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10 Tips to ace a Group Discussion

Sitting at our home, having nothing to do, we can begin our preparations for round two, which is Group Discussion round.

An average GD usually features 10 to 15 participants. The GD process begins with the announcement of the topic to the group, which is (usually) followed by a preparation time of 3 to 5 minutes. The average duration of most GDs is 15 minutes (not including the prep time).
This is a tricky selection round and in this article, I am sharing you 10 tips, following which you will be able to ace the round at ease.

1. Train yourself to be a good listener.
Develop the patience to listen attentively. Without listening attentively, you can never keep an account of the points that have been discussed. You will also miss the opportunity to counter a point or place your thoughts regarding that point. In short, without listening to intently, you will never be able to ideally participate and deliver your best. There are many ways a panel may infer that a participant is a poor listener, such as a lack of eye contact with the group, or a poor summary at the end. It is one of the rarest skills, and a must for a would-be manager.

2. Acknowledge that everyone has something valuable to say.
Never interrupt when someone is placing their views. Wait for him to finish. In some cases, it may arise that the speaker is constantly stammering or taking pauses in between. Do seize the moment and place your opinion. In cases, if you find an introvert person, not getting a chance to speak, try to make a chance for the person. Being a better man in this picture will highlight your leadership qualities in front of the moderator. However, it may happen that the person turns out better than you. Hence judge the scenario carefully before making a choice. In highly-charged discussions, one or two participants usually play the role of the anchor, in that they define the topic appropriately, offer the initial analysis of the keywords of the topic, and also try to hold the group together in pursuit of a common goal. Such individuals could demonstrate effective leadership, and score some extra points

3. Speak clearly
When speaking in a GD, your job is to articulate your point of view in a way that is easy for others to comprehend. Using fancy words will not help you. Always remember that you need to prove that you are a good team player. The panel looks at how you support your standpoints, and how you respond to those of the others, how effectively you can ‘strengthen or weaken’ an argument, how logical you are in your overall approach to the topic. And always bring to the table a novel perspective on the topic. If you can look at a problem differently from ten other participants and suggest a path-breaking solution, interpret an abstract topic in ways the others cannot, the panel will look at you as someone with one of the rarest of human qualities.

4. Present your thoughts sequentially
You may have the facts, the supports, the explanations, but are you able to present them in the right order so as to maximise the impact of your good content. Inculcate the habit of structuring your thoughts and presenting them logically. A proper presentation will reflect your confidence as well as your knowledge and presentation capability.

5. Practice writing
Writing essays on a variety of topics is good practice for developing thought structure. Moreover, it increases vocabulary, fluency, and thought processing capability.

6. Read and Read
The only way to prepare is to read more. 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.

7. Keep an account of time
Structure your thoughts in such a way that they don’t take up much time. Keep an account of time. When only a few minutes are left, rise to the occasion, take a stand and briefly summarize ALL the points discussed and conclude the GD. This allows you to leave a lasting impression on the moderato’s mind. It will also portray you as a punctual person, who knows the value of time.

8. Learn to respect others for what they are.
Don’t disrespect others even if you don’t agree to their viewpoint or have grown a disliking towards them due to any reason, no matter how big or small that might be. Moreover, it may be possible that you have a stark opposite personality of a participant. Still, never show disrespect. Always remember this is a two-way process.

9. Learn to be open-minded
Recognize the fact that people think differently about issues and it's completely okay to disagree. But never be too loud or never act roughly. Group behaviour is usually assessed in a broad distinction – assertive or aggressive. Avoid the latter no matter what. Assertiveness is a rational display of conviction of one’s thoughts, while aggressiveness is a display of domination through subtle intimidation. Assertiveness allows room for flexibility – which is a desired trait – while aggressiveness leads to irrational rigidity of viewpoint.

10. Train your mind to think analytically.
Last, but most importantly, think analytically. Always. The panel is of course interested in your facts, but they also like to see whether or not you can explore the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the subject matter.

Always remember that, unlike the interview, GD is not an elimination process, but only one of the several selection processes with a certain weightage that contributes to the final score. Keep these things in your mind. Work hard and you will definitely succeed. Best wishes to all of you.

If you find the article helpful, do like, and spread the word. Please comment your feedback and let me know how your GD went. I will be waiting!

- Shankhanila Palchowdhury

A graduate student in Journalism and Communications, I am an avid reader, writer, blogger, foodie and movie buff. Based in Kolkata, I am extremely passionate about trekking, travelling, exploring and building new relations every day.


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