Perfecting the Art of Group Discussions

The Management institutes and Companies organize Group Discussions for the purpose admissions and recruitments of freshers.

The purpose of GD being: -

  • To judge the leadership qualities.
  • Analytical abilities.
  • Problem solving capabilities.
  • Communication Skills.

Structure of Group Discussions

As obvious from the name itself, Group Discussions take place within a group of people. (say 10 to 30)

A Debatable Topic or Problem is presented either in writing on a blackboard or is stated verbally by the person in charge, representing the organization.

This person is called the Moderator or Coordinator or Facilitator.

There is also a panel of judges, who just silently observe and evaluate the candidates.

Responsibilities of the Moderator are: -

  • To introduce the topic to the group of candidates.
  • Guide and control the flow of discussion among the group members.
  • Maintain discipline, as the discussion may get too aggressive or even unruly at times.
  • Keep the time-as only a limited period; say of 20-30 minutes is assigned to each session.
  • To also judge and evaluate the candidates on the basis of their initiative, capabilities and other factors of importance (This is valid when the moderator is also acting as a judge)

A Group Discussion in Progress

A Group Discussion in progress is a virtual war of words. Before the actual discussion ensues, the candidates are given the topic and are allowed about 5 minutes to mull over the subject and prepare their arguments.

This is how it typically moves forward and what needs to be kept in mind: -

  • One needs quick and original thinking.
  • The topic may be related to current affairs or some industry related problem.
  • A sound knowledge of national and international affairs is a must.
  • Once the group settles back, one of the members is supposed to initiate the discussion. There can be more than one person trying to begin. In that case one needs to be really assertive and aggressive to take the lead.
  • Contrarily if only one person opens the dialogue, then he/she will surely be noticed but one should be noticed for the substance rather than saying something meaningless.
  • Other members should immediately pick up the thread and carry the discussion forward.
  • Remember that time is of vital importance and before any one realizes it will be up and the discussion will be declared closed.

Tips for Effective Participation in a GD

  • Keep your knowledge of current affairs-especially ‘hot’ topics up to date.
  • If it is a fresher’s interview for an industry or bank etc. then one should gather knowledge about their mission, systems and challenges etc.
  • It may be useful to hold mock group discussions with friends or classmates.
  • Preparedness and self-confidence are the keys to success in a group discussion.
  • Grab an opportunity to speak but never lose sight of the main topic.
  • Be aggressive in presenting your viewpoint but do not be arrogant.
  • Speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear what you are saying.
  • Don’t just say that you agree or disagree with a particular person-present your viewpoint with clear explanations.
  • Remember that in a discussion a person is judged for the leadership qualities and original thinking. Hence speak fast and sensibly.
  • Listen attentively to others so that an important point is not missed out. Sometimes if any speaker cannot explain the point properly, you can adopt and explain the point as your own.
  • You get evaluated not for your thinking but expressing your viewpoint and in the manner you do so.
  • If you perceive that the discussion is moving towards its end, try to quickly take an opportunity to summarize it and draw logical conclusions.
  • During the discussion try to maintain an eye contact with the other speakers and do not focus attention on the moderator alone.
  • Your confidence and communication skills are the best tools in a Group Discussion. Use them deftly and expertly.

CONCLUSION

Group Discussions are interactive. Remember that you will be interrupted and be prepared to hold your ground by making your points clearly and forcefully.

RANJNA VEDHERA