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Group Discussion FAQs



A group discussion is usually taken up for 10-15 minutes, however depends on members in group too.

A panel for a group discussion generally has 3 - 4 members generally. However sometime panel have 1 member too.
Yes, the group is given about 2 - 5 minutes to gather their thoughts but it may vary, so never rely on this, and be prepared always.
When you are in a group discussion, you should never consider addressing the panel members, in fact, you need to ignore their existence.
You can address the group as per your role in the discussion:
Initiator: Address everyone together as "Friends".
Administrator: Use names or "he" / "she" if you want to address a single group member.
The purpose of the group discussion is to check how well you can indulge in a conversation which includes listening, understanding and leading. If you speak up all you have and do not let the other members talk, your evaluation doesn't seem to go well. The time you take doesn't give away your points, it is the quality of your words and thoughts.
Yes, if you feel someone has been trying to share their views and did not get a chance, you can definitely encourage the person to speak. But that doesn't mean you can name anyone who has been quite in the discussion to speak up. They may be having difficulty understanding the topic or jotting down points for them. Do not encourage the one who doesn't wish to speak.
It depends on your panel. You may be allowed, or they may give a sheet themselves.
If the seating arrangement is a circle or a semi-circle, you can sit anywhere. If you are asked to sit on a rectangular table and you have the choice to decide, choose a position closer to the center.
The purpose of a group discussion is different than that of a debate. You need not to allocate time.
Yes. You just need to make sure the way you switch over is the correct way. It is very common in a group discussion to get convinced or agree to other's viewpoints as well. If you feel this is the case, you should accept and agree with the counterpoint in line with the explanation for how your argument was valid for a certain range and how you agree with the current argument for another range. Do not make rash comments on your earlier stand. You have to switch smartly. Do not blindly take a stand for another argument. Be sure of the facts and figures.
No. Asking the panel members is never a good idea. It would signify that you are ignorant. The correct way to go would be to wait and listen to other group members and try to make your own opinions. Once you feel you are comfortable with the topic, you can start participating in the discussion.
As soon as we make an appearance in a public space, we tend to find issues/topics which we strongly connect to. It is imperative though, to remain calm and not lose our cool, and be cogent while presenting our thoughts. In such situations the risk of situations, turning up against you can be frequent, getting over excited and interrupting others, some kind of emotional outburst leading to raised voice can backfire. Rule of thumb in such situations is to listen to others and respond to other's view with empathy and then considering your next move in a way which is ethical and acceptable.

It is a general observation that the best time to enter a GD is either at the beginning or the end. But, this may leave you feeling left out from the soul of the discussion. Therefore if possible, after you initiate the conversation, allow people to dive in and then formulate your replies on the basis of that. Discussions seesaw regularly from an intense phase to a point of silence, its best to cover up these lulls and fill the gaps. Mostly in GDs, there are highs and lows which we call crests and troughs of the discussion. The crest is the high-intensity time period, generally when the noise levels are at their peaks. The troughs are the times when it is very little or absolutely nothing cooking up in the discussion. So, an ideal situation is the one when you see people drawing themselves back from the discussion for any reason, it is, therefore, important to prevent the discussion reaching a point of complete silence or the period of troughs. In competitive discussions though, crests will occur more often than troughs which will be very rare. In such cases, wait for your chance and identify the perfect timing to hop in, probably during times when topics which you can relate to and have knowledge about are being discussed, here you can join the discussion irrespective of the noise level.
Following the strategy might come in handy - Identify the most powerful speaker in the group, and jot down the points that he/she is making. Just when the noise level reduces a little, enter supporting the powerful speaker and now you have the most powerful voice holding your back during high times.
Being the first to speak is a high risk yet an equally high return strategy. Given that you provide an empowering initial statement, which is relevant and sets the tone for the GD, it will go in your favor. Do this well and you will automatically establish for yourself the position of the group leader. However if you bungle it up (by speaking for the sake of speaking, not really having anything pertinent to say), it will be remembered and will go against you.
Command over English will certainly give an upper hand but won't compensate for lack of quality content. If your content is quality rich, then it will be your moral duty to speak your mind out irrespective of your English. You will get credit for soundness of ideas.
A situation will be a good indicator of that. In a light environment where participants and matter are loosened, it may be acceptable. But in a competitive situation, where the participants are tensed up, your attempts to provide with your humor may fall flat and even work up against you.
You have two choices: Agree with the person's point and complement it portraying its applicability in different situations. Doing this will allow you to broaden the scope of the argument Drop the point and think of fresh ones with their essential aspects. In order to avoid getting into a situation where someone else has already spoken your points, do speak up in the first 4-5 minutes of the GD. Waiting longer may lead to someone else talking over the same.
The moment you notice people reacting to you negatively or strongly, you may want to check your aggression levels. Their reaction will help you measure your aggression.
There is a fine line between aggression and assertiveness. Always strive for assertiveness and avoid being stubborn.
It's a myth. Usually, the person pertaining sound knowledge and command over the topic speaks more. This puts students under a false belief that whoever speaks most is successful. But if you are just blabbering stuff for the sake of speaking, that will not take you far.
Morally and ideally the moderator is expected to be unbiased and neutral. But let's not forget that a moderator is a human too and, on that ground, he might become biased once in a blue moon. Since this is not a factor within your control, it isn't worth paying much heed to it.
This surely can happen if the GD becomes too noisy and if the level of discussion deteriorates abysmally.
It's totally fine asking questions for the purpose of clarification but certainly not acceptable reviewing them for the purpose of playing the devil's advocate and proving a person wrong. By doing that, you hamper the flow of the GD. The questions there for raised unsettle the other participants and deteriorate the quality of the overall talk. This would reflect badly on you and will go against you.

That would be ideal but not the reality. Mostly, time constraints lead to an unfinished discussion.
The group should brainstorm for about a couple of minutes and narrow the list down to only 3-4 topics. Following this, they should prioritize the above-selected topics based on the comfort level and ease of discussion. This could be done by asking each participant to rank the alternative topics and the most popular choice should be considered.
You could use any of the following methods. - Ignorance would be the best option, let him be and address the other members of the group. - Be assertive and point him out saying that his argument is faulty. - Inform him that his point is well taken and that the group must now progress further by discussing the ideas presented by others.