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Group Discussion 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.
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Role of UN in peacekeeping BPOs in INDIA How to deal with terrorism Corruption is the price we pay for democracy Beauty contests degrade womanhood Multinational corporations: Are they devils in disguise? Media is a mixed blessing/How ethical is media? Managerial skills learnt in the classroom can never match those learnt from experience Advertising is a waste of resources. Privatization will lead to less corruption. Joint family is a blessing in disguise Women are good managers Brain-Drain has to be stopped Water resources should be nationalized The role of NGOs in economics and politics Examinations - has it killed education? Should gambling be legalized? China market - a threat to Indian market Should euthanasia be legalized? The pros and cons of having a credit card Overweight air hostess are fired shall we fire overweight policeman and physically unfit politicians? Parents dont understand children Computer viruses are good Daughters are more caring than sons

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Preparing for Group Discussion Just before the Group Discussion During the Group Discussion

Group Discussion 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.
Next>> Group discussion topics y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y

Role of UN in peacekeeping BPOs in INDIA How to deal with terrorism Corruption is the price we pay for democracy Beauty contests degrade womanhood Multinational corporations: Are they devils in disguise? Media is a mixed blessing/How ethical is media? Managerial skills learnt in the classroom can never match those learnt from experience Advertising is a waste of resources. Privatization will lead to less corruption. Joint family is a blessing in disguise Women are good managers Brain-Drain has to be stopped Water resources should be nationalized The role of NGOs in economics and politics Examinations - has it killed education? Should gambling be legalized? China market - a threat to Indian market Should euthanasia be legalized? The pros and cons of having a credit card Overweight air hostess are fired shall we fire overweight policeman and physically unfit politicians? Parents dont understand children Computer viruses are good Daughters are more caring than sons

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Preparing for Group Discussion Just before the Group Discussion During the Group Discussion

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. Heres a list of Dos and Donts of participating in the GD. Dos of participating in a GD:
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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 dont 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.

Donts of participating in a Group Discussion


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Initiate the discussion if you do not have sufficient knowledge about the given topic. Over speak, intervene and snatch others 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 dont 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. Lets take a look at the traits which the evaluators look out for in a candidate during the GD. Knowledge Whatever you do in a GD, your knowledge about the subject cant be replaced by anything else. You are required to talk in A GD but a talk that doesnt contain substantial value doesnt 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 persons 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. Communication

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You have a lot of good points to put across but if you cant communicate them clearly, you wont stand a chance to impress the evaluators. Practice to communicate in a clear and effective way. Confidence 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. Goal Orientation 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 others chance to speak Give other group members a chance to speak. Talking more wont 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. Interrupting others 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. Dont jump at the conclusions. Listen carefully to the other person before putting your point across. Dialogue 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. Show off 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.

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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. Read voraciously 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 others 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, dont 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 others 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. Be prcised 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 others ideas, based on your knowledge about the subject. Agree with the right Dont take a stand on either extreme when the discussion begins. It might happen that you get convinced by others argument and want to change your stand. Respect others opinion as well and agree with what is right, even if you initially had a different opinion. Speak confidently

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Maintain your confidence as you speak. Establish eye contact with other members of the group and do not let your voice tremble. Moderate Try to moderate the discussion if any arguments arise. This is necessary to ensure that the group doesnt 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:
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Knowledge base. Alertness and presence of mind Communication Confidence Leadership 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 cant be replaced by anything else. Read voraciously on all subjects to have good ideas. Following could be your sources of information:
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News Papers Magazines News Portals TV

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 theres 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 evaluators 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 dont 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 wont hurt but dont 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 dont understand the topic properly? Should I ask the evaluators to explain? If you do not understand or know the subject well, it i s a better idea to let other start speaking. As you understand the subject make an entry into the discussion. Dont 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 others point of views, theres no harm in changing your stand but do it in a proper way so that you dont 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:
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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.

Prerequisites of a Group Discussion


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Knowledge Presentation Listening Initiation Body Language Communication Skills Cooperation

Group discussion skills


Submitted by TE Editor on 17 June, 2010 - 18:57

Group discussions occur in many different formats from very informal ones between friends to highly structured and challenging discussions included as part of a selection process. In both cases, there are a number of specific skills that we can help our students develop to become better able to contribute effectively to group discussions.
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Why teach group discussion skills? Types of discussion Useful sub-skills for students Setting up group discussions Giving and encouraging feedback Conclusion

Why teach group discussion skills? Developing group discussion skills is useful for everyday life as we regularly find ourselves having discussions amongst friends, family and colleagues. These may vary from very informal chats about day-to-day things, to more serious topics, for example a discussion about a recent news story or a problem that needs to be solved.
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Additionally, group discussions are increasingly being used in the job market during interviews and selection procedures. These can take a variety of formats, but the key skills remain very similar. Last but not least, group discussions offer an opportunity for extended speaking (and listening!) practice by all of the contributors. Group discussion practice and skill development is therefore useful for all students.

Types of discussion There are a variety of different types of discussions that occur naturally and which we can recreate in the classroom. These include discussions where the participants have to:
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Make decisions (e.g. decide who to invite to a party and where to seat them) Give and / or share their opinions on a given topic (e.g. discussing beliefs about the effectiveness of capital punishment) Create something (e.g. plan and make a poster as a medium for feedback on a language course)

Solve a problem (e.g. discussing the situations behind a series of logic problems)

Some discussion topics may fall into more than one of these categories, but it is useful to consider a variety of formats to which the students can apply the skills they are learning.

Useful sub-skills for students There are a number of different sub-skills which students will need to be able to successfully and effectively participate in a group discussion. Students need to develop the ability to: Analyse This skill can be developed by giving students the topic individually and asking them to brainstorm or mind-map all of the possible sub-topics they could speak about. The students can then swap their notes and assess or analyse the relevance of each of the sub-topics their partner has included. Together, the students then draw up a fresh list or mind-map and discuss how the sub-topics might be linked together, along with examples or reasons for any arguments they might have. Persuade This skill comes in useful when students need to make decisions on how to do something (e.g. which candidate should get a job). A fun activity to develop this skill is to give groups of students this topic and ask them to decide on the profile of the perfect candidate, creating a list of 7 adjectives. The students are then re-grouped and asked to persuade the other members of the group that their selection is the best while compiling a second, negotiated list. The group members who retain the most from their original lists are the winners. Note down useful phrases that you hear the students using while doing this task and discuss these at the end for future reference. Control emotions This can be practised by giving the students a fairly controversial topic, such as Friends are more important than family and asking the students to decide whether they agree, disagree or have no opinion, making notes on their main arguments to support their viewpoint. Divide the students into groups ensuring that there is a mix of views within each group. Explain that for this discussion, the aim is to keep their voices low and try to control their emotions as far as possible. Monitor and give feedback on these areas. Support One of the most important things for this skill is for students to learn when it is and isnt appropriate to interrupt and how to do it. Very often students will talk over each other in an effort to get their point across and forget to listen. To practise this, you can get your students to make a list in small groups of when it is and isnt appropriate to interrupt other speakers. They should include things like not appropriate during the middle of a point, if the speaker has not said very much previously, or when you are feeling angry and liable to say something youll regret. It is appropriate when the speaker has been dominating the discussion for too long, what the speaker is saying is completely irrelevant to the topic, or you dont understand the point he / she has made.

You can then give them or elicit a list of phrases which they might use to interrupt politely (e.g. Can i just add something here?, Sorry Id just like to clarify something, etc.) The students then write five of these on slips of paper (one per slip) and have a group discussion on a given topic. The aim is to use all of the language on their slips. When they have used a phrase, they put the slip in the middle of the table. The other students in the group judge whether the interruption was appropriate / polite. If not, they take the slip back and try again. Use functional language Depending on the types of group discussions that you plan to do with your class, it is useful to draw up a list of useful functional language for the students to refer to. This could include phrases for functions such as Giving reasons, Giving your opinion, Agreeing and disagreeing, etc. You can either make up the list yourself and distribute it or get the students to do this. For each group discussion, you can then refer them to the appropriate section of the list and give them a few moments to consider the language before beginning the discussion. Setting up group discussions There are several key things to consider when setting up group discussions in the classroom to ensure that they run successfully.
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Give the students some planning time either individually or in small groups. Don t just give them the topic and say go ! It is often useful to discuss some associated vocabulary or functional language that they might find useful Choose topics which you are confident your students will find interesting. Get them to brainstorm some ideas for discussions they would like to do and use this as a starting point Ensure a balance between input and practice Use a variety of styles / types Vary group size and procedure Some companies do selection group discussions with very large groups of people over ten in some cases. If your students will be facing these types of group discussions in the future make sure they get some practice doing them. It can also be useful to mix classes of students so they have practice doing discussions with people they don t already know. Encourage group discussions outside class time Give students some extra feedback forms to use to give each other input on how they perform in group discussions outside of class.

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Giving and encouraging feedback Feedback can take several forms and it is a good idea to vary the way it is given. Students can observe each other doing group discussions and give each other feedback on the specific areas of input that you have covered (ideally using a feedback form that you have created).

Additionally, students can do a Reflective group feedback exercise where at the end of the group discussion they discuss how effective each of the participants was during the discussion. Again, giving them some focused questions to guide this stage will help them. You could also try video-taping the group discussions and playing sections of these back to the class to analyse. Some students find this extremely useful. Finally, monitor the groups yourself and make notes for feedback on whole groups or individual performances. Keeping a record of these will help you and the students to see where they have improved.

Conclusion As we have seen, group discussions can take a variety of formats and are useful for all types of students. They can be done in preparation for job interviews or as extended speaking practice simply to increase fluency. It is important to consider the different sub-skills that are involved in participating in a group discussion and ensure that you do activities that address each of these. Additionally, structuring and varying the way that feedback is given will help the students to identify areas for improvement.