How to perform well and win a group discussion (GD)?

Nowadays, Group Discussions are very important. This article tells what is a GD, why do we conduct GDs, the different types of group discussions, the topics that are likely to be asked in a GD etc. It tells how to participate effectively in a group discussion and perform well.

What is a GD – Definition of group discussion

A group discussion occurs when many people sit together and talk on a common issue for which they are seeking a conclusion. Nowadays there are online group discussions as well. They do not demand that the members should be present at one place together. Group discussions may take place between students, employees, potential employees etc. They are formal talks and discussions. They take place on a pre-arranged topic. Nowadays, most jobs select people after conducting a written test, a personal interview and a group discussion (GD). In the present scenario of increasing competition, everyone should know how to take part in a GD and perform well in a GD.

The need for group discussions

Students may conduct GDs to acquire knowledge about a specific topic. For example, if the students are conduction a GD on globalisation, their purpose is to understand more about the topic. But the employees conduct GDs to arrive at a solution to some particular problem, to create new ideas, to examine new possibilities, to exchange opinions and ideas etc.

In both case, a GD helps us to understand and analyse a situation, gather various opinions on the situation and reach a conclusion that is acceptable to most members.

Types of Group Discussions

Conventionally, the communication experts have classified GDs to two types:
  • Topic-based GD

  • Case-based GD

  • Topic-based Group Discussion

    As the name suggests, a topic based group discussion is based on a specific topic. For example: Educational reforms in India. Possible topics in GD include three types of topics: fact-based topic, debatable topic and intangible topic.

    The example mentioned above – Educational reforms – is a fact-based topic. You can present a lot of facts as your argument. How many educational reforms were conducted in India till now, how much of them were executed etc are facts that can be presented. They are often quantifiable as well. A fact based topic's purpose is to understand your knowledge in the topic.

    A debatable topic is a topic that has two sides. They are also called controversial topics. For example, should there be cast-based census in India? Some may agree with the view, some may disagree. Thus there are two sides and there is the scope of a debate. To be successful in such a GD, first of all you need to have a viewpoint. You must uphold the viewpoint firmly and support it with many arguments.

    An intangible/abstract topic does not have much debate-scope in it. For example – the end of universe. People may have opinions, but there are no credible arguments to make. Such topics are usually rare. But if you are so 'lucky', you may get one.

    In a case based GD, a particular case is given and the members have to find a solution. For example, if the monthly sales of a company is given and the group is asked to derive means for increasing the profit, it is a case-based discussion. Such topics need quick analysation and problem-solving skills.

    How to participate effectively in a GD?

    To participate effectively and perform well in a GD, we need four kinds of skills.

    Be a good communicator

    Communication skills are very important in GD. In a real-life GD, vocal communication counts whereas an online GD takes writing skills into account. One must be able to think properly, express ideas effectively, speak clearly and one must present various viewpoints on the same topic.

    Intrapersonal Skills

    This is another necessity. Intrapersonal skills mean your skill to converse with others and maintain the interaction in a pleasant way.

  • You may adhere to what is being discussed and do not deviate.

  • You may accept opposite arguments.

  • You may disagree with others pleasantly and subtly.

  • You may appreciate good points from others even though you personally disapprove of the person.

  • You may recognise everyone equally.

  • Leadership Quality

    Leadership quality counts in a GD. You may be able to lead the group and direct them in the right way. You may begin the discussion. You may ask silent members to contribute. You may help the group to reach a solution and finally you may conclude the topic. But being a leader does not mean that you can dominate the discussion. Dominating a GD is considered as a negative quality.

    Problem solving ability

    This is the greatest skill you need to have in a GD, especially in a official one. You may try to bring new ideas, remove complexities and reach at a solution to the problem at hand. For this, you have to analyse the different aspects of a problem. We have to find out where the flaw is. We have to rectify the flaw in a manner that everyone agrees.

    How should one perform in a GD?

    A GD member must contribute to the following:
  • In starting the discussion.

  • In inviting ideas from others, especially silent members.

  • In interacting with others.

  • In explaining the points made by others.

  • In asking clarification from others.

  • In finding connections between what different people are saying.

  • In summarising the topic.

  • In mediating between arguments.

  • General tips for Group Discussions

  • Don't engage in individual discussions while the group is focusing on the topic.

  • Don't use harsh language.

  • Don't dominate the discussion.

  • Don't interrupt others. Wait for your chance to present your topic.

  • Disagree politely and subtly.

  • Agree and compliment with positive points.

  • Don't be prejudiced about others.

  • Develop a positive attitude in a GD.

  • Think out of the box!

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