What is a Group Discussion?
It is a systematic and purposeful interactive oral process. Here the exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings take place through oral communication. The exchange of ideas takes place in a systematic and structured
way. The participants express their views on the given topic/issue/problem.
How does Group Discussion differ from a Debate?
Debate is competitive in nature while group discussion is a co-operative group process. In a debate, a speaker can speak either ‘for’ the topic or ‘against’ the topic only whereas in a GD, the speaker can express both positive as well as negative points. The final decision or result in a debate depends on voting while in a GD, the group reaches to final conclusion.
Why is a group discussion an important activity at college level?
As a student, it helps you to train yourself to discuss and argue about the topic given. It helps you to express your views on important subjects and in formal situations. It improves your thinking, listening and speaking skills. It also promotes confidence level. It is an effective tool in problem solving, decision making and personality assessment. GD skills may ensure academic success, popularity and good admission or job offer. Thus it is important to be able to take part in a GD effectively and confidently. Participants should know how to speak with confidence? how to exhibit leadership skills/?and how to make the group achieve the goals?
Phases in a GD
• The central group discussion
What to do in a GD?
• Speaking is important; do not sit
silently. Speak freely.
• Do not monopolize the conversation or talk too much.
• Give everyone a chance to speak.
• Maintain eye contact with everyone in the group.
• Show active listening skills.
• Do not interrupt anyone while they are speaking.
• Keep the topic on track and don’t be irrelevant.
• Encourage someone who is silent to talk.
• Do not argue with anyone.
• Do not debate with anyone, while the group looks on.
• Do not repeat what has been said; be attentive; try to develop on ideas expressed or give out new
• Clarify your doubts and then proceed.
• Be brief.
• Do not commit grammatical errors while talking.
The objective of a selection in GD is mainly to check your team playing skills. You have to understand the other persons’ point of view, while making your point and ensure that your team as a whole reaches a solution or agreement that is both feasible and accepted by all team members.
The four major areas of evaluation in
selection GD are subject knowledge, oral communication skills, leadership skills and team management.
Roles in a Structured GD
• Information seeker and giver
• Procedure facilitator
• Opinion seeker/giver
• Social supporter
• Tension reliever
Participants have to possess a thorough understanding of the topic on which they are supposed to speak. You must prepare yourself to talk on a wide range of subjects. Be aware of the current events, national and international affairs, burning social and economical topics, scientific and
environmental issues, key newspapers’ controversial topics and any experience that may be expected of an educated person. As a member of the group, you are expected to contribute substantially to the discussion. The originality of your ideas, your knowledge and initiative and your approach to the topic or case contribute to your success in the group discussion. The best way to prepare yourself is to read daily newspapers, good magazines, national and international journals and also watch news bulletins and informative programmes on the television.
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The greater your knowledge of the subject, the more enthusiastic and confident you will be during the discussion. Once you have understood the topic or issue, you should be able to generate ideas as well as organize them so that you present it well. You will have the ability to analyze facts or information in a systematic way. A person putting forward new ideas that may work will be accepted as the natural leader of the group. The panel will observe the ideas put forward, their originality, the depth of analysis and their relevance to the topic. Problem solving skills are essential and do not hesitate to give solutions. Your approach to the subject will be observed keenly by the evaluators.
Oral Communication Skills
If subject knowledge is important, communication skills is more important as without expression, the knowledge is of no use. As the exchange of ideas in a group discussion takes place through speech, one of the pre-requisites of success in a GD is the ability to speak confidently and convincingly. Good communication skills include active listening, clarity of thought and expression, apt language and proper non verbal clues.
One of the weaknesses of most human beings is that we love to listen to our own voice rather than listen to others. Listening is as important as speaking in a GD, unless you listen, you cannot contribute to the stated purpose of communication. It is extremely important to listen very carefully, only then you will be able to pick up the thread of discussion and continue. Only active participation as a listener in a group makes a person a good leader. A leader is identified by the panel.
Clarity of thought and expression
Clarity is the art of making yourself clear
to the audience. Only when your expressions are clear, you can convince your team and the panel. More than words, it is the tone in which they are spoken that conveys the message. You should not be too loud or too soft. A lively and cheerful voice with appropriate modulations will attract the audience. Proper articulation of words, achieved through phonetic accuracy is very essential, and artificial accents are to be avoided.
The flow of language must be smooth. Use simple language and avoid long winding
sentences. Appropriateness of language demands that there should be no errors of grammar. Do not use unfamiliar phrases and flowery language. Be precise. Be polite and courteous.
Proper non verbal clues
Non verbal clues include eye contact, body movements, gestures and facial expressions. The panel very keenly watches the non verbal behavior of the team. They generally evaluate the body language clues of the team to determine personality factors such as nervousness, co-operation,
frustration, weakness, insecurity, self confidence, defensiveness, etc. A candidate who appears professional is more likely to be noticed by the panel. A confident posture, appropriate facial expressions and meaningful eye contact with the team will create a good expression.
Expectations of the Panel
You should have the following qualities:
• Team player
• Creativity (out of the box thinking)
• Inspiring ability
Your group behavior is reflected in your ability to interact with the other members of the group. You must be mature enough to not lose your temper even if you are proved wrong. You must be patient and balanced.
Your success in a GD depends on how well you play the role of initiator, information seeker, information giver, procedure facilitator, opinion seeker, opinion giver, clarifier, summarizer, social-supporter, tension reliever, compromiser, attacker, humorist and dominator. The selection panel notes the differences in the amount of participation of the members. They observe the silent spectators, the ever dominating but not contributing much, member who participates actively exhibiting his knowledge and the moderate ones. Your ability lies in analyzing the problem well
and making others to endorse your view. Finally while appreciating others point of view, you should effectively present yours without contradicting other’s opinions. Your ability in convincing the team is your success.
The panel evaluates a candidate’s personal skills which allow him to prove himself as a natural leader in the GD. Though there is no appointed leader in a GD, a leader emerges. Assertiveness, emotional stability, objectivity, self- confidence, decision making, discretion, initiative, good communication skills, patience, persuasiveness and adaptability are some of the leadership qualities that are immensely useful in proving oneself as a natural leader in GD. A good leader should neither be very authoritative nor submissive but must be democratic. Such leaders see to it that all the members in the team participate and when there is a problem, try to deal with it amicably.
Advantages of a GD
• Ideas can be generated, shared and tried out.
• Groups provide a support and growth for any endeavor.
• Combine talents to provide innovative solutions.