A good majority of the population has no problem being able to speak to one or two people at a time, but when you get into a large group, it can be difficult. Many get nervous when they are part of a larger discussion, and it’s completely understandable. Others feel comfortable in front of several other people, but don’t know the right times to get involved throughout the conversation and end up being unwillingly silent.
If you’re one of the millions that are looking to sharpen their group discussion skills, there are some ways in which to get more involved and have better talks. Let’s take a look at the art of group discussion, and show you how to inspire, engage, and include.
One of the worst things that you can do during a group discussion is make yourself look like you’re not interested at all. Throughout the discussion, you’re likely to be ignored based on your body language because those around you might not think that you’re taking things seriously. When you’re being attentive, a lot of the conversation is going to end up flowing through you as you’ll be looked at as someone that can help lead.
You may already be listening to everything that’s being said, but if your body language is off, it can fool some people. The trick to having attentive body language is to keep all of your focus on the person that’s speaking. Make sure to show active interest by nodding your head and affirming with small noises that you’re interested in hearing the person talking. These subtle things show that you’re 100 percent part of the discussion.
Getting Others Involved
It’s a good thing to take the lead in a group discussion, but you want to make sure that everyone is included. When you get to the end of a good point, you should ask someone that hasn’t been included just yet how they feel about that topic. This helps to pass things around as a good basketball team would, and nobody will walk out of the discussion feeling jilted or that they didn’t get their two cents in.
We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve had a lot of things to say and waited for the right opportunity to chime in, only for it to never come. When you command the room and make sure that everyone gets a chance to speak, everyone will wrap up the discussion feeling satisfied that their opinions were heard.
We already talked about body language when it comes to being a listener, but body language is also important when it comes to the speaking aspect of group discussion. When it’s your turn to speak, you want to command attention, and the best way to do that is through good body language. A lot of people are shy and tend to raise their shoulders and lower their voice, but those that are constantly moving and speaking at a higher volume will demand attention.
While using your hands as part of your speech isn’t always the best thing, it can be good for a group discussion since it keeps all eyes on you. This is something that every public speaker is trained on, from the head of a small company all the way up to the President of the United States. You don’t want to be mousy or monotone when talking, or else people can tune out quickly.
Keep It Civil
Group discussion can get off the rails pretty quickly, especially if there are multiple people there that share opposing viewpoints. When they start to get off topic and are exchanging verbal barbs, it’s important that you veer them back on the right path. You can do it in a comedic way that eases the tension, or you can firmly tell them that any off-topic conversation is not allowed.
It’s not always easy, and those that are getting off-topic may want to ignore you, but discussions will go nowhere if this happens. For those that don’t want to stay on-topic, you can even boot them out of the group to show that your discussion is to be taken seriously
In the end, there are a few key points that you need to take away from being part of a group discussion. These points are that you should show great body language, listen to everyone that’s speaking, keep the conversation on-topic, and show respect to everyone in the room. If you follow these steps, even the most novice of public speakers will be able to feel more comfortable and effective in a group discussion setting.