Q. Does the use of certain words affect one's performance in a Group Discussion?
Filler Words: Within our own language we need to remove the filler words. These words give us time to think, but these words de-emphasize what we are trying to say. These phrases include:
- Sort of…
- Type of …
- Well, you know…
- You know what I mean…
Inappropriately used, they rob our speech of the power of persuasion.
Link Words: There are times when people want to soften the impact of what they want to say and they start with a seemingly incidental and important piece of information and then use a link word or expression before they say what they really mean. If you watch out of these, you will know how to focus on what someone is really trying to communicate:
- By the way…
- On the other hand…
Emphatic Words: Words that can be used to emphasize the ideas that follow them:
However, we need to think carefully about using these words. At times their use might imply that the information that follows is untrue.
Q. My spoken English is poor and GDs are just round the corner. Is there any quick-fix solution to maximize my chances?
What is important is "effectiveness" rather than the ability to speak fluently or use big words. For example, if someone uses grammatically incorrect English but is still able to express a good idea, this is still accepted. Similarly, people who deliver their points effectively using simple language are appreciated when compared to those who do the same with complex constructs. You can practice some simple statements like the following:
To give your opinion/ agree with an opinion
- "I think we should ….."
- "I think the correct approach is to ……"
- "I am in agreement with what has just been said."
- "I would like to add the following ……"
- "I don't agree with the idea that ….."
- "I differ on this issue. I think we should ….."
- "May be we should consider the following….."
- "I feel we should do/ should not do this…."
To seek clarification
- "Could you please restate what you just said?”
- "I did not understand you. Can you please repeat?"
Apart from the above, you can try the following:
- Practice speaking out loud whatever thoughts cross your mind on a subject, to overcome your inhibition.
- Practice reading out loud from books and newspapers.
- Watch news on popular English news channels.
- Form groups with others and speak in English as much as possible.
There are also audio tapes available (typically meant for TOEFL and TSE) which can be useful for this purpose.
Q. How do I say what I have to say?
The following are the important characteristics of Effective Communication:-
P - Pitch
I - Inflection
T - Tone
U - Understandability
R - Rate
E - Enunciation
Pitch: The different pitches we use in our voices will change the meaning of our messages or words. Approximately 38% of our communication is contained in the HOW of what we say. A high-pitched voice can sound irritating, while a low-pitched voice can sound more authoritative and can be particularly effective where we are trying to persuade others to our point of view.
Inflection: If we talk in a monotone then we will make it difficult for our listeners to concentrate on what we are saying. The group members will get bored and their minds will meander off into self dialogue or self talk.
Courtesy: It is all too easy to forget to include everyday courtesy in our conversations. We should remind ourselves to be courteous to everybody. Use of "Thank you" and "Sorry" does not harm anyone in anyway. This needs to be remembered in a GD as well.
Tone: The tone we use can emphasize the meaning of the words used. For example, say the following words using the tone that matches the word. (i.e. a sincere tone for the word sincere), sincere, pleasant, happy, sad, confident, believable.
Understandability: We should avoid talking with anything other than our tongue and teeth in our mouths. Chewing- gums etc. should be avoided. Also, avoid using slangs and jargons.
Rate: Rate stands for the rate or speed at which we speak. If we speak too quickly, our listeners may not be able to follow the content. Similarly if we speak too slowly, then people will try and finish off the subject of the conversation. It is the variety of “speeds” which gives power to our conversation, slowing down to make a particular point, speeding up to add emphasis and excitement. This change in rate gives feeling and enthusiasm to what we say.
Enunciation: We need to be careful how we enunciate what we say. We must speak clearly to avoid misunderstandings. Some people struggle more with numbers than with words, so we should take care to cite them clearly to avoid confusion. The letters T and D are often confused, as are P and B. Speaking clearly is the only way to speak if we wish to ensure that what we say is understood.