Group Discussion, GD, as it is popularly known, is an important part of selection process, be it for B school admission or for recruitment.
However, not all candidates are comfortable or confident to take up GD. Why is that so? Firstly, right from the nursery school days up to postgraduate level, the mode of evaluation is in the form of written exams and hence the emphasis on verbal communication is less.
Secondly, the candidates need to understand the fact that unlike written communication, verbal communication requires ‘life’ in the words to make it interesting. That means the speaker needs to take into account the pronunciation, accent, pitch, mood, modulation, pauses at appropriate places and choosing the apt words to give precise meaning.
Thirdly, in a GD, candidates are required to express their views and convince the ‘group’ and not an individual. It is not one to one but is rather one vs. many and thus requires different skill set and strategy.
Fourthly, a candidate must understand the exact meaning of the ‘discussion’ part of the GD. It is a discussion because there are more than two points of view. When a candidate expresses his/her view, he/she must realize that his/her views will be contested and speak accordingly.
Now, let us see as to how we must take on a GD. When the GD topic is announced a candidate is (a) well-conversant with the topic, (b) partially conversant, or (c) has a vague idea or no clue at all. When a person is participating in GD as part of selection process, he cannot give up and should have a ‘never say die’ attitude. In the above scenario, option (a) poses no problem. However, if he encounters option (b) or (c), here are some tips. Firstly, a topic has different dimension. A candidate needs to look at it from every dimension to get ideas to express some views, to be in the race. Well, it is easier said than done, especially under pressure. To simplify this, think of the department your college has and from that perspective, one can get many ideas. For example, an issue may have commercial, economical, scientific, cultural, religious, environmental and political points of view. Secondly, you may adopt the tactics of ‘old wine in new bottle’. The cinema people exploit this very well. The same love stories are repeated hits because the casting, treatment of story, songs, dances, and cinematography is different. Similarly, a point taken from other candidates can be presented with new examples in different manner to make it appear as a new point.
In the ultimate analysis, a business leader should be the first among the equals and should have the survival instinct. The GD is the best testing tool to establish this.
Col (retd) S Vijayaraghavan,
Thiagarajar School of Management, Madurai.