Group Discussion: Evaluation Parameters

In this article we shall try to understand the various parameters on which your performance is assessed in a Group Discussion. Given below is a list of five important evaluation parameters for a GD:
  • It is the ability to impart directional inputs and provide a flowchart for the subsequent discussion.
  • The three ‘C’ approach helps in taking the right initiative –
    • Clarity : This refers to the clarity in thought process and is manifested in the way you channelize the discussion. This assumes even more significance if the topic for discussion is an abstract one, thus making the discussion dependent on your perception.
    • Content : This refers to your ability to add discrete subject matter for the discussion at hand. Generally candidates with a grip on current affairs and strong environmental sensitivity have a competitive advantage here.
    • Confidence : This is your ability to connect comfortably with other members of the group and participate confidently.
  • Initiative is not just limited to being the first speaker in the discussion; even a speaker who participates later in the discussion may be high on initiative. It merely depends on your ability to add something new and relevant to the discussion.
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  • Approach
    • Action/Reaction : You may contribute in two ways- either initiate an action or react to someone’s action. Initiating an action requires utmost clarity with respect to the topic at hand, as well as sufficient content. Reacting to a speaker’s viewpoint may be either indicative of your agreement with the speaker or mark a disagreement. In case you agree with the speaker’s point, it is advised that you add value to the point by giving an illustration or example. In case of a disagreement, you are required to construct effective arguments to support your contradiction.
  • Role
    • Leader : In this role you showcase an ability to motivate the team members and coordinate the overall discussion.
    • Fountain Head : This is a role where you evince an ability to add new and relevant points to the discussion so as to keep it alive and active.
    • Piggy Rider : In this role you steal someone else’s idea and ride on the other someone. However, you need to be smart and fluent to measure up to this role.
  • Nature of contribution
    • Positive : A person who contributes in a positive way is able to create a learning and participative environment for the group members. He/ She would not dampen the spirits of other participants.
    • Negative : A person who impedes the flow of meaningful discussion by redundant intervention and objectionable behaviour/attitude, is a negative participant. Such a participant doesn’t conform to the basics of team dynamics and is therefore undesirable.
  • Verbal Communication
    • Fluency : This is the ability to speak in a continuous and uninterrupted manner. This should not be confused with rate of speech. You may be speaking at a slower rate, but may still come across as a fluent speaker. An optimum rate of speech coupled with good fluency adds to the effectiveness of speech.
    • Articulation : This is the ability to speak in a clear and pleasantly audible manner. An articulate speaker has the advantage of enhanced impact due to speech clarity.
    • Modulation : This is the ability to add a contextually relevant flavor to your voice, as reflected in occasional pitch variation.
  • Non-verbal Communication
    • Energy : This is indicative of your capacity for work. Participants with high energy levels have a definite advantage over the other lot. However, this should not be confused with impulse, which is a negative trait.
    • Posture : Your body posture should be upright and appropriate, projecting you as a well composed and poised candidate.
    • Eye Contact : This takes care of the way you acknowledge other participants and the split between the ones adding value and otherwise. As per Pareto rule, 80% of the time you should look at the key speakers, and the remaining 20% at other participants, including the ones who are absolutely quiet.
    • Gesticulation : While gestures, if appropriate and positioned well, add to the overall communication effectiveness; an overdose of these may label you as impulsive and restless. Avoid pointing fingers at other candidates and also curtail unnecessary leg movements.
  • It is important to persuade other participants, more so in controversial topics. A persuasive speaker is more probable to lead the discussion.
  • Three pronged approach to persuasion:
    • Ethos : This refers to persuading on the basis of trust and credibility, as demonstrated in previous participation. Candidates who add value to the discussion in its formative stages are more probable to be heard and respected.
    • Pathos : This is about managing the emotions of other group members. This may be done in multiple ways, like knowing when to counter/support the viewpoints of other participants, knowing the right entry /exit points in a discussion etc.
    • Logos : This refers to the logical proposition in your speech. Candidates with stronger logical quotient are better received than others.
Group Dynamics
  • Striking a balance between individual excellence and group performance is one of the biggest challenges for effective group dynamics.
  • Establishing positive relationships with participants is a great advantage in connecting with the team. However, this should not be misconstrued for compromising the essence of healthy controversy.
  • Ensuring a logical progression of the discussion is another effort towards positive group dynamics. You are advised to logically graduate from one discussion thread to another, rather than random hip hopping.
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