From college admissions to C-suite job interviews, there is no escaping the group discussion (GD) round. It will accompany you at every stage of your career path as it remains one of the most efficient methods to tick boxes, such as confidence, teamwork abilities, leadership, empathy, and analytical skills, among others. So if you freeze at the thought of voicing your opinions out loud—especially in front of a group of unknown faces – check out these tips and tested methods to navigate a group discussion successfully.
Tips to be Successful in a Group Discussion
Practice Before the Discussion
Possessing quality knowledge in your domain and the ability to articulate that expertise are both equally important aspects of acing a group discussion. Delivering pre-learned knowledge demands a lot of practice in terms of speech presentation, using the right keywords, and being humble while countering conflicting perspectives.
Work on Your Speaking and Reasoning Skills
It is also important to deliver knowledge with calm and composure. Recruiters are always on the lookout for candidates who can put their points across without getting aggressive. Try speaking this way if you disagree with someone:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t completely agree with you on this point.”
Or you could treat the opposing perspective as a different set of arguments:
“I respect your opinion on this, but here’s another viewpoint that I’d like to share.”
Controlling emotions while engaging in persuasion will only underscore your confidence and impress recruiters.
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Awareness of Topics
Core subject knowledge is important. But often, the topics in a group discussion steer you away from your field of expertise to bring their applications into the foreground. So, let’s say, in a Machine Learning (ML) discussion, the topic could be the economic and sociological impact of self-driving cars. This would entail an understanding of self-driving cars in different contexts, such as ecology, politics, and culture, and linking it with technical knowledge about the subject.
Lead the Discussion
When leading a discussion, delivering value with every sentence is of utmost importance. Remember, you are steering the group discussion in a definite direction. So either make sure you have enough material to talk about, or simply pass on the baton with a defining data point that bolsters your argument’s overall strength Also, you shouldn’t lead a discussion if you feel unsure how to phrase your thoughts; instead, allow others to take charge.
Be a Good Listener
Active listening shows respect for opposing viewpoints and their owners. This is a crucial test for candidates because, in business environments, handling difficult conversations is a fundamental part of your business acumen. Moreover, listening carefully is a fundamental characteristic of a good speaker.
Work on Body Language
Body language is an umbrella term used for everything non-verbal, of which eye contact, as discussed below, is crucial. Quick tutorials on streaming websites talk about body language—for instance, how you dress for the group discussion, your choice of words while introducing yourself, your instantaneous reactions to opposing arguments, and how much you allow others to speak. Recruiters assess each of these aspects as the rounds progress.
Maintain Eye Contact
This is a body language essential that indicates confidence and integrity in the speaker, apart from encouraging quality conversations. Always follow the 50/70 rule, which says you should make eye contact at least 50% of the time you are speaking to someone.
Deviating From the Topic
Here’s a quick tip: if someone deviates from the topic, use that chance to interrupt them politely and bring the discussion back on track. To prevent yourself from doing the same, prepare some anchoring points, based on the subject(s) you are interviewed for, to fall back on in case of a slip-off.
Support Your Point with an Example
The best speakers are the ones who are good with examples. Generic statements often confuse the audience by stunting the argument. For instance, there is a qualitative difference between “machine learning bias is an inherent problem of data science” and “the failure of COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions) proves the formidable challenges of machine learning in data collection bias”.
Take the Lead in Summarizing the Discussion
Summary makers tend to impress recruiters as they provide the essential quality of wrapping up scattered discussions and taking the lead in closing their argument smoothly—a crucial quality in business administration. But be careful to correctly recall every other argument discussed on the subject so that your summary sounds impartial.
What are the Four Effective Group Discussion Techniques?
These discussions focus on presenting a variety of facts against each other. Recruiters check a candidate’s skill in supporting their arguments with hard facts instead of using emotions as a means of persuasion.
Example of GD topic: The impact of national education policy: A boon or a curse?
Candidates argue about a real-life scenario in this type of group discussion. These GDs act as litmus tests for participants’ practical and critical thinking abilities.
Example of GD topic: Elon Musk’s Twitter buy is a disaster
This is the most common type of group discussion that allows candidates to share their thoughts, opinions, and subjective viewpoints on a topic, apart from facts.
Example of GD topic: Is polygamy really illegal in our society?
One of the most effective ways to judge a group’s imagination is to bring an abstract discussion to the table. In this environment, candidates are forced to approach the subject with originality.
Example of GD topic: Humans will stop promoting violence by 2050
What are Group Discussion Skills?
Some of the most relevant skills required to impress in a group discussion are as follows:
- Strong interpersonal communication skills
- Leadership to boost confidence in others
- Time management
- Speech management
How to Introduce Yourself in a Group Discussion
If you are opening the group discussion, follow these three tips while introducing yourself:
- Be confident about yourself and the subjects you want to broach
- Start the introduction with something exciting
- Keep track of your time while introducing yourself
Here’s an example on how to get started:
My name is ______, and I would like to speak for the subject that this world favors men more than any other gender. But I’d also love to introduce myself in this context as I have a history of gender activism and have witnessed first-hand the gruesome statistics involved in familial violence….[then proceed to state your points]
What Should You Avoid in a Group Discussion?
Here are five strict no-nos in a group discussion:
- Allowing emotions to get in the way of your argument
- Overburdening your arguments with information
- Focusing on how long you speak than what you say
- Not paying attention to your body language
- Suppressing voices and not encouraging others to speak
To conclude, practice speaking in front of the mirror and also set up mock group discussion rounds with your friends to hone your communication skills. And while you are at it, strengthen your knowledge base with the variety of industry-level courses offered by Emeritus, in association with globally renowned universities.
Written by Bishwadeep Mitra
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