Prerequisites of a Group Discussion
Prerequisites of a Group Discussion
Once you are aware about the myths, the next important thing is the essential requirements for success in a group discussion. Listed below are some of the prerequisites that need to be inculcated:
1. Knowledge: This is the most important prerequisite. The group discussion assesses the personality traits of an individual, including the intellectual and dynamic qualities, the social attributes and the power to motivate and influence others into participation. A candidate needs in-depth knowledge about the topics in order to succeed on all these points. Here, the knowledge has to be extensive and one cannot limit oneself. For instance, a candidate cannot say that since he is from a science background, he cannot speak on say, the WTO.
No, you are supposed to be well read and versatile. Today, such people are more successful than those who have command over a particular subject only. If you lack knowledge, you cannot speak fluently no matter how gifted a speaker you are. You will beat about the bush and end up talking about irrelevant things. Talking illogically is worse than remaining silent, because you exhibit your ignorance, and in a group discussion, this is a negative trait. A candidate who knows numerous topics will speak with authority, confidence and interest and inspire others to speak well too. That is why you should be well read and well informed. If you go through the model group discussions, you will find that irrespective of the fact whether a candidate spoke in the beginning or the end, invariably the one with sound knowledge has always been selected.
2. Listening: Listening inculcates more knowledge than speaking. It is not always possible to know every subject, but if you keep your ears open, you will get some idea about the subject and be able to formulate some thoughts that can be verbally delivered. Even without proper knowledge, one can succeed in a group discussion, provided one has developed the art of skilful listening. Skilful or active listening calls for active participation. That means when a candidate is speaking, he should be encouraged, rather than stopped rudely.
One can improve listening skills through 'Convenient Listening'. For instance, when the government is criticized for any action, most people usually speak gibberish and castigate politicians rather than criticising policies. A skilful listener should disregard personal castigation and register the correct criticism, which will help him in the long run. While reading Model Group Discussions, the reader will realise that candidates who listened well and then spoke were also selected. This is because such candidates allowed the well-informed candidates to speak the most in order to gamer information about the topic.
3. Presentation: Being knowledgeable is most beneficial, but if your presentation is not good, there will be no positive impact of your knowledge. Always fine-tune whatever you have learnt and don't get complacent. Many times, despite a . complete command of the subject, a candidate fails to impress the coordinator, thanks to a poor presentation. A presentation should have a proper beginning and a logical conclusion. In trying to exhibit their knowledge, a candidate sometimes gets overenthusiastic and goes overboard, only to end up in a confused manner.
Model Group Discussions' give an idea on how to begin a topic and conclude logically or, in some cases, in an interactive manner such as with a question. In this way, the candidate motivates others to participate. A word of caution - the presentation should be informal, which makes the other candidates listen to you. A formal presentation would seem like a lecture rather than a group discussion. Finally, a good presentation can also make up for the partial lack of knowledge.
4. Initiation: While perusing Model Group Discussions, the reader will notice that speakers who initiate discussions are usually selected. But this is due to their knowledge and command over the topic. Do not be under the illusion that if you initiate the discussion, you automatically stand selected or it reflects your leadership qualities. Only initiate a discussion if you are quite acquainted with the topic. Else, listen well and then speak at No.3 or 4.
Once the candidate initiates, s/he should "define" the topic before voicing an opinion. For instance, in Model Group Discussions, there is a topic Surrogate Advertising. It is important to define the subject before you state your opinion. In fact, an initiator's task is comparatively easy - in simply explaining the topic, he can consume the usual time limit of one and a half minutes. Initiating also gives one more leeway, but you can only capitalize on this if you have sufficient knowledge about the topic chosen.
5. Body Language: This plays a vital role in selection as it transmits signals about your frame of mind. Facial expressions and body gestures communicate more than spoken words. Expressions, eye contact, sitting posture and the tone of voice indicate the amount of interest a person has and also his feelings. In a group discussion, the coordinator is watching you and your body language conveys your feelings. It is very important to maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking. A smile while airing your views - even if you are against the topic - helps in creating a friendly ambience and inducing the other participants to agree with your views without hostility.
And while speaking, the tone of voice should match the intensity with which you are speaking to have a positive impact on listeners. Failure to control your pitch as per the required intensity will make your presentation fall flat, negating your efforts. Here, selection of the right words plays a pivotal role in keeping you ahead of competitors. During the presentation, keep moving your eyes over all the participants, thereby making the discussion seem more interactive.
6. Communication Skills: Communication is a two-way process. When the message sent by a sender is received and understood by the receiver and the receiver then sends a message to the sender, communication is complete. Communication skills mean effectively communicating your thoughts to listeners. Besides, there are other elements in effective communication such as:
a) Being meaningful while communicating, taking care of the overtones as well as the basic contents of the message.
b) To take the opportunity, as and when it arises, in conveying something of interest and value to the receiver.
c) To seek not only to be understood but, more importantly, also understand what the other participants are saying. That is, being a good listener.
In a group discussion, effective communication implies timely interaction as well as the manner of interaction. So communicative skills are related to participative skills, which includes persuasion and motivation. It also involves keeping an open mind, conceding another's viewpoint and then suggesting some common ground. As the reader goes through the book, he will learn how to counter arguments without antagonizing other participants. This, in a nutshell, is the art of communication.
7. Cooperation: A cooperative attitude helps a candidate avoid unhealthy conflict. However, if healthy, conflict should not be avoided. It helps look at a problem from different angles and come up with alternatives. You have the right to disagree and state your reasons for this, but you should not be disagreeable. Good support ensures a good relationship with others and eventually brings success. Rapport building starts from the very first step of paying compliments, exchanging pleasantries and sharing experiences with others.
If you respect the other's viewpoint and the energy and effort put into expressing his ideas, you are bound to win their confidence, regards and reciprocation. Being helpful, accommodative and encouraging will make you popular in the group. Remember, good manners can sometimes open doors that the best education cannot.