what is focus group discussion pdf and what is group discussion how can it be made effective
What is a Group Discussion?
Group discussion is an important activity in academic, business and administrative spheres. It is a
systematic and purposeful interactive oral process. Here the exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings
take place through oral communication. The exchange of ideas takes place in a systematic and structured
way. The participants sit facing each other almost in a semi-circle and express their views on the given
How does Group Discussion differ from a Debate?
Debate is competitive in nature while group discussion is a co-operative group process. In a debate, a
speaker can speak either ‘for’ the topic or ‘against’ the topic whereas in a GD, the speaker can express
both. The final decision or result in a debate depends on voting while in a GD, the group reaches group
Why is a group discussion an important activity at college level?
As a student, it helps you to train yourself to discuss and argue about the topic given, it helps you to
express your views on serious subjects and in formal situations. It improves your thinking, listening and
speaking skills. It also promotes your confidence level.
It is an effective tool in problem solving, decision making and personality assessment. GD skills
may ensure academic success, popularity and good admission or job offer. Thus it is important to be
able to take part in a GD effectively and confidently. Participants should know how to speak with
confidence, how to exhibit leadership skills and how to make the group achieve the goals. The panel which normally comprises of the technical and HR (Human Resource) experts of the
company will observe and evaluate the members of the team. The rules of the GD – the time limit, panel’s
expectations etc are explained after the initial introduction by the panel, soon after the topic or case to be
discussed is given to the group members. The panel does not interfere during the discussion, it only
observes. The panel at its discretion may provide some time to think over the topic or may ask them to start
immediately. Each candidate is supposed to express their opinion either supporting or against the topic. The
discussion carries on till the panel signals termination. It is left to the discretion of the panel to extend or
cut short the given time.
The objective of a selection in GD is mainly to
check your team playing skills. You have to understand the
other persons’ point of view, while making your point and ensure
that your team as a whole reaches a solution or agreement that is
both feasible and accepted by all team members.
There are four major areas of evaluation in
selection GDs: subject knowledge, oral communication skills,
leadership skills and team management.
Participants must possess a thorough understanding of the topic on which they are
supposed to speak. You must prepare yourself to talk on a wide range of subjects. Be abreast of the
current events, national and international affairs, burning social and economical topics, scientific and
environmental issues, key newspapers’ controversial topics and any experience that may be expected of
an educated person. As a member of the group, you are expected to contribute substantially to the
discussion. The originality of your ideas, your
knowledge and initiative and your approach to the topic
or case contribute to your success in the group
discussion. The best way to equip yourself is to read
daily newspapers, good magazines, national and
international journals and also watch new bulletins
and informative programmes on the television.
Internet is the greatest boon which provides you with
everything you are looking for. The World Wide Web
is a vast database of current authentic materials that
present information in multimedia form and reacts
instantly to a user’s input.
The greater your knowledge of the subject, the more enthusiastic and confident you will be
during the discussion. Once you have understood the topic or issue, you should be able to generate ideas as well as organize them so that you present it well. You will have the ability to analyze facts or
information in a systematic way. A person putting forward new ideas that may work will be accepted as
the natural leader of the group. The panel will observe the ideas put forward, their originality, the depth
of analysis and their relevance to the topic.
Problem solving skills are essential and do not hesitate to give solutions. Your approach to
the case study will be observed keenly by the evaluators.
Oral Communication Skills:
If subject knowledge is important, communication skills is more important as without
expression, the knowledge is of no use. As the
exchange of ideas in a group discussion takes place
through speech, one of the pre-requisites of success in a
GD is the ability to speak confidently and convincingly.
Good communication skills include active listening,
clarity of though and expression, apt language and proper
non verbal clues.
One of the weaknesses of most human beings is
that we love to listen to our own voice rather than listen
to others. Listening is as important as speaking in a
GD, unless you listen, you cannot contribute to the stated purpose of communication. It is
extremely important to listen very carefully, only then you will be able to pick up the thread of
discussion and continue. Only active participation as a listener in a group makes a person a good leader.
A leader is identified by the panel.
Clarity of thought and expression:
Clarity is the art of making yourself clear
to the audience. Only when your expressions are
clear, you can convince your team and the panel.
More than words, it is the tone in which they are
spoken that conveys the message. You should not
be too loud or too soft. A lively and cheerful voice
with appropriate modulations will attract the
audience. Proper articulation of words, achieved
through phonetic accuracy is very essential slang,
and artificial accents are to be avoided. Apt Language:
The flow of language must be smooth. Use simple language and avoid long winding
sentences. Appropriateness of language demands that there should be no errors of grammar. Do
not use unfamiliar phrases and flowery language. Be precise. Be polite and courteous.
Proper non verbal clues:
Non verbal clues include eye contact, body movements, gestures and facial expressions. The
panel very keenly watches the non verbal behavior of the team. They generally evaluate the body
language cues of the team to determine personality factors such as nervousness, co-operation,
frustration, weakness, insecurity, self confidence, defensiveness, etc. A candidate who appears
professional is more likely to be noticed by the panel. A confident posture, appropriate facial
expressions and meaningful eye contact with the team will create a good expression.
Your group behavior is reflected in your ability to interact with the other members of the group.
You must be mature enough to not lose your temper even if you are proved wrong. You must be patient
Your success in a GD depends on how well you play the role of initiator, information seeker,
information giver, procedure facilitator, opinion seeker, opinion giver, clarifier, summarizer,
social-supporter, tension reliever, compromiser, attacker, humorist and dominator.
The selection panel notes the differences in the amount of participation of the members. They
observe the silent spectators, the ever dominating but
not contributing much, member who participates
actively exhibiting his knowledge and the moderate
ones. Your ability lies in analyzing the problem well
and making others to endorse your view. Finally
while appreciating others point of view, you should
effectively present yours without contradicting
other’s opinions. Your ability in convincing the team
is your success
The success of any team depends to a larger extent on its leader. The panel evaluates a
candidate’s personal skills which allow him to prove himself as a natural leader in the GD. Though
there is no appointed leader in a GD, a leader emerges.
Assertiveness, emotional stability, objectivity, self-
confidence, decision making, discretion, initiative, good
communication skills, patience, persuasiveness and
adaptability are some of the leadership qualities that are
immensely useful in proving oneself as a natural leader in
A good leader should neither be very
authoritative nor submissive but must be democratic.
Such leaders see to it that all the members in the team
participate and when there is a problem, try to deal with it
amicably. Leaders should know how to deal with the ‘bull
dozers’, who make noise but do not have any logic.
Advantages of a GD:
• Ideas can be generated, shared and tried out.
• Groups provide a support and growth for any endeavor.
• Combine talents to provide innovative solutions.
Roles in a Structured GD:
• Information seeker and giver
• Procedure facilitator
• Opinion seeker/giver
• Social supporter
• Tension reliever
• Dominator Expectations of the Panel:
You should have the following qualities:
• Team player
• Creativity (out of the box thinking)
• Inspiring ability
Phases in a GD:
• The central group discussion
What to do in a GD?
• Speaking is important; do not sit
silently. Speak freely.
• Do not monopolize the conversation or talk too much.
• Give everyone a chance to speak.
• Maintain eye contact with everyone in the group.
• Show active listening skills.
• Do not interrupt anyone while they are speaking.
• Keep the topic on track and don’t be irrelevant.
• Encourage someone who is silent to talk.
• Do not argue with anyone.
• Do not debate with anyone, while the group looks on.
• Do not repeat what has been said; be attentive; try to develop on ideas expressed or give out new
• Clarify your doubts and then proceed.
• Be brief.
• Do not commit grammatical errors while talking.
Some topics for Group Discussion:
• Terrorism in India
• Religion should not be mixed with politics
• Morals & Values among Indians is Degenerating
• With Media Publishing and Telecasting Trivia, Censorship is the Need of the Hour
• We are not serious about saving Wildlife/Environment
• The education system needs serious reforms
• The Internet is an exercise in hype
• Is our Political System Reason for our Backwardness?
• Politics is run by the Barrel of Gun
• Corruption is the Price we pay for Democracy
• What India needs is a Dictatorship?
• Nuclear War cannot be won and should not be foughtShould Research on Human
Cloning be banned?
• Brain-Drain has to be stopped
• Should Animals be used for Testing New Drugs & Medical Procedures?
• Do NGOs in India Really Work for Others OR Work for their Own Vested Interests?
• Security Cameras & Privacy
• Advertisements Cheat People, Hence Should Be Banned
• What is the Difference between People who do Things Rightly and People who do Right
• Are Peace and Non-Violence Outdated Concepts?
• Capital Punishment should be Banned or Allowed?
• Is Dependence on Computers a Good Thing?
• Every Cloud has a Silver Lining
• Nice Guys Finish Last
• Privatization of Higher Education
• How effective are Indian B-schools?
• E-Learning: A Substitute for Classroom Learning?
• Cricket as a National Obsession is a Detriment to Other Sports.