There are many occasions during a consulting engagement when we advise our clients. Advice may be provided regarding the scoping of a problem and the definition of priorities; it may relate to the formulation of strategy, the design of a solution or an implementation approach; advice is shared on a daily basis as we provide answers to questions; it also has an important role to play internally within a consulting firm as we work in teams, supporting and sometimes challenging our colleagues.

The quality of the advice that we provide is driven by a number of factors. Our expertise, experience and ability to collect and analyse information play an important role, but we must also be skilled in combining these ingredients in the formulation of recommendations, supported by good arguments. These arguments must be defensible as clients often test our recommendations by challenging them. An argument that can be well defended is generally considered to represent good advice.

This chapter will explore techniques for building, presenting and defending arguments, supported by examples from real consulting engagements. The two most common systems of argumentation, deductive and inductive reasoning, will be introduced. We will also consider how arguments can be embedded in written documents and presentations.


The deductive reasoning method builds an argument using an analytical approach. Working from an initial basis, it eliminates ...

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