Speak Like a Management Consultant: Terminology Dictionary

Consultants talk in a simple, structured manner. They also use specific terminologies in pitches to clients.

Talking like a management consultant is a good way to impress your interviewer during the case interview.However, many candidates make that dreadful mistake of using cliche’d jargons they find on the Internet – if you do that, the interviewer will perceive you as naive, at best.

Keep your words simple and easy to understand

Being easy to understand will always come first. In business meetings, nobody cares about how good your vocabulary is. Time is money, and solutions come first. 

Also, not everybody you work with will have the same background, so what you say will be clear to some but baffling to others. And again, it comes back to TIME. Simple means less time wasted on questions, more time spent on answers.

So next time, don’t go out there and tell someone’s business procedure is a kafkaesque nightmare (which can leave them flabbergasted), just say it’s too complex, and save precious time asking ridiculous vocabulary questions.


Structure your talk

Everything you say must follow a flow of speech, each sentence needs to make sense and complements one another. One way you can structure your talk is to present what you say in a top-down manner. It’s how issue trees are drawn and how our articles are written. Follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Start with what you want to talk about, and be sure to make it very clear

  • Step 2: Go straight to the point in one sentence. In case interviews and actual projects, this is usually the root causes or recommendations

  • Step 3: Present the solutions/implementation in a structured fashion

  • Step 4: Brief about the next steps if there’s any

It’s all about the flow. A well-structured pitch would make your clients begging for more. They will gladly ignore your mistakes and relish what you’ve brought to the table.

So here’s an example. Let’s say a company asked you to find out why its profit is dropping, and you’ve got the answer and are ready to pitch it to the CEO. Here’s how it goes:

“Mr. CEO, it’s been a pleasure working with your company to tackle a profit problem. We’ve identified one root cause to be the outdated key product.

We’ve proposed 3 solutions to rectify this:

  • In the short term, we can buy the technology in critical high-volume areas. This won’t be sustainable, but it clears the urgent need and buys us more time

  • In the medium term, we develop our capability through joint-ventures with experienced firms. This is a good balance of time and cost

  • In the long term, when the company has gathered enough know-how through those joint-venture activities, we start to develop our capability in-house. This will be the most sustainable way

Here are the potential vendors and partners for the short term and medium term solutions. We would love to work with you in implementing the solutions. Thank you.”


Use actual, non-cliche consulting terminology

This is a little dictionary of what consultants would actually use in reports for clients.

Talking like a consultant is a good way to impress your interviewer in case interviews, but that does not simply mean using jargons you find on the Internet – if you do that, the interviewer will perceive you as naive, at best. It’s a bit of everything, from being simple, structured, with some consulting phrases for flavor. 

This list would be useful for:

  • First-year consultants looking to immediately improve “professionalism” and “consulting-like” writing on documents, emails, etc.

  • First-year consultants to understand and get involved in content discussions right on the first day

  • Future aspired consultants looking to implicitly showing their “consulting-like” background on resumes

This is just a sneak peak. If you want the full experience, check out our Rookie Consultant pack. You’ll find everything you need to kickstart your consulting career!

Exhibit: Common terms used by management consultants with examples






Let’s turn this ad hoc process into a structured and efficient one.



We have interviewed key stakeholders to get client alignment on the overall approach.


Standard/point of reference

Proportion of short-term debts is higher than benchmarks across sub-holding companies


Difficulty; draw-back

Half of the market is out of ABC’s reach due to its capital constraints.


End products of consulting projects

Our deliverables for this workstream include the master strategy and detailed implementation plan for the cement segment in the next 10 years.


Comprehensive; complete

The supervisors should manage and construct projects in an end-to-end manner.


Significant and powerful presence in something

The firm has expanded its footprint in the real estate and social infrastructure construction in synergy with the urban development business.


Departments like IT, HR, Operation, Strategy, etc.

IT systems are vulnerable while HR and Finance functions also show gaps.



There are key gaps across all critical control functions that ABC needs to address.



Our staff take pride in providing impeccable service.

In line

Roughly, similar

This steel plant performance is in line with market average but room for improvement exists


System; foundation

Develop an IT infrastructure that enable stability and growth



ABC could pursue performance improvement initiatives to further strengthen hydro power generation’s contribution.


Taking advantage of

Apple should leverage its strong brand name.


Ways to improve things

There are three levers to boost sales conversion rate at branches.



We used a robust review mechanism to control residual risk during a project.


Mini goals/achievements

The company passed the $6 billion market cap milestone this year


How efficient and effective things are run

The client needs to more actively manage capital allocation and productivity, associated debts with CAPEX and ensure debts are manageable.


Significantly and massively changing something

The board guided a three-year Human Capital Transformation Plan including restructuring divisions and alignment to business strategy.



Rigorously improve performance of ABC Steel to remain competitive.


Overall timeline-based plan

The manager presented the outline of the implementation roadmap with key milestones and resources requirements.

Root cause

Bottleneck that causes the problem

The root cause of the problem lies in the poor construction of the bridge.


The small piece after breaking down big problems, industry, workstream, etc.

The team should focus on projects in niche segments.



We first need to test this division's operational soundness.


Where to play; What to play; How to play

The client should develop a holistic urban development strategy to become the developer-of-choice for large-scale urban development projects.


In organized system and with specializations

XYZ’s business support functions are largely over-sized, overlapped and can be streamlined.



Although fragmented and subscale, our plants are geographically well positioned to serve industries in the North.


Things when combined create greater value than sum of each part

Synergy between different properties (e.g. residential, shopping mall complex, office) enhances total land value.


Revitalize/from bad to good

ABC cement is facing serious financial challenges and the chance for a turnaround is small.


Make the best use of something

Low sales volume has kept the capacity utilization rate low across ABC’s cement plants.

Merely speaking like a consultant is not enough to pass case interviews – you need to absolutely master the core fundamentals as well as the tips and techniques!

Here’s a “crash course” to help you do just that – from principles of consulting problem-solving, to case interview formats, along with dozens of tips and tricks, all in one free guide!

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