How to Effectively Participate in Group Discussions

Not everyone is a fan of group discussions, but most would agree that group communication is an important form of communication in academic, professional and social contexts. Your contribution to the discussion and the way you communicate with others define your role in the group and affect how other members perceive you.

People can feel uneasy in meetings and unsure of what to say in discussions which makes it hard for those people to have their ideas heard. They need a voice in meetings. Merely telling people to be confident and to speak up is not enough.

If you want to improve your group communication skills, here are some tips for you.

Be Prepared

First of all, you need to review the topics and materials to be discussed. As you are reading those documents, make notes about your thoughts and the questions or comments that you have for the group. Make sure to read through the agenda and be aware of who the attendees are

Arrive a few minutes before the meeting

Showing up five minutes early will give people the impression that you are organised and dedicated. Arriving early will also allow you to meet and greet other attendees in advice, so you will feel more relaxed and confident during the meeting.

Speak confidently

Don’t often use qualifiers such as ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ in your sentences because they imply your uncertainty about what you are suggesting. Also, avoid tag questions, such as ‘it’s our best choice now, isn’t it?’ This type of sentence is seeking approval from others, which makes you sound less confident.

Use an appropriate tone

A tone that is too soft conveys doubt and lowers your credibility. A soft tone also may not allow everyone in the room to hear you clearly. Your voice should sound firm but not aggressive and unfriendly.

When confronted by others, focus on the issue under discussion and remain polite

First, acknowledge the value in the other party’s ideas or opinions. For example, ‘I see your point in…’ or ‘Jason provided a very interesting perspective…’ Then you can provide facts, data, or other evidence to explain why your recommendation is more desirable for the current circumstance. Even if your ideas is not accepted, at least you make it heard – that’s the most important.

If someone states your idea before you have the chance to

You can express your support for this idea and if you have additional thoughts about it, share them with the group to have further discussion. For example, ‘I like this idea. By doing…, we might also be able to tackle…’ ‘Great idea. We might also want to consider… to further expand…’

In addition to the tips above, we must also pay attention to basic communication techniques, such as active listening, eye contact, open gestures, etc. When you build up your confidence and are well-prepared, you will enjoy participating in a group discussion and sharing ideas and thoughts.