4 Consulting communication best practices I've been taught at work
I work in a client-facing role and find myself spending a lot of time convincing people and explaining things to them. While my workplace doesn't have as extensive a training regime as more established consultancies like the Big 3 do (we're a start-up, after all), we rely on many of the same strategies to communicate effectively. Here are a few that are top of mind for me.
1. The Rule of 3
Basically: provide 3 supporting arguments/bits of evidence for each claim you make. This is a particularly effective rhetorical device, as we've been conditioned to accept things in groups of 3 (e.g. Goldilocks and the 3 bears) and there's evidence that working memory is limited to 3-5 points at most. Plus, it can help you come across as decisive and confident.
2. The Pyramid Principle
In some ways, this is tied to the Rule of 3. The idea is: when convincing someone of a position to take, or when answering a question, start with a thesis statement and then branch off into 3 supporting arguments. Each of those should have 3 supporting details, and so on. Each "level" of the pyramid should be a statement that summarizes what's beneath it.
3. Titles are takeaways
This applies to presentations. Often, data will show many things at once. Your audience shouldn't have to sift through the content of your slides to understand what you're saying and follow your argument. Instead, each slide should have a title that summarizes the main concept or conclusion you want your audience to walk away with.
4. Always tell a story
This point can be interpreted a few different ways, but I take it to mean that it's important to orient audiences within a wider narrative and give context to all of your comments. So-- provide people with a reference point of where they are show them where they're going. A timeline can help with this.