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GROUP DISCUSSION BY AMARNATH RAO

What is a GD or Group Discussion? A GD is a forum where people sit together; discuss a topic with the common objective of finding a solution for a problem or discussing an issue that is given to them. A topic or an issue is given to a group and they are given a certain amount of time to discuss it. The group members are expected to discuss the topic/issue and try to arrive at a consensus/conclusion. The discussion has to be carried out by the group with the intention of facilitating exchange of views amongst various individuals of the group. Why are GDs used as a part of the selection process? GDs measure certain attributes of the candidates that are otherwise difficult to identify and time consuming to assess. A number of people who can communicate their ideas well and discuss effectively with others in a one-to-one situation become tongue tied in a group. A GD will help identify people who have such skills and who do not. In any real-life situation, in any organization, individuals do not work in isolation of others. Decision making is done after discussing the relevant issues with others be it superiors, peers or sub-ordinates. In a number of such cases, the individual will need to interact with more than one person at the same time very akin to a GD type of situation. Unless the individual is equipped with some of the skills mentioned above, they will not be able to do justice to their role in the organization. Differences between GDs and Public Speaking or Debating:Debating and Public Speaking are one-to-many communication and GD is a many-to-many situation. A debate, an elocution or PS are solo performances whereas a GD is NOT. In a debate it your individual views that matter. In a GD it is the views of the entire group that matter. What does the moderator look for in the participants in a GD? The four most important parameters the moderator evaluates the participants in a GD are: 1. 2. 3. 4. Content Communication Group Behavior Leadership skills

Content: Content is the single most important factor in a GD. The moderator would like to understand how well-versed you are with the knowledge relevant to the topic. All your man-management skills, etc. will be of no use in an organization unless you are sound on subject and knowledge. That is the reason for content to become such an important aspect of the evaluation process. It is very important for you to clearly display your understanding

of all the issues pertaining to the topic. The more valid points you make, the more marks you score. The expectation is that you should be able to add to the overall knowledge of the group on account of the contributions you make with your knowledge of the subject. The group should gain from its interaction with you because of what you have to contribute. Do not miss any opportunity whatsoever to exhibit your knowledge of the topic in a GD. Communication: Communication covers three aspects. There are: 1. Correctly conveying what you want to say 2. Listening 3. Language The first aspect pertains to how you say what you want to say. A number of times, we find that the listener understands what we were saying very differently from what we intended to convey. This only means that we have not been able to put across our ideas properly and correctly. Listening is almost as important in a GD as speaking. You have to make sure that you focus your attention on what other group members are saying instead of concentrating only on speaking. It is very easy for the moderator to make out if you have been listening or not based on what you speak when you get an opportunity. The third aspect, language, is an area where a number of students end up making a mess of things. Unfortunately, this is the case with Students who are fluent in English and with students who are not, and feel inhibited while speaking and hold themselves back in a GD. Students who are fluent in English sometimes tend to use flowery language to show their English speaking skills and in the process of showing off their vocabulary, they end up using words in the wrong context. Those of you not so fluent in English should not worry about your lack of fluency but go right ahead and start speaking Remember that English is a foreign language and there is hardly anybody who can speak it without any mistakes at all. The correctness of your English grammar is not being tested nor is the range of your vocabulary. All that is being tested is your ability to convey your ideas in such a manner that others can easily understand. Group Behavior: In real life situation in an organization, all interaction is between superiors/peers/subordinates, and it is imperative that every individual is able to interact with everybody else in a mature manner. Hence how each participant interacts with the other members of the group becomes very important. The moderator will be looking at this aspect of the participants personality. You need to exhibit is a rational approach, an adultto-adult interaction with the other group members. You should listen and understand

views expressed. Integrate them with your ideas and present a cogent picture of the groups view and help arrive at a consensus in the discussion. Leadership Skills: Leadership means showing direction to the group. Leadership is not about speaking the loudest or the most in the group. A leader is the person who is spoken to the most. It is not possible for all members in a group to display leadership skills. Do not go out of your way to establish yourself as a leader. It will be quite adequate it you are able to display your knowledge, communicate effectively and behave maturely. The moderator is looking for an individual who is a balanced thinker. Never get emotional about the topic. Whatever your views are and how strongly you feel about it, what is required is for you to maintain an objective and balanced approach. Types of GD GDs are divided into two broad categories. Based on the topic/issue given for discussion they are:Topic based GD and Case based GD (also called Case Studies) & News paper Articles Topic based GD The group discusses a topic that is typically in the form of a statement. By the end of the discussion the group should strive to arrive at a consensus on the issue discussed in the topic. Case studies a short description of a situation is given to the group. The case will typically be a problem solving situation. The group has to study, analyze and discuss their views about the possible solution for the problem. News paper articles Students are given recent articles of interest that have appeared in the newspapers. Participants are usually given 5 minutes to read the article and then have a regular GD on the article. Initiation Techniques Initiating a GD is a high profit-high loss strategy. When you initiate a GD, you not only grab the opportunity to speak, you also grab the attention of the examiner and your fellow candidates. If you can make a favorable first impression with your content and communication skills after you initiate a GD, it will help you sail through the discussion. But if you initiate a GD and stammer/ stutter/ quote wrong facts and figures, the damage might be irreparable. If you initiate a GD impeccably but don't speak much after that, it gives the impression that you started the GD for the sake of starting it or getting those initial kitty of points earmarked for an initiator! When you start a GD, you are responsible for putting it into the right perspective or framework. So initiate one only if you have in-depth knowledge about the topic at hand. There are different techniques to initiate a GD and make a good first impression: i. Quotes

ii. Definition iii. Question iv. Shock statement v. Facts, figures and statistics vi. Short story vii. General statement Quotes Quotes are an effective way of initiating a GD. If the topic of a GD is: Should the Censor Board be abolished?, you could start with a quote like, 'Hidden apples are always sweet'. For a GD topic like, Customer is King, you could quote Sam (Wal-mart) Walton's famous saying, 'There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company -from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.' Definition Start a GD by defining the topic or an important term in the topic. For example, if the topic of the GD is Advertising is a Diplomatic Way of Telling a Lie, why not start the GD by defining advertising as, 'Any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services through mass media like newspapers, magazines, television or radio by an identified sponsor'? For a topic like The Malthusian Economic Prophecy is no longer relevant, you could start by explaining the definition of the Malthusian Economic Prophecy. Question Asking a question is an impactful way of starting a GD. It does not signify asking a question to any of the candidates in a GD so as to hamper the flow. It implies asking a question, and answering it yourself. Any question that might hamper the flow of a GD or insult a participant or play devil's advocate must be discouraged. Questions that promote a flow of ideas are always appreciated. For a topic like, Should India go to war with Pakistan, you could start by asking, 'What does war bring to the people of a nation? We have had four clashes with Pakistan. The pertinent question is: what have we achieved?' ~ Shock statement Initiating a GD with a shocking statement is the best way to grab immediate attention and put forth your point. If a GD topic is, The Impact of Population on the Indian Economy, you could start with, 'At the centre of the Indian capital stands a population clock that ticks away relentlessly. It tracks 33 births a minute, 2,000 an hour, 48,000 a day. Which calculates to about 12 million every year? That is roughly the size of Australia As a current political slogan puts it, 'Nothing's impossible when 1 billion Indians work together'.' Facts, figures and statistics If you decide to initiate your GD with facts, figure and statistics, make sure to quote them accurately. Approximation is allowed in macro level figures, but micro level figures need to be correct and accurate.

For example, you can say, approximately 70 per cent of the Indian population stays in rural areas (macro figures, approximation allowed). But you cannot say 30 states of India instead of 28 (micro figures, no approximations). Stating wrong facts works to your disadvantage. Short story Use a short story in a GD topic like, Attitude is everything. This can be initiated with, 'A child once asked a balloon vendor, who was selling helium gas-filled balloons, whether a blue-colored balloon will go as high in the sky as a green-colored balloon. The balloon vendor told the child, it is not the color of the balloon but what is inside it that makes it go high.' General statement Use a general statement to put the GD in proper perspective. For example, if the topic is, Should Sonia Gandhi be the prime minister of India?, you could start by saying, 'Before jumping to conclusions like, 'Yes, Sonia Gandhi should be', or 'No, Sonia Gandhi should not be', let's first find out the qualities one needs to be a a good prime minister of India. Then we can compare these qualities with those that Mrs. Gandhi possesses. This will help us reach the conclusion in a more objective and effective manner.' Summarization Techniques Most GDs do not really have conclusions. A conclusion is where the whole group decides in favor or against the topic. But every GD is summarized. You can summaries what the group has discussed in the GD in a nutshell. Keep the following points in mind while summarizing a discussion: Avoid raising new points. Avoid stating only your viewpoint. Avoid dwelling only on one aspect of the GD. Keep it brief and concise. It must incorporate all the important points that came out during the GD. If the examiner asks you to summaries a GD, it means the GD has come to an end. Do not add anything once the GD has been summarized. To be able to meet the above requirements during a Group Discussion, one should keep in mind the following basic mantras: a) Be Yourself. Be as natural as possible and dont try to be someone you are not. b) Take time to organize your thoughts. Dont suddenly jump to any conclusion. Think before you speak so that you dont speak anything irrelevant to the topic being discussed. c) Dont make the mistake of looking at the panel while you are speaking. You are in a Group Discussion and you are expected to discuss among group members, so always look at your group members while you are speaking. d) Seek clarifications if you have any doubts regarding the subject, before the discussion commences. e) Your body language says a lot about you - your gestures and mannerisms are more likely to reflect your attitude than what you say.

f) Never try to show your dominance. Be assertive, speak yourself and let others speak as well. g) Dont lose your cool if anyone says anything you object to. The key is to stay objective: Don't take the discussion personally. h) Show your leadership skills. Motivate the other members of the team to speak. Be receptive to others' opinions and do not be abrasive or aggressive. i) Remember, opening the discussion is not the only way of gaining attention and recognition. If you do not give valuable insights during the discussion, all your efforts of initiating the discussion will be in vain. Dont be disheartened if you did not do well in your First Group Discussion. Instead try to learn from your past mistakes. Remember, Practice makes man perfect!!!!! Parameters used to assess speeches and group discussions in All India Debates Conducted in Loyola College: I) Speech Assessment o Ideas & their Logical Coherence o Opening Statement o Effective Conclusion o Posture o Gesture o Eye-contact o Audibility o Clarity o Pronunciation o Modulation o Personalized presentation o Conviction o Time II) Group Discussion o Body Language with cordiality and confidence o Avoiding argument and debates o Speaking loudly o Speaking clearly o Speaking to all o Listening fully o Listening attentively o Contributing new facts o Following systematic procedure o Giving chance to all the members o Point of Order o Raising questions for clarifications o Effective Summing up Tips for doing well in GD

1. You should first take necessary steps to improve your knowledge levels at the earliest. However, with whatever level of knowledge you have, you should strive to generate more ideas/points. 2. Regular newspaper and relevant magazines reading. 3. Take specific care to ensure that you are prepared to take speak on most issues of current relevance. 4. Take specific care to read up current economic and political issues. 5. Form Interest groups in your institution and regularly practice GDs. Hearing lot of other friends speak will expand our learning base and allow us to extrapolate our understanding and give shape to our ideas and opinions. 6. Among the sample set of topics given for GD, prepare notes in the form of bullet points for at least 5 topics everyday and speak those points loud and clear. 7. When you listen to your friends speak on that topic note down new points and observations too. 8. A mix of facts and figures along with your view on that topic is a killing combination. It comes with lot of practice reading, listening and being up-to-date on current topics.

TIPS DURING Group Discussion 1. Do not be in a hurry to start if you are not ready yet with a strong entry. 2. Listen to what others are saying do not make the mistake of writing your points when others are speaking. It is a very bad attitude. 3. Make best use of the time given to prepare at the start of the GD. Normally 5-10 minutes is given to jot down notes. 4. Make short and crisp notes do not write long sentences during preparation. 5. Look at everyone in the group while you speak. Resist from speaking to a single person in the group it is a group discussion and not a one-on-one conversation. 6. Do not get into unnecessary details. Make a strong point and end before the group loses interest or somebody interrupts you. 7. If you do not have any idea on the topic wait for others to start and you will get an idea for sure. 8. Do not shout or raise your voice for an impact. It is detrimental. 9. Do not interrupt somebody who is speaking even before he makes a point. Wait for him/her to complete. 10. You can interrupt somebody when he/she is repetitive / deviating from the topic / Taking a very long time to convey his idea 11. Keep watching for people who want to speak but not able to jump in take a chance. Their body language will help you understand. Convince the group to listen to them. A good group discussion is one which has everyone participate. 12. It is not good idea to repeat someone else idea in different words. Also do not waste time on giving more examples on the same idea / point. Resort to repetition as the last option if you are completely lost as to what to say. It is better to talk something than not to speak at all. 13. Have a pleasant disposition while you are listening or speaking. Do not have a serious face.

14. Do not simply oppose someones idea if you oppose an idea have a strong reason and also have another point to say in support of your idea. It makes a good impact. 15. Try not asking questions to the group unless and until the question itself is making a strong point in itself. Just asking questions will not help. 16. Be loud, clear and concise. The entire group sitting there should be able to listen to you. 17. Do not look at the moderator / facilitator while you speak for all practical purposes he is not a part of the group at all and there is no need to watch him. It is a very bad practice and you will also lose your focus. 18. Try thinking differently and take the ideas to the next level. Most of the time, most group discussions are stuck around the same point and rarely does one make an attempt to make a bold, new point. 19. Do not be a cat on the wall- take a clear stance on the topic. Every topic has no doubt something in favour and something against. All are right. What is more important is whether your opinions are loaded against / in favour. Though you may agree with some points on the other side also. 20. When you speak and nobody interrupts, do not take advantage of this situation more than an extent. Continue to speak only if your content further makes sense. Else prod others around you to initiate and continue the discussion. 21. Do not make fun / talk casually over others opinions / viewpoint. You have to right to differ but not to insult. 22. Use the opportunity to summarize the discussion if you can. It really makes a good impact on the group and also the moderator. 23. Good summary states all important points discussed both for and against. So one must have listened very attentively all the while to summarize well. 24. Sometimes using real examples in your life may create an impact and reveal more about your nature and attitude. Tell them when you find it fitting to the theme.