Writing 101

Group discussions are used by many multinational companies and educational institutes (especially for MBA admission) to assess the interpersonal skills and mental aptitude of a candidate. The ability to communicate your thoughts and opinions clearly and get your point across in a persuasive manner is one of the primary requirements of most MNCs, which need smart employees in client-facing roles for mostly U.S. or U.K-based processes. Thus, GDs are also used as a mass elimination process by companies that do bulk hiring. So, even if you are technically skilled than most people but become all bewildered and lost for words in a group discussion, then sadly, you won’t be even considered for the personal interview where you can actually flaunt your skills and degrees. However, if you follow some basic tips, you can end up with a much better experience than expected. Here are some important to be successful in a GD:

9. Enhance your knowledge of current affairs

This step is not a one-off thing but a continuous process that needs meticulous planning from the start, and which has to be implemented months before you actually appear for competitive exams or participate in a campus placement drive. You need to read widely on current affairs- both national and international– so that you are not left dumbstruck during the group discussion.

Remember, the topic can be any random one ranging from the growing epidemic of rape in India, debate around Section 377 of the Indian penal code to Middle East affairs or merits/demerits of Donald Trump as the U.S. President. Subscribe or buy good magazines like Pratiyogita Darpan, Frontline or The Economist to broaden your perspective of worldly affairs. This will immensely boost your confidence when the GD starts.

8. Do not dress casually

Dressing well and appropriately is extremely important, because if you appear in a GD dressed shabbily or in casual clothing, then it indicates you are not serious about the entire process. Remember, the evaluators might not give you points for being properly dressed but they will certainly deduct several if you look like something the cat dragged in.

7. Be the Initiator

Initiating a group discussion and even closing it gives the impression that you are a decisive person and have traits of a leader. But beware! Do not show any bravado if your knowledge of the GD topic is weak. In that case, it is better to listen to a few people, formulate your points, and then put your opinion across.

6. Be a good listener, do not dominate

If you speak well then it doesn’t mean you should just go on and on without allowing others to speak. Being a good listener reflects you are a team player and can give space to different opinions. Being dominant indicates you are headstrong and probably quite arrogant also.

5. Make eye contact with all participants

Many people make the mistake of only looking at the evaluators during the GD, mostly in the hope of garnering a favorable reaction from them. While it is okay to glance once or twice, you need to make eye contact and pay attention to all the participants. You are in a discussion with them, not the evaluators.

4. Do not go into specific details

For certain topics, you might have way more knowledge than other participants. But if you start quoting figures and statistics like “around 68.3% people in the state of Bihar live below poverty line”, then please stop! No one is going to verify these details. You will come across as a pompous show-off. Basic knowledge and smart points are enough so that a solid argument can be made.

3. Differ in a polite manner

Never ever be rude. If you have a different opinion to a point made by a participant, then raise your objection in a polite manner. Maintain a calm demeanor and say “I beg/respectfully to disagree with the argument put forth by this lady/gentleman/(name of the person if the names are known)”. The moment you adopt a bellicose stance, you will lose significant points.

2. Focus on body language and posture

Sit upright. Smile, don’t stare. Do not show any aggressive stance. Keep your hands on your thighs while sitting. Do not gesticulate too much. Your body language plays a crucial role in deciding your selection so pay utmost attention to this aspect. It is strongly recommended that you get feedback from an experienced person, preferably a public speaking coach for the same.

1. Work on your communication skills

Nothing needs to be said more. If your communication skills are poor then no matter how knowledgeable you are or well-dressed you are, you are bound to face rejection. Keep improving your communication skills by practicing with your friends and family. If you are not a smooth speaker, you won’t become a good one overnight. You can watch informative videos or read good articles to get more insight on improving your communication skills.

Writing 101
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