Group Discussion, commonly referred to as GD has become an inseparable part of admission to MBA institutes and campus placements. GD is a many-on-many discussion used to establish certain traits in the candidates. These are the traits that the employers like to see in their employees and institutes like to see in budding MBAs. As we think about appearing in a GD, most of us have queries that revolve around its various stages. This article is an attempt to put your queries to rest and help you succeed in the GD and finally get placed in a good company or join a institute of your choice.The whole article is divided into 4 stages and answers the questions you might have during these stages.
As you have to participate in a Group Discussion. several questions spring across your mind. You want to know what actions and gestures can get you positive points and what can cost you the selection. Here’s a list of Dos and Don’ts of participating in the GD.
Dos of participating in a GD:
- Listen to the subject carefully
- Put down your thoughts on a paper
- Initiate the discussion if you know the subject well
- Listen to others if you don’t know the subject
- Support you point with some facts and figures
- Make short contribution of 25-30 seconds 3-4 times
- Give others a chance to speak
- Speak politely and pleasantly. Respect contribution from other members.
- Disagree politely and agree with what is right.
- Summarize the discussion if the group has not reached a conclusion.
Don’ts of participating in a Group Discussion
- Initiate the discussion if you do not have sufficient knowledge about the given topic.
- Over speak, intervene and snatch other’s chance to speak.
- Argue and shout during the GD
- Look at the evaluators or a particular group member
- Talk irrelevant things and distract the discussion
- Pose negative body gestures like touching the nose, leaning back on the chair, knocking the table with a pen etc.
- Mention erratic statistics.
- Display low self confidence with shaky voice and trembling hands.
- Try to dominate the discussion
- Put others in an embarrassing situation by asking them to speak if they don’t want.
Group Discussion, abbreviated as GD is a form of many-on-many discussion. It has become an inseparable part of admissions to management institutes and your selection in campus interviews. GD is held to identify certain traits that the companies and the institutes like to see in their employees and students. Let’s take a look at the traits which the evaluators look out for in a candidate during the GD.
Whatever you do in a GD, your knowledge about the subject can’t be replaced by anything else. You are required to talk in A GD but a talk that doesn’t contain substantial value doesn’t hold any meaning. Be a voracious reader to increase your knowledge on various subjects. T.V., Newspapers, magazines, News portals etc. could be your good sources of knowledge.
Alertness and presence of mind
In a GD you are required to carefully listen to the other person’s thoughts and keep an argument, example or a supportive statement, fact, example ready to participate in the discussion. Here comes into picture your alertness and ability to think & act immediately. As you participate in a GD, make sure that you sit with an attentive mind and keep taking down the relevant points put forward by others.
You have a lot of good points to put across but if you can’t communicate them clearly, you won’t stand a chance to impress the evaluators. Practice to communicate in a clear and effective way.
Your self confidence adds a lot of value to your candidature. Look at every group member as you speak, avoid too much hand movement and looking at evaluators.
Leadership and team skills
Your participation in a GD clearly establishes not only your Leadership skills but also your capability to work in a team. To meet the objectives, a good leader has to be a team player.
As so many people participate in a GD the chances of discussion moving from the subject are high. Your focus on goal can get you some extra points.
Now, as you are being evaluated for the above discussed traits, you must the things that can work to your disadvantage and might cost you the selection. Following are the things that you must avoid to do as being a part of the GD:
Initiating the discussion without proper subject knowledge
Though initiating the discussion helps you get immediate attention of the evaluators but if you start the discussion with irrelevant details, it works to your disadvantage. Start first only if you know the subject well otherwise wait for others to start and get a feel of the subject before entering into the discussion.
Snatching other’s chance to speak
Give other group members a chance to speak. Talking more won’t get you through the GD In fact it will give the evaluators a feeling that you are not a team player. Making short and relevant contributions of 20-30 seconds 3-4 times in the discussion is enough. Give other members also a chance to speak.
Let the other person finish off his comment before you speak. Interrupting others is counted as a negative trait. Remember, it is a discussion not a debate. Don’t jump at the conclusions. Listen carefully to the other person before putting your point across.
In a GD you are expected to communicate with all the members of the group. Do not keep looking at one person while talking. Establish eye contact with all the members of the group. It is a many-on-many discussion not one-on-one.
Shouting or dominating
Keep you emotions under control. Do not try to dominate the group or let your emotions rule you. Sometimes it might happen that a group member might say something which hurts your emotions for example a comment on your race or religion, make sure that you do not get into an argument. Your focus should be to effectively meet the goals of GD topic.
You have to put across your knowledge on the subject during the GD but you have to be very careful about the thin demarcation between showing off and knowledge sharing. For e.g. Using statistics and facts during the GD is a good thing to do but you must not over do it to nauseate the group members.
Low Self Confidence or Insecurities
As we have seen earlier, one of the traits evaluated during GD is your self confidence. Do not hesitate to speak confidently. You might be short of ideas or knowledge on the subject. Listen to others and put across your thoughts in a clear and audible voice. Make sure that you make eye contact with all the group members.
Slang and negative gestures
GD is a formal discussion. Avoid informal words and negative gestures. For e.g. avoid words like gonna, wanna, ya etc. Similarly avoid gestures like pointing fingers, knocking the desk with the pen.
If you ensure that you do not commit these mistakes during the GD, you will not have to worry about the negative marks and your chances of getting through it also become bright.
Following are some of the things which you must take care off to succeed in the GD.
Make a habit of reading voraciously on every subject. This will keep you ready for any topic for a discussion in GD Your knowledge is your most important weapon in a discussion.
Initiate the discussion
Most of us have a misconception that initiating the discussion would give you an advantage over others. It does give you an advantage but only if you know the subject well and have something relevant to start the discussion otherwise it is a disadvantage.
For e.g. When a group was given a subject “Is Capital punishment right?” some members of the group heard the word punishment and jumped at starting the discussion with out understanding the meaning of Capital Punishment. The evaluators kept hearing for 2 minutes after which they intervened and asked the group if they knew the meaning of Capital Punishment. Not to say, the members who initiated were quite looking at each other’s faces. That is when a quite member of the group got up and explained the meaning of the topic. From this incidence, you can easily tell who must have succeeded in the GD, the ones who initiated the discussion or the one who explained the topic and gave it a right direction.
They say, “Speaking just for the sake of speaking is noise”. So, don’t create noise in the GD rather make some useful and resourceful contributions to get noticed in the discussion.
Speak politely and pleasantly
As you speak make sure that you do not speak at the top of your voice. You should be audible and clear. Remember that you are participating in a discussion which is different from a speech given out by the leaders in their rallies. Even if you disagree with the other’s point of view, disagree politely. Use phrases like, I would like to disagree a bit here, I am sorry but I think I have a slightly different point of view here.
Abstain from using irrelevant information and data from your talks during a GD Speak precisely so that others also get a chance to put across their point of view.
Acquire and apply knowledge
Stay attentive to the ideas put forward by other group members and keep writing the important points discussed during the GD As you get a chance to speak, put forward your views about the topic. You can also agree or disagree with other’s ideas, based on your knowledge about the subject.
Agree with the right
Don’t take a stand on either extreme when the discussion begins. It might happen that you get convinced by other’s argument and want to change your stand. Respect other’s opinion as well and agree with what is right, even if you initially had a different opinion.
Maintain your confidence as you speak. Establish eye contact with other members of the group and do not let your voice tremble.
Try to moderate the discussion if any arguments arise. This is necessary to ensure that the group doesn’t wander from the goal of the GD
Use positive body language
Your body language should not demonstrate dominance or low self confidence. Show your interest in the discussion through your gestures like bending forward a bit, nodding your head.
Be a team player
Last but not the least, be a team player as this is a group activity. Be comfortable with the group members and vice versa.
As you fill up a form for admission to an MBA institute or hear that a good company is coming to your college for campus recruitment, you think about the group discussion that you will have to clear to reach the next round of Personal Interview. Here are the answers to the questions you might have at this stage:
Why do companies or institutes conduct Group Discussion?
Companies or institutes conduct GD to find out the intelligent and smart candidates who have a sound knowledge and personal skills to handle any situation.
What traits do they look for in a candidate during the Group Discussion?
During the GD the candidates are evaluated for the following traits:
- Knowledge base.
- Alertness and presence of mind
- Listening Skills
- Team Skills
- Goal Orientation
How should I prepare for the Group Discussion?
Your preparation for GD has to be broken down into two parts:
Subject knowledge: Your subject knowledge during the GD can’t be replaced by anything else. Read voraciously on all subjects to have good ideas. Following could be your sources of information:
- News Papers
- News Portals
As you read, keep taking down the points on different subjects.
Developing soft skills
Along side your subject knowledge you will have to develop your soft skills to carry yourself out properly during the GD. This needs a work on your communication skills, listening skills, body gestures.
How do I improve my communication skills?
Good communication would ensure that you are able to put across your ideas in a short time during the limited time. It will also ensure that the group remains supportive to you.
To improve your communication skills, read books on communication and general subjects. This will improve your vocabulary and give you ideas to speak effectively. Pick up good phrases and use them in your day to day discussion with friends and colleagues. Be polite in your conversation and let the other person finish speaking before you take up. Disagreeing politely is an art which you must have. You can use phrases like:
I am sorry but I think I disagree with you a bit here, I have a slightly different opinion here, you have a good point but I think there’s another facet also to it.
Read loudly at times to make your pronunciation and voice clear.
Can I speak in a regional language during the Group Discussion?
No. In a GD you are expected to speak in English only.
What will be the duration of the Group Discussion?
A GD normally lasts for 15-20 minutes.
How many members will be there in the Group Discussion?
A GD normally has 8-15 members.
Can we seek evaluator’s help during the Group Discussion?
No. It is for the group members to conduct the GD. The evaluators are spectators who are there to rate you. You should not speak to the evaluators or look at them during the GD.
Can I carry a paper and a pen along with me?
Most of the times, you should be allowed to carry a paper and a pen with you. Check it with the organizers before entering into the GD room.
Will we be given time to prepare on the subject before speaking?
Usually the group members are given 2-5 minutes to put their thoughts together on the announced subject, before speaking.
Will initiating the discussion help?
Initiating the discussion would help if you know the subject well. Speaking just for the sake of speaking would not help. If you don’t know the subject well, it is better to listen to others. When you have gathered enough information about the subject, make an entry into the GD with your thoughts.
Would interrupting others to put my point across help?
Let the other person finish what they want to say before you put your point across. Over aggressiveness can cost you negative.
How many times should I speak during the Group Discussion?
Quality matters more in a GD than quantity. Speak to the point and give others a chance to speak. A short entry of 25-30 seconds 3-4 times during the discussion is enough.
Should I address other group member by name or number?
It will be difficult for you to remember the names of all the members correctly in a short time. Rather than concentrating on remembering names, it will be good if you concentrate on the ideas you want to put across. You can refer your group members by ‘You’, ‘He’, ‘Him’.
How is aggression rated in the Group Discussion?
Aggression to the extent that the group turns hostile is bad. Its always good to stay assertive and polite.
Are we expected to keep a track of time or the evaluators will do that?
Being aware of time won’t hurt but don’t let it distract your participation in the GD.
Are we expected to argue during the Group Discussion?
GD is a discussion and not a debate where you are expected to prove your point right. Avoid arguing in the GD.
What should I do if I don’t understand the topic properly? Should I ask the evaluators to explain?
If you do not understand or know the subject well, it is a better idea to let other start speaking. As you understand the subject make an entry into the discussion. Don’t ask evaluators to explain the subject.
Can I raise my voice during the Group Discussion?
Avoid raising voice to a level where it can be treated as shouting.
Should I take a stand during the Group Discussion?
Its better not to take a stand immediately as the discussion begins. Introduce the subject and present some facts to begin the discussion. As the GD proceeds, you can take a stand. If you are convinced with other’s point of views, there’s no harm in changing your stand but do it in a proper way so that you don’t look fickle minded.
Would presenting facts help during the Group Discussion?
Presenting facts does help but over adding the facts would be nauseating for the group and a show off of your ego. Present the facts as accurately as possible. If you are asked to name the Union territories in India, you should get them all right but at the same time if you are asked about the turn over of IT industry in the country an error of 5% is acceptable
The other members have spoken all the points I want to speak. What should I do?
This can happen if you speak late in the GD. Try to speak within first five minutes of 20 minutes long GD If others have spoken all that you wanted to speak, all you can do is:
- Drop that point and think some thing else
- Add some elaboration to the already spoken point and broaden the scope of the GD.
Should I encourage other members to speak?
Do not pressurize other members to speak if they are not willing to. By doing this you might put them up in an embarrassing situation. If you see that a member is trying to speak but is not able to than you can encourage and help him.
I am not getting a chance to speak, what should I do?
Get into the discussion by politely saying that I think I have a different point of view here, if you disagree with the speaker or by saying Yes, I think you have a point here. I would like to add some further information here.
Is it necessary to summarize the discussion?
It is a good idea to summarize the discussion as the goal of GD is that the group should reach a conclusion. However, if the group has not been able to reach a conclusion, just summarize all that has been discussed.
- Body Language
- Communication Skills
Importance of Knowledge in Group Discussion
Knowledge is any information or awareness that is known. Skills could also be considered as knowledge. Knowledge cannot be acquired overnight. It is gained through experience.
Illusions, judgments can also be a part of knowledge.
In any group discussion, until you are not aware of what you need to speak, you will definitely land up making a fool of yourself.
- Knowledge will help in answering queries of audience.
- It will keep you motivated in a group.
- If you are aware of what you have to speak, confidence will automatically sink in.
- Knowledge will help you argue with other team mates in the group.
- Explicit knowledge about facts and figures helps the most. They help to make your point stronger.
- Knowledge keeps you going and enthusiastic.
It should be noted that knowledge can never be complete or satisfied. It is a gradual incremental process. The more you get, the lesser it falls.
Importance of Presentation in a group discussion
Presentation is a mechanism by which one shows his/her talent. It can be considered as a way of communicating with someone.
How does one present?
Different ideas can be presented using diagrams, flowcharts, power point presentations etc.
- A good presentation is impressive in a group discussion.
- The presenter must have a body language that is very expressive and not offensive. This shows that the speaker doesn’t lack mannerism.
- The presenter must have a direct eye contact with the team mates. This shows confidence.
- Good presentation skills are very essential in today’s competitive environment.
- Presentation often expresses the speaker’s creativity in different forms that leaves an impression on the viewers.
- Presentation is not just about the material but your own self. The way you dress is an important aspect of presentation.
A good presentation will always leave an impact on the audience. It brings out immediate ideas and brings out the speakers personality in a unique way.
Importance of Listening in a group discussion
Listening can defined as incorporation of words and their meanings that are spoken. It is an important mode of communication.
Difference between listening and hearing:-
Listening is incorporating words and their meanings by comprehending the same.
Hearing does not involve any understanding.
Active listening is an essential skill for a presenter. Active listening is acquired with attention and understanding ideas and facts.
- Listening in a group discussion helps to give new ideas.
- Listening helps to not jump to conclusions.
- Good listening will avoid aggression because you know what the other person says.
- Listening will help learn something new.
- Listening in a group motivates the environment.
- Good listening skills in a group discussion can help you notice flaws in what others speak.
- Listening will help you comprehend what the other team member speaks even if the topic is not well known.
- Listening keeps you aware and alert.
- If you listen, team mates in the group will listen to you.
Importance of Initiation in a group discussion
In a group discussion, there may be many people discussing on a topic. Initiation is an attempt to start or initiate a “talk”. Initiation does not mean you interrupt and not allow others to speak. Initiation also means take hold of an opportunity to speak.
- Initiation makes other people realize you are well versed with the topic.
- It helps to sustain confidence throughout the discussion.
- Initiation leaves a positive impression.
- Ideal ways to initiate In a group discussion is through:-
i. Quotes and definitions.
ii. Some known facts and figures.
iii. Short stories.
- Initiating a group discussion also covers up the silence later on.
Body Language in a group discussion
One of the most important elements of communication is body language. Our gestures, hand movements, facial expressions etc come under body language.
When we communicate, it is very essential for us to have the correct body language to avoid offence to anyone.
- In a group discussion, Positive body gestures are a sign of confidence and security. They are a sign of active participation and leave a good impression.
- Positive gestures include Walking upright, Shaking hands confidently etc.
- Often body language conveys a lot of messages that words may not.
- A positive body language increases an impact on others.
- Body language helps to build a rapport with others.
- Body language helps to understand what others may try to convey.
- Body language helps to control aggression and conflicts.
- Body language can show you are energetic in a group discussion.
When communicating, it is important for us to have positive body gestures. Direct and steady eye contact is the most important of them.
Communication skills in a group discussion
Communication skills are extremely essential in today’s competitive environment. A good communicator should be able to receive information as sent.
- Good communication skills in a group discussion can show you are an active listener.
- It helps to clearly express your ideas.
- Good communication skills help to exchange ideas.
- Good communication skills avoid professional glitches in a team discussion.
- Good communication skills help to avoid misunderstandings.
- It helps to negotiate on various issues in a group discussion.
- It adds a lot of value in a presentation in a group discussion.
- Good communication skills can grab attention of evaluators.
- It can show that you are stable, level headed, confident and quite well aware of the arguments.
Communication skill is not just about speaking fluently in English. It’s about being confident and the right attitude.
Cooperation in a group discussion
Cooperation is when two or more people work together to achieve some target. Cooperation is an essential ingredient in team work in a professional environment.
- Cooperation in a group discussion gives positive vibes to the environment.
- It motivates the environment.
- Cooperation is important in a team to reduce nervousness.
- It builds confidence.
- Cooperation is the driving force of success in a group discussion.
- Cooperation is not as easy as it may sound. One really needs to adjust according to the other person and environment. It is a very mutual process.
- One person may be cooperative but the other person may not be in a discussion. One needs to keep his calm.
- Cooperation amongst the team mates leads to a positive impression.
- The evaluators feel that members who are cooperating are adjusting and can fit into a professional environment.
Cooperation in a group discussion shows that you can work as a team when many people in a group may have contradicting opinions. Cooperation helps to avoid squabbles and misunderstandings.