Group Discussions are conducted to evaluate the candidates on certain personality traits. Here are some of the important personality traits and skills that a candidate should possess to perform well in a GD:
Leadership skills and initiative-taking ability
Taking initiative is indicative of your ability to impart direction to the group and define the key issue(s) along which the discussion has to progress. The three "Cs" which rank you high on this parameter are clarity (the main points to be discussed), content (the vertical depth in each point) and confidence. The "Key Word Approach", wherein you start with defining the dominant words in the topic and then develop subsequent constructs, can help you to initiate effectively. This will also demonstrate your leadership skills.
For example, in a topic like "Should Republic Day celebrations be redefined?", the key words are "Republic" and "redefined". Thus, a good strategy can be giving a backdrop against which this day is celebrated, then graduating to the way it is celebrated and finally talking about ways and means of redefining (if at all). If demonstrated properly, this skill gets you in the visible limelight and reflects your ability to break the ice and evoke a discussion! However, if mishandled (e.g., you may start off on a high note and then abruptly recede into an eerie silence), it puts you in an embarrassing position!
Knowledge reflects your ability to have an opinion on issues and concerns of contemporary relevance and hence your ability to connect with different aspects of the environment (economic, political, business, social, etc.). It assumes, even more, relevance for a fact-intensive topic like "Indian Economy in the post WTO regime". Here, knowledge becomes a sharp differentiator and helps you to leverage a strong competitive advantage. Unless you have the requisite knowledge of the given topic, your discussion runs the danger of being shallow and superficial. Being well versed in current affairs and issues of concurrent importance can help you to do well along this parameter.
This basically demonstrates the skill to strike a balance between individual excellence and group performance. A person scoring high on this parameter will be more probable to work in groups and hence contribute effectively to organizations. It also reflects your team skills, listening skills and willingness to accept diverse viewpoints.
Logical Ability/Analytical Skills
This indicates your ability to effectively flowchart your thought process and analyze the topic in a comprehensive manner. It reflects your ability to construct logical arguments and structure the discussion in a streamlined manner, avoiding random forays.
Group Discussion Preparation
This reflects your ability to think off the feet and contribute on a creative and unorthodox tangent. It is even more relevant for an abstract topic, where the scope to view the topic from an avant-garde angle is proportionately more (e.g. in a topic like "red and blue", somebody who translates this into a coke (red) and pepsi (blue) warfare or discuss the marketing strategies of kingfisher (red) and jet (blue) or harp on the gender differences as mentioned in John Gray's "Men are from Mars (red) and women are from Venus (blue)", will definitely stand apart.)
This evaluates the candidate's ability to connect with the group and is measured from a dual perspective - verbal and non-verbal. While verbal communication scores the student on parameters like fluency, articulation and modulation, the non-verbal quotient defines his/her adequacy vis-&-vis body language, gesticulation, eye contact and posture.