Group Discussions are an excellent way to showcase your knowledge in current trends and matters of the globe, how aware you are about things happening around you, and most of all to test your communication and presentation skills. It goes without saying that you need to be well prepared, with a good grasp on a wide array of topics, in order to take down the opponents one by one, topic by topic, logically. Group Discussion, whether it is for an interview for the B-school you desperately want to get in, or an MNC that you wish to be a part of, gives you an impeccable opportunity to impress the mentors/ superiors by verbally sweeping them of their feet. Let’s go over the 5 ways to nail a GD:
1. It’s not just about you:
What you can bring to the table if you are hired or given admission to, is important, yes, but what is more important is that people are here to see how well can you handle working in a group, especially when it is a group of people you’ve never met before. In a global market where communication is an essential aspect, the organization wants to see if you can communicate well with your peers, which will include clients, coworkers, or classmates who come from different backgrounds, lifestyle, opinion-set, beliefs, religion and countries. These people will disagree with you openly, pay no heed to your suggestions, hog limelight for a project that was largely your doing, and more.
Hence, you don’t need to be the loudest and most aggressive of the lot to put your confidence on display. You don’t need to be the one who takes the stage for the longest duration to emphasize on how much you know about a topic. You can just as easily be the one who sits back composed, listens to other members contribute, and then forms a counter-argument based on what everyone is saying along with his opinion for rebuttal.
2. You don’t want to be remembered as ‘the one who spoke the most’:
What most people forget is in the end, this is not an elocution. This is a discussion, which you don’t have to run single-handedly. Organizations are more interested in taking a liking to people who know how to communicate effectively, rather than people who go on speaking without a point, and beating around the bush, just to leave an impression. These three thumb rules are a short and simple way to show how to get your point across in a better way:.
Rule 1: Solid opening statement
You don’t have to have a speech prepared. A small, thought-provoking statement that is likely to spark a further discussion will do the job well.
Rule 2: Lead to something
Don’t leave people hanging after your kick-ass introduction. You opening statement should flow into a strong relevant point that you want to make, without which your contribution amounts to nothing.
Rule 3: Closing statement.
Again, no essays, please. If you’re mid-discussion, ask a question when you end, that will keep a conversation going. If, that is not what you want to go with, summarize everything you said in a single sentence just to make your stance known. Like a TL;DR(Too Long; Didn’t Read), your closing statement should be your TL;DL(Too Long; Didn’t Listen). If you are bring the discussion to an end, then just conclude by recounting everyone’s opinion, your opinion, and the middle ground to both, in as less words as possible.
3. You will be provoked:
There will always be one person who will make a sexist statement, or express an inappropriate opinion on Syria Civil War, and sometimes that person might just be the judge of the GD. This is where you don’t sway.
Let’s face it. B-Schools are hard, and top-notch organizations require giving more than just your best shot. Being better with words isn’t just enough in such a case. Of course, you’d be required to to have your facts and knowledge in place, but the whole point of GDs are to see if the candidates are well suited to make it to an esteemed college, or company and handle the pressure of it thereafter.
You’re being constantly evaluated on how you react to situations and people in those few minutes, so if there is this one intimidating girl in the room who wouldn’t shut up and cuts people halfway through their statements; trust me, she isn’t helping herself. Very often, the whole group starts shouting and attacking individuals on a more personal level and there are times when the group hits a crescendo and then there is a sudden lull. For them group discussions are vital; since they believe that such a scenario is where the real you comes out, and how your being upset and angry changes your behavior and affects your judgement, based on which they evaluate if you make a perfect fit for their work-environment and mindset.
So, how to crack this? This brings us to our next point.
4. Be yourself:
How cliche, right? You must always remember why you applied to a certain institute or organization – more often than not, it is because you felt that it would contribute to your career-growth by providing you with relevant opportunities or because the work culture there is something that fits your needs. Forgoing your beliefs, just to make an impression, or to be in the spotlight, says a lot about you. So if someone makes an inappropriate comment, that disrespects a race, ethnicity, gender or profession, that you do not agree with, stop dwelling too much on what the mediators will think, go with your gut and jump at the chance to speak. Remember, though: Group Discussion is not war. Don’t take the debate to heart, and keep it light. You’re not going to be seeing the people involved anytime soon or ever anyway.
5. You don’t need to be the next Wikipedia:
One of my childhood friends, a year junior to me applied to my university for post-graduation. Weeks before her GD, I met her to find she was now an expert in numbers of people killed in the Palestine and Gaza attacks, to birth date of Kony, a civil terrorist from Uganda, who was making a child army.
GD is mostly opinion based, and sometimes does not require extensive amount of data to be presented. How do you plan to argue or give a perspective on – if women are women to join the army, with numbers alone? So, stop freaking out. Learn smart, not hard. Everyday newspaper reading and keeping tab on relevant news websites and forums should do the trick. Do not rant about facts you’re not sure about. You don’t want to be cross questioned on something you can’t provide a credible source to. Humor can be a good card, to break the tense atmosphere, although refrain from crude and sensitive issues for that as well. Everyone loves a good laugh, not being laughed at.
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