Group Discussions, Debates

A Group Discussion is a methodology used by an organization to gauge whether the candidate has certain personality traits and/or skills that it desires in its members. In this methodology, the group of candidates is given a topic or a situation, given a few minutes to think about the same, and then asked to discuss it among themselves for 15-20 minutes.

Some of the personality traits the GD is trying to gauge may include: 

  • Ability to work in a team
  • Communication skills
  • Reasoning ability
  • Leadership skills
  • Initiative
  • Assertiveness
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Ability to think on ones feet

Company’s Perspective:-

Companies conduct group discussion after the written test so as to check on your interactive skills and how good you are at communicating with other people. The GD is to check how you behave, participate and contribute in a group, how much importance do you give to the group objective as well as your own, how well do you listen to viewpoints of others and how open-minded are you in accepting views contrary to your own. The aspects which make up a GD are verbal communication, non-verbal behavior, conformation to norms, decision-making ability and cooperation. You should try to be as true as possible to these aspects.

Reasons for having a GD 

  • It helps you to understand a subject more deeply.
  • It improves your ability to think critically.
  • It helps in solving a particular problem.
  • It helps the group to make a particular decision.
  • It gives you the chance to hear other students’ ideas.
  • It improves your listening skills.
  • It increases your confidence in speaking.
  • It can change your attitudes. 

Strategies for Improving GD Skills for Tutorials & Seminars

Asking questions and joining in discussions are important skills for university study. If you find it difficult to speak or ask questions in tutorials, try the following strategies.


Attend as many seminars and tutorials as possible and notice what other students do. Ask yourself:

  • How do other students make critical comments?
  • How do they ask questions?
  • How do they disagree with or support arguments?
  • What special phrases do they use to show politeness even when they are voicing disagreement?
  • How do they signal to interrupt, ask a question or make a point?


Start practicing your discussion skills in an informal setting or with a small group. Start with asking questions of fellow students. Ask them about the course material. Ask for their opinions. Ask for information or ask for help.


Take every opportunity to take part in social/informal discussions as well as more structured/formal discussion. Start by making small contributions to tutorial discussions; prepare a question to ask, or agree with another speaker’s remarks.

Discussion Etiquette (or minding your manners)


  • Speak pleasantly and politely to the group.
  • Respect the contribution of every speaker.
  • Remember that a discussion is not an argument. Learn to disagree politely.
  • Think about your contribution before you speak. How best can you answer the question/ contribute to the topic?
  • Try to stick to the discussion topic. Don’t introduce irrelevant information.
  • Be aware of your body language when you are speaking.
  • Agree with and acknowledge what you find interesting.


  • Lose your temper. A discussion is not an argument.
  • Shout. Use a moderate tone and medium pitch.
  • Use too many gestures when you speak. Gestures like finger pointing and table thumping can appear aggressive.
  • Dominate the discussion. Confident speakers should allow quieter students a chance to contribute.
  • Draw too much on personal experience or anecdote. Although some tutors encourage students to reflect on their own experience, remember not to generalize too much.
  • Interrupt. Wait for a speaker to finish what they are saying before you speak. 

Leading a Discussion

You may be in a seminar group that requires you to lead a group discussion, or lead a discussion after an oral presentation. You can demonstrate leadership by:

  • Introducing yourself and the members of the group
  • Stating the purpose of the discussion
  • Inviting quiet group members to speak
  • Being objective
  • Summarizing the discussion

Chairing a Group Discussion

When chairing a discussion group you must communicate in a positive way to assist the speakers in accomplishing their objective. There are at least four leadership skills you can use to influence other people positively and help your group achieve its purpose. These skills include:

  • Introducing the topic and purpose of the discussion.
  • Making sure all members have approximately the same time, (i.e. no one dominates the discussion by taking too much time).
  • Thanking group members for their contribution.
  • Being objective in summarizing the group’s discussion and achievements. 

Important  GD Topics

  • A Unipolar World spells disaster for underdeveloped countries like India
  •  Is Globalisation Really Necessary?
  •  What shall we do about our ever-increasing Population?
  •  Corruption is the price we pay for Democracy
  •  Foreign Television Channels are destroying our culture
  •  What India needs is a Dictatorship.
  •  With media publishing and telecasting trivia, censorship is the need of the hour. 
  • Kaun Banega Krorepati is less about knowledge but more about money and personality.
  • Beauty contests degrade womanhood.
  • The rise of regional blocs threatens independent nations like India
  • Six billion and one bronze!
  • Is dependence on computers a good thing.
  • Is India a Soft Nation?
  • Value based politics is the need of the hour
  • Religion should not be mixed with politics
  • How to deal with high oil prices
  • Our cricketers are not to blame for match fixing.
  • Multinational corporations: Are they devils in disguise?
  • Should there be private universities?
  • Does banning fashion shows and New Year parties save our culture
  • Position of Women in India compared to other nations.
  • Should SONIA Gandhi be made the PM
  • BPOs in INDIA
  • India or west , which is the land of opportunities
  • Effect of cinema on Youth
  • Education in India compared to Foreign nations
  • Is it necessary to ban COCO COLA in India.
  • What is the effect of movies on Youth. is it good or bad)
  • “UN’s peace activities” and “America’s war on Iraq”.
  • “Environment-Whose Responsibility”.
  • Is China a threat to the Indian software industry.
  • Role of UN in Peace keeping
  • War on Iraq
  • Cricket should be banned or not.
  • Love marriage/Arranged marriage.
  • Advantages of Co-education.  
  • How to deal with international terrorism.
  • Should we pursue our policy of dialogue with Pakistan?
  • Is peace and non-violence outdated concepts?



A debate is an organized clash of good ideas. Each side employs worthwhile evidence to promote their viewpoint and to rebut the “flawed” evidence advanced by the other side. Debating is a formal intellectual contest and there are endless ways it can be played. However, a good debate is like a tennis match where each side, following the rules set down, bats ideas back and forth to defeat the other team. As in any other subjective sport, debaters have to persuade the judges that they have won. Yet, debating can be an exciting even dangerous activity because emotions often run high.


Debaters challenge ideas, they do not attack each other. Like other sports, fair play is critical. Regular debaters will be transferred to play on the other side later in their careers, so it does not pay to be too emotionally tied. A debater is a spokesperson for the moment for or against a motion and is not a fanatic for a cause.


Because debating is a team event, it is important that the three speakers work together as a team. The TEAM LINE is the basic statement of “why the topic is true” (for the affirmative) and “why the topic is false” (for the negative). It should be a short sentence, presented by the first speaker of each team and used by the other two speakers to enforce the idea of teamwork. 
In a debating team each speaker has specified roles that they must fulfill to play their part in the team. They are laid out below in the order that the speakers will speak.
1st Affirmative must

  • Define the topic.
  • Present the affirmative’s team line.
  • Outline briefly what each speaker in their team will talk about.
  • Present the first half of the affirmative case.

1st negative must:

  • Accept or reject the definition. If you don’t do this it is assumed that you accept the definition.
  • Present the negative team line.
  • Outline briefly what each of the negative speakers will say.
  • Rebut a few of the main points of the first affirmative speaker.
  • The 1st negative should spend about one quarter of their time rebutting.
  • Present the first half of the negative team’s case.

2nd affirmative must:

  • Reaffirm the affirmative’s team line.
  • Rebut the main points presented by the 1st negative.
  • The 2nd affirmative should spend about one third of their time rebutting.
  • Present the second half of the affirmative’s case.

2nd negative must:

  • Reaffirm the negative’s team line.
  • Rebut some of the main points of the affirmative’s case.
  • The 2nd negative should spend about one third of their time rebutting.
  • Present the second half of the negative’s case.

3rd affirmative must:

  • Reaffirm the affirmative’s team line.
  • Rebut all the remaining points of the negative’s case.
  • The 3rd affirmative should spend about two thirds to three quarters of their time rebutting.
  • Present a summary of the affirmative’s case.
  • Round off the debate for the affirmative.

3rd negative must:

  • Reaffirm the negative’s team line.
  • Rebut all the remaining points of the affirmative’s case.
  • The 3rd negative should spend about two thirds to three quarters of their time rebutting.
  • Present a summary of the negative’s case.
  • Round off the debate for the negative.

Neither third speaker may introduce any new parts of their team’s cases

Judging a Debate

There are various Rules for debate judging:
Rule 1. The team doing the better debating is the winner.
Conceivably, more than one process might be employed to determine which team does the better debating. Indeed, since the beginning of intercollegiate debating a number of such methods have been proposed and utilized. Probably the most universally acceptable criterion would be this:
Rule 2. The team doing what the proposition requires is the winner.
Debate topics are worded so that one team must succeed and one team must fail in meeting the requirements of the proposition. The successful team, having done the better debating, is declared victorious.
When the topic is expressed in the usual form as a proposition of policy, the judge’s criterion for determining the winning team may be expressed in this form:
Rule 3. The decision is given to the affirmative if it succeeds in showing that the proposed plan should be adopted. The decision is given to the negative if the affirmative fails to show that the proposal should be adopted.
The judge must remain strictly neutral and impartial with regard to the subject matter for debate. He cannot aid one team or the other by injecting his own personal opinions into the decision. This principle is applied in several ways:
Rule 4. The judge must base his decision entirely on the material presented, without regard for other material which he may happen to possess.
Arguments or evidence which occur to the judge, but which are not employed in the debate, have no place in the decision. However, if the judge happens to possess some significant facts not employed in the debate, it would be helpful for him to mention them after his decision, as a suggestion for future use.
Rule 5. The judge is required to accept as true all arguments backed by reasonable proof (as defined above) until such arguments are overthrown by the opposing team.
The judge has no right to consider an argument weak unless the opposing team shows that it is, or unless the team making the argument badly asserts it and fails to support it with adequate evidence or reasoning.
Rule 6. The judge must not accept ideas which are not backed by reasonable proof.
Unsupported assertions and purely emotional appeals must not be considered. The use of emotion is legitimate in driving home a point, and is to be encouraged in many instances, but the point must also be supported by evidence or logic if it is to be considered.
Rule 7. The judge must not be partial to any of the team.
Each team has the right to make use of whatever arguments it desires, and the judge may not penalize a team for failing to make use of an argument or type of case he considers good. The entire decision must be based on what the teams accomplish, not on what the judge personally believes a good debate case on that subject to be.