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Last updated on: February 16, 2005 18:26 IST

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n our previous article, we discussed the personality traits required to


excel at Group Discussions.

Let's go on to how GD is initiated and summarised.

A group discussion can be categorically divided into three different


phases:

p. Initiation/ Introduction

pp. Body of the group discussion

ppp. Summarisation/ Conclusion

Let's stress on the initiation and summarisation:

j ppp  p
 

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 favourable 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 indepth knowledge about the topic at hand.

There are different techniques to initiate a GD and make a good first impression:

p. Quotes
pp. Definition
ppp. Question
p . Shock statement
. Facts, figures and statistics
p. Short story
pp. General statement

- 


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.'

- | p pp

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.

- 
 p

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 [ Images ] 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?'
- ˜  

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 [ Images ]. As a current political slogan puts it, 'Nothing's impossible when 1 billion Indians work
together'.'

- @  p
   p p

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.

For a GD topic like, China, a Rising Tiger, you could start with, 'In 1983, when China was still in its initial
stages of reform and opening up, China's real use of Foreign Direct Investment only stood at $636 million.
China actually utilised $60 billion of FDI in 2004, which is almost 100 times that of its 1983 statistics."

- ˜ 

¢se 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-coloured balloon will go as high in the sky as a green-coloured balloon. The
balloon vendor told the child, it is not the colour of the balloon but what is inside it that makes it go high.'

-    

¢se a general statement to put the GD in proper perspective.

For example, if the topic is, Should Sonia Gandhi [ Images ] 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.'

˜
p p  p


Most GDs do not really have conclusions. A conclusion is where the whole group decides in favour or
against the topic.

But every GD is summarised. You can summarise what the group has discussed in the GD in a nutshell.
Keep the following points in mind while summarising 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 summarise a GD, it means the GD has come to an end. Do not add
anything once the GD has been summarised.

—

 

ovember 25, 2004 12:41 IST

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ave you ever seen a football game?

Or been a part of a football team?

These questions might seem awkward and absurd when talking about How to crack a Group Discussion
to get into a top B-School.

But they are relevant to understand the nuances of a Group Discussion.

Just reiterating the cliché that a Group discussion, or GD, as it is commonly called, is a group process or
a team building exercise does not help students.

As in a football game, where you play like a team, passing the ball to each team member and aim for a
common goal, GD is also based on team work, incorporating views of different team members to reach a
common goal.

A Group Discussion at a B-School can be defined as a formal discussion involving ten to 12 participants
in a group.

They are given a topic. After some time, during which they collect their thoughts, the group is asked to
discuss the topic for 20 to 25 minutes.

B-Schools use the GD process to assess a candidate's personality traits.

Here are some of the most important personality traits that a candidate should possess to do well at a
GD:

R 

B-Schools lay great emphasis on this parameter because it is essential for managers to be team players.

The reason: Managers always work in teams.

At the beginning of his career, a manager works as a team member. And, later, as a team leader.

Management aspirants who lack team skills cannot be good managers.

—   p pp

Reasoning ability plays an important role while expressing your opinions or ideas at a GD.

For example, an opinion like 'Reduction in IIMs' fees will affect quality' can be better stated by
demonstrating your reasoning ability and completing the missing links between fees and quality as:

'Reduction in IIMs' fees will result in less funds being invested on study material, student exchange
programmes, research, student development activities, etc.

'Moreover, it costs money to attract good faculty, create good infrastructure and upgrade technology.

'With reduction in fees, less money will be available to perform these ,activities which will lead to
deterioration in the quality of IIMs.'
å  p

There are three types of situations that can arise in a GD:

- A GD where participants are unable to establish a proper rapport and do not speak much.
- A GD where participants get emotionally charged and the GD gets chaotic.
- A GD where participants discuss the topic assertively by touching on all its nuances and try to reach the
objective.

Here, a leader would be someone who facilitates the third situation at a GD.

A leader would have the following qualities:

-S/he shows direction to the group whenever group moves away from the topic.
-S/he coordinates the effort of the different team members in the GD.
-S/he contributes to the GD at regular intervals with valuable insights.
-S/he also inspires and motivates team members to express their views.

h
p : Being a mere coordinator in a GD does not help, because it is a secondary role.

Contribute to the GD with your ideas and opinions, but also try and steer the conversation towards a
goal.

ü @ppp

You must be open to other ideas as well as to the evaluation of your ideas: That is what flexibility is all
about.

But first, remember: Never ever start your GD with a stand or a conclusion.

Say the topic of a GD is, 'Should India [ Images ] go to war with Pakistan?'

Some participants tend to get emotionally attached to the topic and take a stand either in favour or
against the topic, ie 'Yes, India should', or, 'No, India should not'.

By taking a stand, you have already given your decision without discussing the topic at hand or listening
to the views of your team members.

Also, if you encounter an opposition with a very strong point at the 11th hour, you end up in a typical
catch-22 situation:

-If you change your stand, you are seen as a fickle-minded or a whimsical person.
-If you do not change your stand, you are seen as an inflexible, stubborn and obstinate person.

!  p  

You must put forth your point to the group in a very emphatic, positive and confident manner.

Participants often confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness.


Aggressiveness is all about forcing your point on the other person, and can be a threat to the group. An
aggressive person can also demonstrate negative body language, whereas an assertive person displays
positive body language.

i j ppp 

A general trend amongst students is to start a GD and get the initial kitty of points earmarked for the
initiator.

But that is a high risk-high return strategy.

Initiate a GD only if you are well versed with the topic. If you start and fail to contribute at regular intervals,
it gives the impression that you started the GD just for the sake of the initial points.

Also, if you fumble, stammer or misquote facts, it may work against you.

Remember: You never ever get a second chance to create a first impression.

* hp p
 p p 

An idea or a perspective which opens new horizons for discussion on the GD topic is always highly
appreciated.

When you put across a new idea convincingly, such that it is discussed at length by the group, it can only
be positive.

You will find yourself in the good books of the examiner.

O j pp pp

A good group discussion should incorporate views of all the team members.

If some team members want to express their ideas but are not getting the opportunity to do so, giving
them an opportunity to express their ideas or opinions will be seen as a positive trait.

h
p : If a participant is not willing to speak, you need not necessarily go out of the way to ask him to
express his views. This may insult him and hamper the flow of the GD.

X p  p 

Always try and strike a proper balance between expressing your ideas and imbibing ideas.

R  

You must be well versed with both the micro and macro environment.

Your awareness about your environment helps a lot in your GD content, which carries maximum
weightage.

h
p : The content or awareness generally constitutes 40 to 50 percent marks of your GD.
Apart from these qualities, communication skills, confidence and the ability to think on one's feet are also
very important.

å
´ou have given the Common Entrance Test 2005.
The next step is the Group Discussion.

How aggressive can you get? What is the antidote for nervousness? How can you prepare for your GD?

To see the bigger picture, you first need to understand what a GD is all about, why institutes conduct it
and how it differs from a debate.

þp  
|p 
p 

As the term itself suggests, a GD is a discussion, but most students misconstrue it to be a debate.
They akin it to a wrestling match and try to score points over the other participants. Consequently, you
find a 'fish market' situation in most GDs. What is actually expected in a GD is participation in a
systematic way on a particular topic.

The prospect of a GD tends to leave most students petrified. You can get rid of that feeling of fear by
remembering you have experienced group discussions right from childhood. Remember those heated
discussions you had across the dinner table with family members, friends and relatives? Consciously or
unconsciously, they have helped you learn a thing or two about discussing in a group.

Your parents may have come across as the most heard and respected as they were much better well
informed. Besides, instead of forcing their point of view on you, they heard you out and presented
their points in a logical and methodical manner because they had the strength of content and courage of
conviction.

As a result, you would have often felt the desire to prove that you were right and they were wrong.
A bundle of angst would build within you.

Discard that feeling now. Remember, a GD is a discussion -- and not a debate -- between the members
of a group.

|p 
p  


Human beings love debates because we like to win and see others lose. A debate is a perfect situation
for expressing intense emotions. A GD, however, calls for a lot more maturity and logic.

The purpose of a GD, though conducted in a competitive mode, is not to establish you as a winner and
others as losers. Its purpose, as far as you are concerned, is to help you come across as a person with
sound, logical reasoning and the ability to respect another's viewpoint.

A critical difference between a GD and a debate is that, while a debate begins with two groups' bids to
outwit each other, a discussion is evolutionary; this essentially means participants have the opportunity to
refine their views in the course of the discussion. Thus, every member needs to contribute substantially
and add to the existing knowledge base instead of pulling each other down.
The difference, thus, lies not just in style, but also in the mindset that is required to tackle either
challenge.

þp p
  
 |

How often have you called a friend in office to be told that he is in a meeting? Institutes conduct a GD
because, as a manager, you will be required to attend and conduct innumerable meetings. A GD is a
simulation of what you can expect in a meeting at your workplace.

Depending on the kind of profile you have and the company you work for, you will be part of meetings
ranging from brand launches and employee performance appraisals to company financials, etc. For
instance, if you have a meeting where senior employees are working out a strategy to launch a new soap
in the market, this is what is expected of you before and during the meeting.

- You will go well prepared for the meeting; this means you need to have sufficient information on the
likely points of discussion.

- During the meeting, you will let everyone have his say. When your turn comes, you will present your
views forcefully and logically.

- Whenever you disagree with somebody, you will present your points logically and makes sure
everybody understands what you have to say.

- You will always attack points and not people.

- You will carefully listen to other people's points and try to refine your own by using other people's inputs
on the subject.

Project the same qualities during B-School admissions, where the purpose of the GD is to find out
whether you possess the critical qualities needed to become an effective manager. While the written
exam tests your comprehension and analytical skills, a GD tests you in the following:

 Body language
 Communication skills
 Self confidence
 Team skills
 Listening ability
 Ability to present your views logically
 Time management

A GD is a wonderful challenge because you have a maximum of 20 minutes to show if you have it in you
to become an effective manager.

[
  |

The CAT was only the first hurdle. The action now moves to another stage, another day.

- The most important thing from now on till the time of the 20-minute GD challenge is to build your
knowledge base. You must have done your daily dose of reading -- newspapers, magazines, etc -- even
as you were preparing for CAT. Continue with your reading; add to it if necessary. Analyse issues from
various angles.

- Maintain a positive attitude. Stay motivated and excited about the upcoming challenge.
The Group Discussion and Personal Interview stage is also the most decisive one; a bad performance
here can undo all the good work you put in CAT. So, continue to stay focused and competitive.

- One of the most critical challenges of coming across as a good participant in a discussion is to have the
ability to see things from the other person's viewpoint and respect it even if you strongly disagree.

p 

- As part of your preparation, you must participate in a few mock GDs. Run through these performances
later, identify your areas of strength and areas for improvement and work on them consciously.

- Success in a GD also depends on outgrowing old habits like indulging in small talk with a group of
friends. Whenever you have a gathering of sorts, try not to indulge in loose talk. Focus on discussing a
topic of current relevance. Thus, an informal gathering of friends can be converted into a GD practice
session.

- Whenever you come across fellow MBA aspirants, don't look upon them as competitors. Treat them as
contributors to your success. You can share each other's strengths and thus iron out your own
deficiencies. It makes a lot of sense for fellow MBA aspirants to get together and conduct mock GDs on
various topics. This run-up to the actual GD should be a symbiotic effort rather than a parasitic one.

After each discussion, you must, as a group, analyse one another individually and suggest areas for
improvement. This way, you will also get exposed to your fellow aspirants' perspectives and
broaden your thought process.

The skills you develop to ace your GD will prove to be an asset even after you begin your professional
career.

ü
A GD is a methodology used by an organization to gauge whether the candidate has certain
personality traits and/or skills that it desires in its members. In this methodology, the group of
candidates is given a topic or a situation, given a few minutes to think about the same, and then
asked to discuss the it among themselves for 15-20 minutes. Freshersworld.com brings you an
elaborate section for GD as you had ever seen anywhere else.

˜  
 
 
     

Ability to work in a team


Communication skills
Reasoning ability
Leadership skills
Initiative
Assertiveness
Flexibility
Creativity
Ability to think on ones feet
þ 

The reason why institutes put you through a Group discussion and an interview, after testing
your technical and conceptual skills in an exam, is to get to know you as a person and gauge how
well you will fit in their institute. The Group discussion tests how you function as a part of a
team. As a manager, you will always be working in teams, as a member or as a leader. Therefore
how you interact in a team becomes an important criterion for your selection. Managers have to
work in a team and get best results out of teamwork. That is the reason why management
institutes include GD as a component of the selection procedure.


  

Companies conduct group discussion after the written test so as to check on your interactive
skills and how good you are at communicating with other people. The GD is to check how you
behave, participate and contribute in a group, how much importance do you give to the group
objective as well as your own, how well do you listen to viewpoints of others and how open-
minded are you in accepting views contrary to your own. The aspects which make up a GD are
verbal communication, non-verbal behavior, conformation to norms, decision-making ability and
cooperation. You should try to be as true as possible to these aspects.