In a group discussion the most probable thing we assume is : “I just need to work on my English, I just need to have the knowledge of current affairs, and that’s how I’ll nail it.” But that’s not enough cause there are many other skills which are going to be checked by the moderator to check other interpersonal skills (listening, leadership, team spirit) of the participant in GD. Her are few of the tactics which will give you abundance of confidence to be successful in a group discussion.

First of all we need to understand what is a Group Discussion?

“Group” is a collection of individuals who have regular contact and frequent interaction and who work together to achieve a common set of goals. “Discussion” is the process whereby two or more people exchange information or ideas in a face-to-face situation to achieve a goal. The goal, or end product, maybe increased knowledge, agreement leading to action, disagreement leading to competition or resolution or perhaps only a clearing of the air or a continuation of the status-quo.

Group discussion takes place in most of the interviews in corporate sectors which is often termed as “the mass reduction or the mass rejection round”. If there are 30 people then 80% of them will be out in the group discussion round and there will be only 20% who will go forward for the interviews. You have to be extra careful and make your mark in the eyes of the moderator.

Here 7 ways for being successful in a group discussion:

1. The best way to start a Group Discussion:

Starting the group discussion is a high profit and high loss business, if you can start the group discussion in an impressive way then 90% of the work is already done. There are six different ways to start a GD:

Six ways to begin a group discussion

By beginning a Group Discussion, you not only get an opportunity to speak but also get to grab everybody’s attention. Beginning a GD gives you an edge over other candidates as you get maximum uninterrupted time to share your views and p skills to the examiner as other participants are still busy in understanding the topic. 

  • Communicate fluently – If you are starting the GD, make sure that you present your views fluently. Try not to stammer as being confident about your point-of-view is of utmost importance.
  • Relevant content – It should not seem that you are starting the GD just for the sake of beginning first. Your points should be relevant to the topic and must grab the attention of the participants.
  • Questions and quotes – You can also start the GD with a shocking statement, question, quotation, definition or facts. All these things can be used to present your take on the subject in order to lead the GD further.
  • Time efficient – If you are indeed planning on starting the GD, make sure that you do not overelaborate your points. Present your views in the most precise way possible as the evaluators are not looking for a story.

It is very important to understand that leading the GD is the best way to start as it gives you undivided attention of the participants as well as the GD regulator. Starting a GD also gives you uninterrupted time to put up your points while other participants are thinking. 

2. Remember the 4 B’s

a. Be yourself : During the group discussion try to be as natural as possible. If we are being ourselves and avoiding putting up an act then there is a greater chance of you being able to convey your views in a more natural way. The group discussion panel always tries to see : Whether you are able to put your views across in a logical manner? Are you understanding and open to others views & feelings about the same subject? Are you able to handle yourself with grace in such situations?

b. Be a good communicator:

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During a GD try to be calm, confident and have a clear tone. Depending on your subject keep your points precise and facilitate the contribution of others views as well. When you are sharing your point try to maintain an eye contact with all. Even when someone else is sharing their views try to nod as it shows that you are receptive

c. Be assertive:

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There will be times when your fellow mate will not be in agreement with your point of view, in such situations you need to be humble and not be aggressive. You can respectfully disagree and add to the points being put forth by the other participant. So all times be assertive but not aggressive.

d. Brownie points: To earn those brownie points try to initiate the GD if you are well versed with the topic as this leaves a good impression on the evaluator. If you are not aware of the topic then you can pick up some points in between the discussion and add upon it. Another way to earn the brownie points is to be an ‘Active listener‘. If you are not well versed with the topic then listening actively will definitely help you to pick up familiar points and build upon your views upon them.

3. Body language:

a) Smile – It bursts the stress and is a great starter!
When you present yourself to an interviewer or a fellow speaker, give him/her a pleasant smile. It is a sign of welcome & enthusiasm. It says, “I’m friendly and approachable.” Whenever you welcome someone in a conversation with a warm smile, half of your stress will fizz out and you will find yourself in a better state of mind to begin the discussion.

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b) Maintain sufficient personal space – everyone has got an aura!
Respecting the personal space of your fellow speakers benefits you in return by receiving respect from them. GD and PI being the formal discussions with strangers need you to maintain a decent distance so that you do not encroach upon their personal space, making them uncomfortable.

c) Convey Confidence: Look into eyes but don’t stare.
Looking into eyes while talking to the fellow speakers always benefits you by gaining their attention to your points. This makes easy for you to convey thoughts in limited words. However, you should not stare into the eyes of fellow speakers and make them uncomfortable. Do not show any sign of nervousness even if you are. A signal of nervousness or boredom may put you out of the conversation. 

d) Disagree politely: Be gentle when it comes to an argument.
Sometimes you may not agree with the fellow speaker’s point of view. You have to be careful at that time while expressing your opinion. You need to maintain the proper coordination of speech and body gestures while expressing your views. Avoid banging of hands on the table and pointing of fingers to make a point during the discussion/interview.

4. Be a Leader

The age-old adage believes that “True leaders are born, not made.” Not anymore! The times they are changing, and so, now leaders can be made too. Let’s now look at some qualities that make a person a leader to help you develop those very qualities. 

Trust us, to a trained & experienced professional, spotting a leader in each group during the group discussion round is as easy as choosing between coffee and tea. The panel will be able to assess who is the leader and if she/he is a good team player as well. A good leader is one who can get along with the team.

5. Have relevant points to discuss

  • When you speak you should speak to the point without any ambiguity of thought
  • Express your ideas at length. If you simply follow the other speaker or his ideas, remember your elimination is imminent
  • Wherever possible, emphasize your point with facts and figures

6. Background Preparation for a Group Discussion

The most vital component of one’s performance in the GD is the content. As current affairs tend to dominate the GDs, a conscious effort to build the fact-bank of current affairs is necessary. Review the timelines of important national and international affairs and the subsequent developments therein.

Follow at least 2 local, 2 national, and 2 international newspapers and news channels every day. Concentrate on information. In newspapers, it is found mostly in the first 4 pages, the finance page, and the sports pages. You may or may not the read the editorials (which offer opinion, comment and perspective), but you must read the news. Because you need facts to support your standpoints. 

For if you have no facts, you only have opinions, which you may end up merely repeating throughout your contribution in a GD.
Please remember that the GD is not an elimination process, but only one of the several selection processes with certain weightage that contributes to the final score.

7. Take care of your dressing as well.

Group Discussion and Personal Interview
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Don’t wear flashy clothes while going for a group discussion or interview. Female candidates should also avoid cakey makeup or flaunt heavy jewellery. The clattering sounds of bangles sometimes act as a disturbing element in formal discussions. Be in professional attire and avoid loud colours.

Start making preparations for group discussions and personal interview right away, without waiting till the eleventh hour. It is important to concentrate on subject knowledge and general awareness. Hence, the prime need for thorough preparation. Remember, the competition is very tough. Only few hundred candidates make it to the final list from lacs of aspirants each year.

All the best!!!