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If you’re in the business of giving expert advice to other experts, you’re likely to have a strong and very specific skill set.

Regardless of their industry or area of expertise, consultants share a diverse range of skills – including communication, problem-solving, project management and so much more.

The demands of the job mean you have to be able to think on your feet, communicate your ideas clearly and confidently, and manage a project with multiple moving parts.

Whether you’re already a consultant looking to improve your existing skills or you’re starting a new consulting business from scratch, here are the top consulting skills to work on to wow your clients – plus top tips to improve your skills on the job.

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Why improve your consulting skills?

Whether you’re a coach, creator educator or consultant, improving your consulting skills can help you to provide a better experience to your clients by offering them a clear, cohesive and customized plan to solve whatever challenges they’re facing.

Working on your consulting skills can help you:

  • Improve your expertise
  • Make an impact when talking to clients
  • Increase your earning potential
  • Build trust and customer loyalty
  • Increase your problem-solving abilities

Here are the top 10 consulting skills you need to level up your consulting game – and win more business.

Top 10 consulting skills to work on

  1. Focus on excellent oral and written communication

As a consultant, it’s your job to help your clients solve problems and improve specific aspects of their business. To be the best in the game, you need to be able to communicate effectively with your clients to understand their key problems, challenges and needs, as well as conveying your solutions clearly.

If you want to get better at consulting, work on improving both your written and oral communication to build stronger relationships with your clients and colleagues. 

This includes oral communication skills like: 

  • Asking meaningful questions
  • Communicating ideas confidently
  • Presenting your analysis clearly

And written communication skills like:

  • Drafting professional emails
  • Writing high-impact reports
  • Producing engaging content for presentations

By nailing these key communication skills, you can make sure that any ideas and solutions are presented clearly and efficiently – with zero confusion on either end.

  1. Prioritize positivity

Part of being a good consultant is taking a positive approach to problems. Work on being more positive in your communication with clients and colleagues to present yourself as a proactive, solution-oriented individual and win their trust in the process.

If you have a habit of letting your words run faster than your mind, try to take a pause so you can structure your thoughts more carefully. If you’re unclear on how to answer a question or problem, take time to consider your answer and then circle back to your client later. They’d prefer that you answer accurately and with a proactive approach than respond with a knee-jerk reaction that might be inaccurate or misleading. Positivity is key!

  1. Be concise

The key to effective communication in consulting is being concise. That includes cutting out any filler words, complicated phrasing and jargon. Your aim is to communicate your ideas as simply and clearly as possible, while making sure that your clients can absorb what you’re telling them.

The best consultants are able to summarize key problems and ideas simply and concisely – less is more!

  1. Practice active listening

If you want to build closer relationships with your clients, work on your active listening skills. Active listening goes beyond just hearing your clients and instead seeks to understand the meaning behind their words, including asking open-ended questions and summarizing what they’ve said to confirm your understanding.

Active listening gives you the chance to understand your client’s unique situation, including the challenges they’re facing and what they’re looking to get out of their relationship with you. Remember the 80/20 rule. That’s 80% of your time listening and just 20% of the time talking. This can help you be a better consultant who provides tailored advice and solutions to address your client’s needs.

  1. Become a planning pro

Consultants are master planners. Regardless of your industry or area of expertise, your job will inevitably involve some project management and planning skills, even if you’re working as a coach or Creator Educator.

Whether you’re outlining a presentation, preparing for a call or coordinating a project, planning is a critical skill for consultants. Consultants are capable of coming up with an end goal and breaking the process to get there into bite-sized chunks that will take their client step-by-step towards achieving that goal.

Every project has multiple moving parts so project management software can help you keep track of it all. Project management tools let you assign tasks to team members, keep on top of deadlines, and monitor the process of every deliverable. Your planning skills will ultimately determine whether or not your project is a success – it’s all up to you!

  1. Take control of time management

To deliver any project, you need to have a good grasp of time management. The success of your business depends on your ability to structure your time and hit deadlines.

Good project management in consulting includes setting up a clear timeline and hitting the deadlines you’ve promised clients. If you tell your clients you’re going to do something in a certain timeline, you need to follow through if you want to keep their business.

If you struggle with time management, try using time-tracking software to keep tabs on how long you’re spending on different tasks. Time tracking gives you an overview of exactly what you’re doing – including potential time drains and areas where you need to improve efficiency.

If you’re working with a team, get team members to track their time too. This helps you identify areas that need improvement – and monitor and avoid potential burnout too.

  1. Use project management best practices

The best consultants have a clear project management strategy. To get better at project management in consulting, get studying! There are a wide range of tried and tested methodologies that can help you improve your project management skills and become a better consultant in the process. 

Good project management is a learnable skill – look out for resources that break down project management best practices into an easy-to-follow process that you can implement immediately. 

  1. Get comfortable with delegating

No business owner is an island. If you want to make your consulting business a success, you need to master the all-important skill of delegating. The best consultants are able to identify tasks that they can trust to other people, freeing up more of their time to consider the big picture and focus on delivering the project.

When you delegate effectively, you’re able to be more efficient – and utilize the diverse skills of your team members too. 

  1. Find innovative solutions

Problem-solving is a core skill that every consultant needs to master. If you’re going to offer real solutions to your clients, you need to be able to solve their specific problems and come up with an actionable plan to help them. 

This starts with having an accurate picture of the problem, including: 

  • Which solutions have been attempted before?
  • What were the results?
  • Which related parts of the client’s business also need addressing?
  • How will the solution be applied?

Often the problem that needs solving is larger or more complex than the problem first presented by the client – it’s your job to explore all the factors at work to find an effective, innovative solution.

  1. Be adaptable

When you’re working as a consultant, you need to be constantly adaptable to respond to changing problems, challenges and timelines throughout the project. Whenever you’re working with people, you have to be flexible. Be prepared for any scenario that might come your way – be it interpersonal issues, technical problems, or long delays.

If you can take roadblocks and pivots in your stride, you can help to deliver the best possible results for your clients – and secure more work from them in the future.

Related: How to turn your consulting service into a product

How to improve your consulting skills

Try these 5 ideas to improve your consulting skills – and get ahead of the competition.

  1. Learn from the experts

If you want to get better at any skill, seek out people at the top of their field and learn from them. When it comes to consulting skills, that means consultants who you admire, respect and are inspired by. For example, look out for thought leaders in consulting who are creating content you love, like books, blogs, videos and more. 

The more people you can learn from, the better. Try to find a diverse range of perspectives on consulting to broaden your skills and work on your weaknesses. While you’re at it, why not reach out to other consultants just like you for a chat? Social learning is a really effective way to improve your skills – and meet new like-minded people too!

  1. Take a consulting skills workshop

Online courses and workshops are a great way to improve your existing consulting skills and learn new ones. Thanks to the huge range of online courses on offer, you can find courses for targeting specific skills, industries and job roles.

Look out for online courses that offer interactive elements so you can ask questions, get feedback and interact with your fellow learners too. That’s the best way to get better at consulting, especially when it comes to key competencies like problem-solving, communication and project management.

  1. Find a mentor

For an even more personalized approach to working on your consulting skills, try to find a mentor who can show you the ropes and help with your personal career development. This might be someone in your organization or someone working in the same industry.

The right mentor can help you build confidence by giving you advice, encouragement and supporting your professional growth. Mentors can also offer you much needed feedback to help you improve your consulting skills over time. 

Your mentor can even help you build your professional network by making introductions, referring clients, and recommending industry events, as well as offering guidance on key skills like pitching for work and promotions.

  1. Stay curious

The most successful consultants are the ones who are constantly learning. If you want to improve your consulting skills, try to shift your mindset and become a lifelong student.

If you want to stay at the top of your game, stay curious. That includes learning from the people around you, trying out different industries, keeping informed about developments in your field, and getting to grips with new technology that comes your way. Who knows – you could end up coaching people just like you in the future!

  1. Always ask for feedback

If you want to improve your consulting skills, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. This could be from people in your organization, people in your network, and/or from clients. Find out how you can develop by asking specific, relevant questions that will give you information on your strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

The secret to receiving feedback is being open – listening and absorbing what people tell you, even if you don’t like the answers! Get comfortable with critique to help you become the best possible consultant you can be.

Ready to improve your consulting skills?

Consultants need to provide thoughtful, expert advice to clients – and present their ideas clearly and convincingly. It’s not enough to come up with a plan, you also need to demonstrate to your clients why they should follow your advice.

Get inspired by our case studies from successful coaches, course creators and consultants on how they built their businesses and leveled up their skill sets.