A group discussion consists of :
  1. Communication Skills
  2. Knowledge and ideas regarding a given subject
  3. Capability to co-ordinate and lead
  4. Exchange of thoughts
  5. Addressing the group as a whole
  6. Thorough preparations

Communication Skills
The first aspect is one's power of expression. In a group discussion, a candidate has to talk effectively so that he is able to convince others. For convincing, one has to speak forcefully and at the same time create an impact by his knowledge on the subject. A candidate who is successful in holding the attention of the audience creates a positive impact.

It is necessary that you should be precise and clear. As a rule evaluators do not look for the wordage produced. Your knowledge on a given subject, your precision and clarity of thought are the things that are evaluated. Irrelevant talks lead you nowhere. You should speak as much as necessary, neither more nor less. Group discussions are not debating stages.

Ability to listen are also what evaluators judge. They look for your ability to react on what other participants say. Hence, it is necessary that you listen carefully to others and then react or proceed to add some more points. Your behaviour in the group is also put to test. Whether you a loner or can work in a group.

You should be able to convey your thoughts satisfactorily and convincingly before a group of people. Confidence and level headedness  in doing so is necessary. These add value to your presentation. In case you are not good at it, you might gain by joining an institute that offers specialized courses in public speaking. For instance, British Council Division's English Language Teaching Centre offers a wide range of courses like conversation skills, business communication skills, business writing, negotiation skills and presentation skills. Mostly people attend these courses to improve their communication skills. Students here are involved in activities which use communication skills and teachers provide inputs, monitor and facilitate the classes. The course at the Centre makes you confident enough to speak before people without any nervousness.

Knowledge and Ideas Regarding a Given Subject
Knowledge of the subject under discussion and clarity of ideas are important. Knowledge comes from consistent reading  on various topics  ranging from science and technology to politics. In-depth knowledge makes one confident and enthusiastic and this in turn, makes one sound  convincing and confident.

Leadership and Coordinating Capabilities
The basic aim of a group discussion is to judge a candidate's leadership qualities. the examiner withdraws and becomes a silent spectator once the discussion starts. A candidate should display tactfulness, skill, understanding and knowledge on varied topics, enterprise, forcefulness and other leadership qualities to motivate and influence other candidates who may be almost equally competent.

Exchange of Thoughts
A group discussion is an exchange of thoughts and ideas among members of a group. These discussions are held for selecting personnel in organisations where there is a high level of competition. The number of participants in a group can vary between eight and 15. Mostly a topic or a situation is given to group members who have to discuss it between 10 and 20 minutes.

The purpose is to get an idea about candidates in a short time and make assessments about their skills, which normally cannot be evaluated in an interview. These skills may be team membership, leadership skills, listening and articulation skills.

 A note is made of your contributions to the discussion, comprehension of the main idea, the rapport you strike, patience, assertion, accommodation, amenability, etc. Body language and eye contact too are important points which are to be considered. .

Addressing the Group as a Whole
While in the group discussion it is not necessary to address anyone by name. Even otherwise you may not know everyone's names. It better to address the group as a whole.

Address the person farthest from you. If he can hear you everyone else too can. Needless to add, as for interview, attend the group discussion in formal dress. The language used should also be formal, not the language used in normal conversations. For instance, words and phrases like "yar", "chalta hai", "CP", "I dunno", etc. are out . This is not to say you should use a high sounding , pedantic language. Avoiding both , Just use formal, plain and simple language. Hinglish, (mixture of Hindi and English) should be discarded.

Confidence and coolness while presenting your viewpoint are of help. See that you do not keep repeating a point. Do not use more words than necessary. Do not be superfluous. Try to be specific. Do not exaggerate.

Thorough Preparation
Start making preparations for interview and group discussions right away, without waiting till the eleventh hour, this is, if and when called for them. Then the time left may not be adequate. 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 460 candidates make it to the final list from 2.75 lakh civil service aspirants each year.

It may so happen that you are called for interviews and group discussions from three or four organizations but are not selected by any. The reason  obviously lies  in your not being well-prepared. 

In a group discussion you may be given a topic and asked to express your views on it. Or in a case study GD, students have to read a case study and suggest ways of tackling the problem. For this you should have a good general knowledge, need to be abreast with current affairs, should regularly read newspapers and magazines. Your group behaviour and communication skills are on test,i.e. how you convince the others and how clearly you are able to express your points of view? You should be articulate, generate ideas,  not sound  boring, should allow others to speak adopt a stand on a given subject. During the course of the GD this stand can even be changed, giving the impression that you are open to accommodate others' viewpoints.

Additional marks may be given for starting or concluding the discussion.

Points to Remember

1.Knowledge is strength. A candidate with good reading habits has more chances of success. In other words, sound knowledge on different topics like politics, finance, economy, science and technology is helpful.

2.Power to convince effectively is another quality that makes you stand out among  others.

3.Clarity in speech and expression is yet another essential quality.

4.If you are not sure about the topic of discussion, it is better not to initiate, Lack of  knowledge or wrong approach creates a bad impression. Instead, you might adopt the wait and watch attitude. Listen attentively to others, may be you would be able to come up with a point or two later.

5.A GD is a formal occasion where slangs are to avoided.

6.A GD is not a debating stage. Participants should confine themselves to expressing their viewpoints. In the second  part of the discussion candidates can exercise their choice in agreeing, disagreeing or remaining neutral.

7.Language use should be simple, direct and straight forward.

8.Don't interrupt a speaker when the session is one. Try to score by increasing your size, not by cutting others short.

9.Maintain rapport with fellow participants. Eye contact plays a major role. Non-verbal gestures, such as listening intently or nodding while appreciating someone's viewpoint speak of you positively.

10.Communicate with each and every candidate present. While speaking don't keep looking at a single member. Address the entire group in such a way that everyone feels you are speaking to him or her.

Group Discussion for MBA Entrance
With the ever increasing number of aspirants at MBA entrance examination as well as other competitive examinations, it is both useful and necessary to focus our attention on the most important and widely use screening device called-Group Discussions. Having observed thousands of candidates trying to do their best in the group discussion and dozens of experts on the selection panel who find the task of rejection rather difficult, Dr. Anjali Ghanekar feels there is a  need to enhance the quality of the screening process.

While selecting the future executives, it would be worth while to look for the following specific skills in the candidate, personal skills, group skills and leadership skills.

Personal Skills
"In this category, the panel members look for initiative displayed by the candidate, his extent of self-confidence, his depth of knowledge, group and level of understanding of the subject.  Another important criterion would be the candidate's consistency in thinking and presentation of facts. The candidate must have his facts right. It is very important to see whether the candidate reiterates erroneous  facts, whether he bombards others with data and confuses  the issues at hand, whether he shows shallow understanding and superficial knowledge, etc. Such negative features if observed carefully, may make the task or rejection easier.

While selecting the right candidate, the ability in coherent organization and logical development of thought is looked for. Equally important would be his personal skill of logical and rational reasoning. Again, it would be useful to see  whether he is relaxed, pleasant, courteous and co-operative (not cold and aloof.) Moreover, it is extremely important to look for the vital skill of assertiveness (not aggressiveness) in the right candidates.

Group Skills
"In this category, the panel members look for the candidate's extent of value addition to the group, his ability to communicate ideas fluently and efficiently, his ability to listen attentively as well as his willingness to listen to logic and reason, besides his ability for sustained interest. Again the panel members focus their attention on the candidate's ability to enhance the quality of discussion; especially, his ability to contribute original points (not repeating the same points). Another major group skill would be the candidate's ability to discuss different dimensions. His ability to steer the group into discussing other angles is also looked for. Furthermore, it is observed whether the candidate has the ability to make consistent efforts to relate with others in the group. . Last, but not the least  is the candidate's ability to build on valid points.

Leadership Skill
"In this category, the candidate's ability to influence and persuade others, his ability to encourage and also to compromise is looked for. Observe his ability to co-ordinate and summarize. Another important aspect would be his ability to build up the confidence of the group. It would be useful to look for his ability to encourage silent members into discussion.

Guidelines for the Candidates
"First and foremost, besides communicating ideas fluently and effectively, the candidate must be able to listen attentively. It is also important to encourage participating from all members.

·Remember to keep the discussion on the subject, or to bring it back to the subject.

·Do not take the discussion on a tangent by adding irrelevant points.

·Do not harp on small points thereby obscuring the critical issues. In this connection, you will have to deal tactfully with irrelevant contributions.

·Similarly, you must remember to control the over-talkative member. Do not allow one or two members to monopolize the discussion.

·It would be useful to develop your ability to make original points that steer the group into discussing other angles to the topic

·You must focus your efforts on consistently making points that will enhance the quality of the discussion.

·Avoid personal arguments.

·Similarly, avoid sub-grouping tendencies. Candidates lacking self-confidence, tend to converse with other members instead of addressing the group directly. It would be useful to draw out group 'members views and experiences which may be relevant and helpful. Hence, get each member to voice a range of opinions all different from your own. Help to activate the thinking process in the group. Also remember to check on the groups assimilation of the subject matter. 

·For effective leadership in group discussions conclude each argument at the right time and in the right manner. You should be able to review the highlights of the discussions that the group arrives at during the discussion.

A group discussion can be a very powerful screening device to judge the right candidates. The steps proposed above can go a long way in enhancing the quality and effectiveness of this technique if followed in the right spirit.

Some Topics of Group Discussion

·Euthanasia should be legalized.

·The role of print media  advertising has diminished with the advent of TV

·The opportunities and challenges facing India in a unipolar world.

·India needs a benevolent dictator for the next five years.

·There should be compulsory sterilization after the first child.

·Film Censorship should be abolished.

·Voting age for Indians should not be lowered to 18 years.

·Students must take active interest in politics.

·In order to check AIDS sex with foreigners and NRIs should be banned.

·Prohibition should be enforced throughout the country

·Capital punishment should be abolished.

·Art cinema is India lacks entertainment value.

·Cricket is a waste of national resource.

·Yesterday’s man was a finance man, today's is a marketing man, and tomorrow’s will be an HRD man.

·Communism is irrelevant in today’s world.

·Use of drugs in sports is justified.

·India cannot afford a sporting extravaganza like Olympics.

·In order to check brain drain, IIT graduates should be made to sign a bond to serve for five years in the country.

·Religion based political parties should be banned.

·A reservation for SC/STs is necessary for their upliftment.

·Our education system has proved ineffective.

·India should follow a two-party system like the U.S.

·The world is a safer place today as compared to two years ago.

·The Indian Army should reoccupy POK.

·With the lowest industry growth rate since Independence, India’s liberalization policy has been proved ineffective.

·One man’s terrorist is another’s martyr.

·What India needs most is a presidential form of government?

·Corruption is a necessary evil for success is any sphere.

·Modern English education has alienated the Indian youth from the mainstream of the country’s life.

·Work experience must be a pre-requisite for management education.

·Modern management education is a perfect example of old wine in new bottles.

·Public sector in India is a while elephant.

·Unity in India is a myth.

·Communism is for the poor, capitalism is for the rich.

·There is life after death.

·Use of guinea pigs for medical research must be banned.

·Politics is the last refuge of the uneducated scoundrel.

·The Islamic bomb will lead to world peace.

·Advertising is a wasteful expenditure.

·Exploitation of the female anatomy should be banned in advertising.

·Love marriage is the best form of marriage.

·There must be some controls for the Indian press today.

·Doordarshan must be made autonomous.

·There should be compulsory army enlisting for every male citizen of the country.

·Capitalism and communism are in the process of merging together to form a new politico economic order.

·Sex education should be made compulsory from high school onwards.

·Ragging is a necessary evil.

·The biggest problem-confronting mankind today is….

·Destruction of this planet earlier than expected would be due to a faulty basic premise in economics, called “growth”.

·Professional sportsmen/athletics should be allowed to participate in the Olympics.

·Burgeoning growth of metros like Bombay can be stopped only by removing the slums.

·Value based politics has no place in Indian politics.

·Drug peddlers should be sentenced to death.

·Doordarshan and Air should be privatized.

·Indian capital markets have come a long way.

·Yesterday’s was a joint family, today’s a nuclear family, and tomorrows will be a ‘no family’.

·Religion is the root cause of all evils in India.

·Indian film industry is on its deathbed.

·Screening of cigarette and liquor ads should be allowed on TV.

·Income tax should be banned to avoid tax evasion.

·India should align with the U.S. to accelerate industrial growth.

·Democracy in India is nothing but civilized monarchy.

·Increasing automation is the only key to industrial growth in India.

·Only God can save India.

·Cow slaughter must be banned in India.

·Sale of gold to the public must be stopped to prevent wastage of national resources.

·Women Reservation.

·Conversion: Necessary Evil.

·How to check Hijacking.

·Future of Coalition Governments.

·Match fixing: We are responsible.

·Which is best branch of Mgmt.?

·Legalize Corruption.