How To Start A Group Discussion (And Tips To Lead One)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A group discussion is a common strategy used by educational institutions, corporates and other organisations to analyse the communication and leadership skills of an individual. It presents the individual's skills of interacting with their peers, superiors or even customers and makes it easier to pick able candidates for the organisation. Group discussions enhance your interpersonal skills, which are a basic necessity in any professional or educational culture. In this article, we discuss a few steps to start a group discussion and lead one, to help you make a positive impression in front of viewers.

Related: What Is A Group Discussion?

How to start a group discussion

It is crucial to know how to start a group discussion as organisations give significant importance to communication skills and technical knowledge while short-listing potential candidates. Taking up the role of the initiator in a group discussion gives you a chance to speak with the maximum uninterrupted time, attract everyone's attention and make a good impression. Articulate a powerful starting statement and have the presence of mind to come up with creative additions to the discussion.

Here are some steps you can follow to start a group discussion:

1. Introduce yourself

While initiating the group discussion, try to introduce yourself before you start speaking on the topic. Take a moment to introduce yourself to other participants and the supervisor. For instance, you can start with a simple 'Hello, my name is Rajarshi,' and then continue with the topic. Confidence is key while introducing yourself. Once the initial introduction is complete, you can start giving your inputs on the topic of discussion.

2. Communicate clearly and fluently

While you introduce yourself and the topic, try not to stutter or stammer. Present your views and communicate with complete confidence and fluency. If you have a minute to prepare, try rehearsing your introduction with someone else or by yourself and make any necessary changes according to the feedback. The key to a successful group discussion is to stay active and involved throughout the discussion.

Related: How To Succeed In A Group Discussion

3. Present the topic with an interesting take

While initiating the group discussion, make sure that you start with a conventional take on the topic. This way, you can attract attention in the room and increase interest. Even though group discussions are spontaneous, you can always prepare beforehand by practising mock discussions on different industry-related topics.

4. Keep the content relevant

When starting a group discussion, it is ideal if you add relevant information on the topic. It is crucial that you at least have a basic knowledge of the topic. If necessary, you can take a moment to understand the topic before starting. Ensure you do not present ambiguous or unnecessary information.

5. Use questions and quotes

Starting with a powerful and relevant quote, question or fact is one of the most effective tactics that can grab attention in a group discussion. It captures the interest of your listeners and shows your in-depth knowledge of the subject. Make sure that you make a neutral statement. Here, it is instrumental that you maintain a neutral perspective and do not present a biased opinion in the beginning.

6. Use your time efficiently

If you plan on initiating the group discussion, remember to keep it brief and to the point. Avoid over elaborating or exaggerating the topic at the beginning. Keep in mind that the supervisors are not looking for additional or unnecessary information. Ensure that you utilise the time you get, especially when you are starting a group discussion.

Initiating the discussion may not be always enough. Once the other participants make their own contributions, continue the discussion and make sure that you keep making meaningful additions to the debate.

Related: Key Phrases For Starting, Leading And Concluding Any Group Discussion Topic

How to lead a group discussion

Once you are done with the introductory part and have presented your views and points, the next participant can take over or add to what you have presented. Nevertheless, there are ways to politely interrupt someone without seeming rude and present your own views on the topic. Here are some tips that can help you enter a group discussion and stay active throughout the discussion:

1. Listen intently

Listening to the inputs of your competitors is essential in a group discussion. It can give you insights into the thoughts of your fellow participants, help you understand where the topic is leading and give you time to decide what you want to present next or want to contribute to the ongoing discussion. It also lets you know what other participants think about the topic. If in case the topic is not clear to you, listening carefully to others speak can give you direction and insights about the topic under discussion.

Related: Sample Topics For Group Discussion

2. Maintain relevance

When you listen intently, it becomes easier for you to recognise if the topic is going relevant. You can make a comeback into the discussion by leading the topic back to the main subject of discussion. This can make a good impression as it demonstrates that you are listening, observing and contributing actively to the group discussion.

3. Choose the right timing

It is very essential to know when you can step into the discussion. It is important that you do try not to interrupt the person speaking mid-sentence. Wait for the other person to finish and then add your points to where the previous participant left or present another perspective by clearly stating it.

4. Introduce new ideas

To make a positive impression in the group discussion, your best option is to present new ideas. Keep a note of what other participants have covered throughout the discussion. Come up with ideas and points that anyone else has not mentioned in the discussion. This can help attract the attention of the audience and demonstrate your competitive advantage amongst others and score additional points.

Related: 15 Top Group Discussion Tips To Help You Pass To The Next Round

5. Present different perspectives

In case you are unable to present new perspectives, make a note of the point made by other participants. Then, express your opinion about one or more of them from a different perspective. Share your opinions and viewpoints with facts to add value to your response.

6. Be quick and concise

Be quick to enter the discussion so that you can manage to gain a competitive advantage. If you are quick and concise, it can be difficult for anyone to interrupt or cross-question your points. Whereas, if you choose to enter the middle of the discussion, it is essential to choose the right opportunity and have a valid counter-argument to justify your comeback.

7. Continue from the last speaker's views

A great way to enter a group discussion is by picking off where the previous participant left. Once the participant completes expressing their views and opinions, you can add your views and perspectives and whether you agree or disagree with the previously made statements. Irrespective of you agreeing or disagreeing with the previous speaker's opinion, building on their premise ensures the continuity of the discussion.

8. Target low points

The high points in a group discussion are when the discussion is the most constructive. The low points are when the participants complete presenting their points and views. To enter the discussion, you can target the low points rather than entering your inputs when they may have a lesser impact or importance.

9. Be convincing

The way you present your views makes a significant difference when they are relevant and unique, which can encourage the participants to get back into the discussion. Maintain body language by keeping eye contact and showing agreement. This keeps the attention of the other participants on you and helps you get an opportunity to lead the discussion in your desired direction.

10. Express confidently

If you have a different opinion or a perspective on a certain topic, try to express it clearly and firmly. Disagreeing just for the sake of an argument may not be ideal for a successful group discussion. Make sure you express your opinions confidently and have a solid counter-argument to support your perspective.

Explore more articles