5 tips for handling Factual GD topics

Factual topics frequently feature in the group discussions of top B-schools. In this article we shall try to understand the various challenges in handling factual topics in Group Discussions, and how to manage these challenges through a superior performance. Go through the following 5-point strategy to handle a factual GD topic effectively:
Understand the challenge
  • Group Discussion topics can be classified into two broad categories: Factual & Abstract
  • Factual topics are based on facts or information and can be further categorized into the following two:-
    • Factual Generic
    • Factual Specific
Handling Factual Generic Topics
  • These topics require a basic level of awareness w.r.t the various sectors of the environment. This basic environmental sensitivity acts as a catalyst in facilitating a smooth discussion. It may not have a critical role to play in the overall treatment of the topic, but surely serves as a discussion lubricant.
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  • They test you more on interpersonal skills and behavior, rather than discrete sectoral information. The prime objective of these topics is to measure your attitude, behaviour and communication, rather than knowledge and subject content.
  • Examples:-
    • Cricket and India
    • Issues of managing diversity in a country like India.
    • Honesty is the best policy.
    • Living in a joint family is better.
    • Is Guessing an act of intelligence?
    • Treat topics in a lateral manner
    • Follow the funnel approach
  • Use the funnel approach to handle the challenge in a factual generic topic. Start on a general note and look for relevant convergence points. The discussion becomes more potent and convincing with reference to specific points.
  • Use examples and illustrations to support your statements
Handling Factual Specific Topics
  • These topics require an in-depth understanding of the various sectors of the environment. They are critically dependent on information, facts and figures.
  • Examples:-
    • GST
    • WTO
    • GAAR
  • Use the inverted funnel approach to handle the challenge in a factual specific topic. Start on a specific note and look for possible divergence points. Conclude with convergence on the issue at hand.
Uphold the GD basics
  • Start only if you candefine the scope of discussion, and set a direction for the entire group. Speaking for the sake of speaking needs to be discounted.
  • Manage both verbal and non-verbal communication challenges. On the verbal side, ensure proper articulation, high levels of fluency and appropriate modulation. On the non-verbal side, ensure optimum levels of energy, proper eye contact, relevant gestures and an overall balance/poise.
  • Keep in mind the basics of group dynamics. The objective is not to scream out your opinions but to construct effective arguments for a meaningful discussion. There has to be a proper balance between individual excellence and group performance.
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Things not to do
  • Don’t get emotionally attached to the topic, more in case of a factual specific one. This may project you as a dogmatic person with little tolerance.
Don’t stick to only one dimension of the topic, more in case of a factual generic one, which has a higher risk of being treated in a unilateral manner. Try to explore multiple aspects of the topic, thus widening the scope of discussion and adding more value overall.
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