the agenda, the goals of the meeting, and the background information you need to contribute meaningfully. This will help you feel more confident and knowledgeable when it comes time to speak up.

Speak up early: One of the best ways to establish your credibility and get noticed is to speak up early in the meeting. Try to speak within the first 3 minutes of the meeting, this helps in showing that you are actively engaged and a contributor to the conversation.

Share your views and insights: Instead of just sharing facts, try to share your own views and insights on the topic at hand. This will help showcase your individual thinking and demonstrate your value as a team member.

Ask questions: Asking thoughtful, relevant questions is a great way to show that you are engaged and interested in the topic. Plus, it also helps you understand the topic better.

Practice active listening: Being a good listener is equally important as being a good speaker in meetings. This can help you understand the perspectives of others and identify areas where you can add value to the discussion.

Follow up: After the meeting, take note of any action items or follow-up items that were discussed and make sure to complete them in a timely manner. This shows that you are a responsible and accountable team member.

It's also important to keep in mind that building credibility and establishing oneself in a new firm takes time, effort and persistence. It's not always easy to make an impact in the first couple of meetings, but with consistent and active participation, you will be able to establish your credibility and get noticed by your partners.

_______________________

Dr. Sidi Koné 

(Former Senior Engagement Manager and Interviewer at McKinsey | Former Senior Consultant and Interviewer at BCG)

(edited)

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Ian
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replied on Jan 10, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

First, congrats on the offer! Here are some tips:

Come prepared: Make sure you have done your homework and are fully briefed on the agenda and any relevant background information. This will help you to understand the context of the meeting and to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.

Don't be afraid to challenge assumptions: As a consultant, it is important to ask questions and challenge assumptions in order to gain a deeper understanding of the problem and to identify potential areas for improvement.

Listen actively: As important as speaking up is to actively listen to what others are saying as well. Not only it will make sure that you don't miss anything important but also to avoid repeating what's been said before.

Articulate Your point clearly and concisely: Practice summarizing your thoughts and ideas in a clear and concise manner

Follow up after the meeting: Follow up on any action items or decisions that were made during the meeting, and make sure to follow up with any stakeholders as needed.

Remember that the more you participate in meetings and share your ideas, the more you will become comfortable and confident in your abilities. It's all a self-reinforcing cycle!

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Florian
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replied on Jan 09, 2023
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

This is actually very typical feedback for junior consultants.

There are a couple of ways how to go about it:

1. If you don't know what to say

  • Acknowledge their contribution.
  • Synthesize all points that have been made so far.
  • Expand some of the points that have already been made.
  • Think about the so-what instead of just facts and data ("Yes, we have seen more volatility in customer orders (data), but what is the implication of this (so-what)?).
  • Ask questions (that often helps the team to step back and make certain points clearer).

2. How to interrupt someone else politely

  • Wait for a pause in their speech and just start talking (for the how, see above).
  • Make a gesture towards the speaker that you want to add something. Usually, they will call your name and give you the room quickly.

Cheers,

Florian

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Hagen
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 09, 2023
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

I think this is an interesting question that may be relevant for many people. I would be happy to share my thoughts on it:

  • As a junior consultant, it is important to find ways to contribute meaningfully to project meetings and establish your credibility with team members and partners. Here are a few tips that may help you participate more impactfully in meetings:
    • Prepare thoroughly: Prioritize preparation and research before meetings so that you can contribute informed and thoughtful insights.
    • Take notes and ask questions: Pay close attention to the discussion and take notes on key points and questions that come up. Don't be afraid to ask questions to clarify misunderstandings or to seek further information.
    • Offer solutions: Instead of simply stating facts, try to go a step further and offer potential solutions or recommendations. This will demonstrate your problem-solving skills and initiative.
    • Practice active listening: Show that you are engaged in the conversation by making eye contact, nodding, and summarizing key points. This will help you better understand the discussion and allow you to contribute more effectively.
    • Speak up: Don't be afraid to voice your thoughts and opinions, even if you are a junior member of the team. Remember that everyone has something valuable to contribute and that your perspective can add value to the discussion.
    • Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from your colleagues and supervisors on how you can improve your participation in meetings. This can help you understand what you are doing well and where you can improve.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to address your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Jan 16, 2023
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

What they are telling you is that you should bring solutions and recommendations (and then support them with facts). Or to pinpoint limitations in other's suggestions/recommendations (and ideally how to overcome them)

This is actually one of the things that is tested in case interviews, and therefore is expected from day one - to be able to form judgement from data.

So yes, it's uncomfortable, but an analyst must provide their opinion in meetings. Sometimes analysts withhold relevant information and insights because they either don't feel comfortable speaking up, or they don't want to go againts their manager/partner opinion - only for them to later find out that they were wrong. No one wants those analysts in their team, because they may be smart, but they're not really helping to reach out a better conclusion.

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Maikol
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 09, 2023
BCG Project Leader | Former Bain, AlixPartner, and PE | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780

There are several things you can do in order to “get noticed” by Partners/MDs, but you already mentioned the most important one.

During Case Team Meetings, being a consultant, you have to show that you can extract the key messages from your module(s). It is fundamental to be able to craft a simple story of the advancement of your module and explain the next steps. 

The above is the minimum. The next step is regarding your communication, which should be “senior”: i.e., top-down, focused on insights and solutions, showing commercial acumen. As a general tip: avoid too many details, and go for short sentences straight to the point. 

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 09, 2023
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

in addition to what was already suggested:

  • ask questions (not the ones where the answer is obvious of course) - either to clarify or to draw attention to another relevant area not yet addressed 
  • recap the essence of what was discussed and derive/proposed next steps for the team
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Cristian gave the best answer

Cristian

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