Group discussion is a communicative situation wherein participants are brought together/come together to discuss a specific issue/topic at hand. This could be a formal situation or an informal situation, wherein you are sitting with a group of friends and table your point of view, listening to the point of view of the other’s present, considering it and analyzing their perspective, have an healthy discussion around it and reach to a conclusion.
The discussion enriches you, as you gain more knowledge by the end of the discussion and may help you get more clarity on the topic. It also gives you an opportunity to speak and organize your thoughts, helps you flush out your fear of public speaking and get more confident with time. Not just this, but it helps you to learn to respect other’s opinion and behave when you don’t agree with them.
Same principals are applicable to a formal Group Discussion or GD. Formal GDs are conducted mostly by institutes to select a candidate and by organizations as a means to filter prospective employees.It is used as one of the preliminary elimination rounds used by the organizations to filter out large number of participants in one shot. The ones who successfully cross this impediment, are lead to the next round of technical and personal interviews.
Even if a candidate is extremely academically inclined and has done an internship from the most relevant of profiles and organizations, yet the candidate can’t escape this challenge of sitting together and sensibly debating on a topic within the given guidelines and timelines.
It tests several aspects of his personality. It tests how well read he is, is he aware of what is going around him? His communication skills. His ability to hold onto his opinion and support it with facts and logical arguments and not cow down even as the pressure mounts. It tests his tactfulness while disagreeing. His endurance as a leader as well as his conduct as a team player is on display during this particular round.
Since, it is the litmus test and unavoidable. What can a student do to be able to qualify and reach the next round of interview? Lot and lot can be done during the three to four years of college, without really stressing about it. All one needs is the right strategy.
Here are a few pointers to improve upon your GD skills:
Read- Can’t overemphasis on one thing and that is reading. If you really intend to qualify for the dream company and the dream job or that MBA institute, which you aspire to study from then you need to read. Make it a point to read at least an hour a day. One designated hour will give you enough and more material needed as content for the GD, provided you read the right material.
From the very first year of the college, you may like to subscribe to either a newspaper or an app which keeps you updated of the events around you, make sure you give about half and hour of dedicated time for the task. Slowly it will build on your knowledge and will improve the quality of your discussion even with your friends and family.
Read top 5 to 10 classics of the genre of your choice and on the most likely topics of GD. Read on a variety of topics.
Speak- Work on your communication skills, if you read enough this will help you with your vocabulary and use of words and sentences structure. Join Toastmasters and other such forums which are primarily organized to develop your communications skills your interpersonal skills and your leadership skills. Participate in Speech contests etc. to hone your communication skills and confidence. As a matter of fact participating in various public facing events helps one to gain confidence and interpersonal skills.
Rehearse- Collect a group of friends to form an indigenous group. Pick up a topic of debate/GD and have a formal debate on such topics. Make sure that this is not just a one off event, but a weekly occurrence. This could be not just educative but extremely fun.
Write- you may like to collect your thoughts around GD topics by not only reading but also writing your thoughts down, this will help you organize your thoughts and give it a concrete form.
Dress up- when you dress up properly in a formal attire it gives you confidence and a very professional apprearance.it takes just first 3 minutes to form an impression and make it a lasting one.
Body Language- during the GD it’s good to be assertive about a certain opinion you hold, yet same needs to be conveyed very respectfully and pleasantly and not by stamping on other participant’s foot or banging your fist on the table. The body language has to be extremely relaxed and positive but formal to give an impression that you are in control. You can’t shout or loose temper. But make sure that your voice is well heard and it doesn’t get swamped in the noise all around.
Lead- usually when the topic is announced by the moderator, there is a pin drop silence of a minute or so , since everyone is hesitant and nervous. Gather your thoughts and plunge right in if you think you have a point to make. It creates a positive impact and establishes you as the leader.
But in case you want time to gather your thoughts let someone else lead. it’s better to participate at later stage with a strong proposition then a weak start. Clarity and conciseness in presentation of your opinion is the key to formal conversation. No emotional overflow please. Speak objectively without getting impassioned. Beating around the bush takes away precious time and the argument may venture into unwarranted territories.
Facts and Figures- whenever possible using facts and figures makes your argument more objective and difficult to disprove, the more logical and fact based your arguments the more well read you appear and its difficult to supersede it.