How to prepare for Group Discussion
By Academic Research Team, T.I.M.E
Group Discussion is a way by which the B School panel measures the following qualities in the applicants:
- Content: How much knowledge you possess on that area of topic.
- Rational thought process: How good is your analytical skills and thought process
Communication: Both spoken English and non-verbal communication. Should be loud, clear & fluent in your speech.
- Group Behavior: How good is your group dynamics, the way you are pleasantly interacting with the group and your body language.
- Leadership Skills: A leader shall emerge in the GD because of his/her contribution. Leadership skills are exhibited when the speaker gives certain points in the GD which either moves the GD forward in a new direction or moves it towards a consensus. The leader brings in a fresh approach to a thought process which the group follows.
So we see that content, knowledge and rational thought process are some of the most important requirements to be successful in a GD. We shall first see how we go about preparing for the knowledge areas first then we shall see how to structure our knowledge and generate points in a GD.
GD topics are classified under the following categories:
- Knowledge Intensive Topics
- Non-Knowledge Intensive topics
Knowledge Intensive topics can be of the following nature:
- Economic Topics (Example: Liberalization is leading to jobless growth)
- Social Topics (Example: Dowry continues to haunt Indian brides)
- Political topics (Example: Reservation issue is just to get a vote bank)
- Sports/ Media related topics (Example: 1 Billion people, 1 silver medal: this is with reference to Olympics)
- Sector based topics like in IT, Telecom, Retail (Example: Retail boom spells doom for the local grocer)
Non-Knowledge Intensive topics can be of the following nature:
- Concrete topics (Example: Greed is good)
- Abstract topics (Example: Deep blue is not blue enough)
So start listing down different topics under each areas or check out any GD book and start reading up under each categories.
For Economic related topics look at fundamental concepts like FDI, Stock Markets, Liberalization, Employment scenario, Capital Convertibility, Rupee VS Dollar, Inflation, Export-Import, different kinds of economy in the world, Socialist versus Capitalist, etc. For Sector based topics start making a 1-2 page note on each important sector like IT, ITES, Banking, Insurance, Retail, Telecom, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Power, Agriculture, Logistics & transportation, Nuclear issues etc. Try to study about what has been happening in each sector in last 1 year, what are the problems, who are the major players, what is the future trend, what are the strengths and weaknesses in each sector.
Now comes the second part which is how to structure our knowledge and generate points in a GD.
We teach 3 methods to generate points in a GD:
- KWA (Key word approach)
- VAP (View Point of affected parties)
- SPELT (Social, Political, Economic, Legal, Technology)
Let us try understanding how to use them.
Say the topic is “Deep Blue is not Blue Enough”. Now we got to take each word and try to understand the significance of it. “Deep Blue” can symbolize the super computer with whom Garry Kasparov had a chess competition. So once you connect the word with the example that’s one point. Now try generalizing further into the debate about artificial intelligence over human intelligence, and say that artificial intelligence is not “ENOUGH”. So we are trying to use the key words in the topic itself to first understand the topic better and then to generate more points.
Say the topic is “Dowry continues to haunt Indian brides”. So who are the parties involved with this topic: Bride, Bride’s family, Groom, Groom’s family, Society, Media (who shall be make the issue public), NGOs (for supporting the bride), Government & Panchayats (their role in dowry removal), Law enforcers like courts & police. Now each of these parties’ view-points and roles related to the topic becomes a valid point for the GD.
Say the topic is “Retail boom spells doom for the local grocer”. So from SPELT way the following points can be generated:
- Social: Should we support the small kiranas just on humanitarian grounds?
- Political: Role of Government
- Economy: Impact on Indian Economy because of Retail & Retail sectors contribution to GDP
- Legal: FDI issues, Labor laws, Taxation
- Technology: Cold Storage & Supply Chain, Efficient supply and availability will marginalize prices and reduce costs and wastages.
Hence we see that apart from knowledge the way you are analyzing a topic is important. Using these tools is practice, so henceforth when you are discussing or reading any topic try using these tools for analysis so that on the final day generating points in a GD comes very naturally.
Wish you all the very best. Please remember always when the going gets tough the tough gets going, so give it your best shot and results WILL follow.