5 tips for starting a GD

Group Discussion forms an important stage in the admission process of top B-schools. The candidates are evaluated on the basis of their knowledge, communication and group skills. Initiating a group discussion is sure to enhance your score in a GD. Given below are the five important points to consider before initiating a GD:
Carefully craft the opening gambit
  • Well begun is half done : This age old adage is convincingly verified in the opening part of the GD. If you start on a good note and are able to impart the right direction to the group, it places you on a comfortable pedestal. It builds the right momentum for the entire group and earns you the tag of a leader.
  • High risk high return situation: Starting the discussion is a powerful role to play in a GD. It imparts directional inputs to the group members and demonstrates your initiative. However, the downside attached to it is also quite intimidating: you may start the discussion assuming it would enable you to leverage the potential benefits, hoping that other members would join in. But sample a possibility when nobody else pitches in and you alone have to hold the fort – it puts you in an embarrassing position!
  • Projects goal setting ability : The first speaker showcases an ability to set the goal for the subsequent discussion. This is even more true in case of an abstract topic, where the foremost challenge is to decode the topic in multiple ways and identify a tangible path for discussion.
  • Demonstrates high initiative : Being the first speaker is reflective of your ability to take the first step in the right direction, and indicates clarity of thought and high confidence levels.
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Use Key Word Approach
  • Identify the key words in the topic : Identifying the key words in the topic serves as a good strategy as it helps you to start in an easyyet sequential manner. For example, if the topic for discussion is ‘Is guessing an act of intelligence?’, then applying the key word approach helps you to identify ‘guessing’ and ‘intelligence’ as the key words in the given topic.
  • Define the key words : Having identified the key words, the next challenge is to define these words in a simple and empirical manner. In the above example, this will entail a quick definition of the words ‘guessing’ and ‘intelligence’, which is not a very difficult task!
  • Correlate the key words to pan out the scope of the topic for discussion : This step requires you to bind the key words in a meaningful and progressive way, enabling you to pan out a flowchart for the ensuing discussion.
Apply Shock Strategy
  • Shock and un-shock the group :People love to be taken aback; they value surprises! This approach propounds the need for doing something unpredictable to spell bound the group and then helping them to wriggle out of the surprise spell. If handled well, it will create an awe factor for you to ride on!
  • Shock can be created in different ways:-
    • Share a story : Stories are a powerful way of putting across your point of view. It also serves as an anchor during the critical opening part of the discussion. You are advised to be familiar with a variety of stories which can be quickly plugged in to suit the occasion. Motivational stories find a particular use here.
    • Use quotes : Quoting what someone said once upon a time, may be of significant help to build the opening pitch for the discussion. It is conducive in building up the momentum for the occasion.
    • Wield data : Stating relevant facts at the beginning of the discussion is a convincing way of impacting people and making them value your point of view. It adds authenticity to your content.
Follow Patenting Approach
  • Patent is a legal right : The first speaker takes it all! If you can think quickly and creatively, this strategy works for you. It is particularly useful where the topic is abstract and offers multiple opportunities for a lateral treatment.
  • Use divergent thinking to come out with as many implications of the topic as possible : Look at the topic in an unorthodox manner and try coming out with diverse implications thereof. As the first speaker pan out the various dimensions of the topic and then invite the group for a discussion on one or more of these.
  • Depends on the given topic; factual topics may not offer as much flexibility for divergent thinking : This strategy may not be applicable to every topic. For example, an abstract topic is likely to offer more patenting opportunities as compared to a factual one!
  • Be fluent enough to exercise this approach : The success of this approach depends on the pace by which you can communicate multiple ideas, and hence fluency is a great facilitator in this approach.
Avoid the following…..
  • Repeating the topic at the onset : Repeating the topic is an indication of your need to buy moretime to think. It is advised that you should not indulge in such a redundant technique.
  • Speaking for the sake of speaking : This is a superficial way of participating and both the panel and the group will realize the lack of content in your speech.
  • Taking an affirmative stand at the very beginning : It is suggested that you should not begin with a verdict/opinion. The idea is to evolve by means of a discussion and not be seen as an opinionated/judgmental person who is dampening the spirits of other participants.
  • Getting into a conflict with a parallel speaker : Getting into an undesirable conflict without any logic, may be of detrimental consequences. However, it should not hold you from constructive arguments.
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