Tips To Improve Your Teen's Group Discussion Skills

Help your child stand out in a group discussion with these tips and ensure his success in his academic career.

By Leena Ghosh

Tips To Improve Your Teen's Group Discussion Skills

Sana is thrilled to have cleared the entrance examination for a prestigious institute. She really wants a seat in this college. But, the exam is only the first hurdle. Next is the group discussion round. While Sana had prepared well for the exam and had been quite confident, she isn’t too sure of this. In fact, she is quite scared. She has good subject knowledge; but, she doesn't know how to put her points across during the discussion.

The group discussion round comes and goes, and Sana does not qualify. She is dejected and feels that all her hard work has been in vain. 

This is not a unique scenario. Many colleges and top-level institutions now conduct written tests and group discussions (GD) before awarding a seat to the student. So, it's important that your child knows not only how to fare well in written tests but also how to master the GD round.

Why are group discussions important at the college level?

A group discussion is used as a method to assess the candidate’s level of confidence, interpersonal skills and decision-making skills. These traits can’t be discerned with a written test and, hence, many institutions hold these discussions to identify the right candidate for their programme. For example, some of the above-mentioned qualities are essential for a student looking to pursue a career in management.

Marianne De’Nazareth, adjunct faculty at St Joseph’s college, Bengaluru, says that there are many skills the jury looks for in a candidate during a group discussion. “Some of the qualities we look for are confidence, affability, grooming, ability to work in a team and leadership skills,” she says. She further adds that they check for interpersonal skills of the candidates during a team activity.

Different types of group discussions

A GD can be conducted in the following manner: 

  1. Structured: In a structured discussion, the candidates are given a set time and sequence in which they have to express their opinions on the chosen subject.
  2. Unstructured: In this method, the participants are allowed to discuss their opinions freely on a subject chosen by the jury and communicate their thoughts to the group.

During both kinds of discussions, the observer takes notes regarding the level of confidence and participation of all the candidates.

Problems students face during a group discussion

  • The fear of public speaking
  • Insufficient knowledge about the topic being discussed
  • Ineffective communication skills

How to help your child prepare for a GD

  1. Ask your child to be up-to-date with the latest news and trending topics.
  2. Make sure your child reads newspapers regularly.
  3. Ask your child to watch videos and make a small presentation on various topics to help him remember the details better.
  4. Ask your child to give a speech while looking at herself in the mirror. This will help her analyse the way she speaks and build her confidence.

How to help your child perform well in a group discussion

Before any group discussion starts, the participants are given some time to think about a chosen topic and formulate their thoughts. Ask your child to note down all the points he can think of regarding the subject. Ask him to jot down his arguments supporting his reasoning. Once he’s formulated his thoughts, here’s how he should present them:

Give good reasons: It’s essential that your child not only makes a point, but also gives a supporting argument to validate the point. If she knows and is confident about the facts and data, she must share it with the group to add more weight to her arguments.

Speak clearly: As much as possible, ask your child to enunciate and speak clearly so everyone is able to understand what he says. This also helps make a good impression on the panel.

Stay on the topic: During heated discussions, at times, participants tend to get off the topic. Teach your child how to bring back the focus of the group to the topic. This will highlight her leadership skills.

Be a good listener: An important element of a successful group discussion is that the participants are willing to listen as well. Tell your child that it’s important to not only be vocal, but also to listen. While listening to others speak, he may even be able to think of other good points he can contribute to the discussion

Be confident: Tell your child that while this selection process is important, it is not the end of the world. So, she must not fear the process or what others have to say. She should be confident about who she is and what she knows, and give it her best shot.

Be the first and the last speaker: In a group discussion, it’s essential that your child makes a good first and last impression. It will make him more noticeable as a prospective candidate. So, as far as possible, ask him to speak first on the topic and conclude the discussion as well.

Be well groomed: Appearances matter and more so when you are being compared to others present in the same room. Make sure your child is well dressed. Remember, it should be a formal outfit.

Group discussions are a part of the selection process, not only at the college level but also later while applying for jobs. Hold mock discussions at home with all the family members and give your child as much practice as possible to help her be more prepared.

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