Situational Vocabulary – Group Discussions

Group discussion is a discussion among participants who have an agreed (serious) topic wherein they present their opinion and it also  requires certain vocabularies like follows:-

 

To begin a speech

Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen

Ladies and gentlemen, madam Chair.

 

Points of information

Asking for points of information: Point of information!

On that point, sir/madam!

Answering points of information: Yes, please!

No, thank you!

Declined!

I’ll take you in a moment.

Interrupting a point of information: Thank you, I got the point!

 

Structuring a speech

As my previous speaker has pointed out …

As my next speaker will explain …

I’m going to present three arguments: first … second … third

I’ve just told you about … Now I’m going to ….

 

 

Placing emphasis

This issue/problem cannot simply be shrugged off/dismissed/ignored

I’m convinced that

Let me repeat/reiterate the importance I attach to …

 

Strongly agreeing

You’re perfectly right

I quite agree with …

I cannot but agree/I couldn’t agree more

I accept the idea/proposal/suggestion without resevation

Precisely

Exactly

Absolutely

I am firmly/entirely/fully/completely/wholeheartedly in agreement with …

 

Mildly agreeing

You may be right there

That’s true, I suppose

I suppose so

 

Conceding

I must admit that your arguments have convinced me

You have convinced me that …

In order not to stand in the way of agreement …

 

 

Mild disagreement

That’s not really how I see it

I don’t really agree

 

Strong disagreement

I’m sorry, that’s out of the question

I believe it would be a mistake to …

I’, afraid I (totally) have to disagree with you

I beg to differ

I’m sorry I don’t agree at all

I simply can’t agree to this

Under no circumstances could I agree to …

 

Providing additional information

Perhaps I should be more specific

Without going too much into detail, I should perhaps mention …

I think it would be helpful to add/ point out ….

 

Checking understanding

Are you saying that …

Are you suggesting that …

Are you implying that …

If I understand you correctly …

If I follow you …

 

Interrupting

I’m terribly sorry to interrupt you, but …

Forgive me for interrupting, but …

Before you go any further, may I point out/indicate/explain

 

Handling an interruption

If you could bear with me for a moment, I shall deal with that point a little later

With your permission I would like to finish what I was saying

With all due respect I should like to finish the point I was making

If you would allow me to continue/finish?

 

Referring back

As we are saying earlier

To go back to what I was just saying

To go back to what X was saying earlier

 

Introducing new elements

I should now like to turn briefly to the question/problem of …

At this point I would like to raise the subject of …

There are some additional matters/questions which must be considered here

Another thought that occurs to me is …

 

Summing up an argument

If I might just go over the main points made?

To sum up/recapitulate, one can say that …

All the proposed solutions boil down to …

The most persuasive/compelling argument made today is …

 

Concluding

We’re running out of time so we’re going to have to stop here

To go over what’s been said

I’ve listened to both sides of the argument

I think I can sum it up

Unless anyone has anything else to add, I think that’s it

I think the following general conclusion may be drawn from the discussion…

Power of Gestures and Postures in Body Language

Perhaps the most fundamental form of visual communication – indeed of all communication – is body language. This is a language which we have all learnt to speak and understand and yet it is. As  body language is an important part of public speaking, your body language includes your posture, movement, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and voice.  The way we carry ourselves, the gestures we use and our postures communicate much more than we realize.

Here are the most common gesture and posture mistakes that should be taken care of:

GESTURES 

  • Not using gestures at all.  If you keep your hands locked at your sides, you will look nervous and your presentation will lack the visual element to accompany and enhance your words.
  • Fidgeting with your hands.  Be aware of what your hands are doing, such as “washing” each other, grasping each other tightly, fiddling with your watch or jewelry, etc.  One of the common mistakes can be rolling and unrolling shirt sleeves while presenting.  If you must hold something, such as your notes or the PowerPoint remote, be conscious of how you are holding it.
  • Holding your hands behind your back.  This gesture usually resembles that of a child reciting a poem at a school assembly. When not gesturing, your hands should be in the “neutral position,” hanging loosely at your sides.
  • Folding your arms across your chest. Even if you are only doing this because you feel cold, this gesture will most likely be interpreted as your closing yourself off from the audience.
  • Moving without purpose.  Most of the time you should stand confidently in one place rather than pacing back and forth or walking aimlessly.  If you do need to move, it should have a purpose.  For example, walk confidently to the front of the room before you begin speaking and walk with purpose to the flipchart or to the computer.
  • Shifting from your weight from one foot to the other.  Many people do this unconsciously and sometimes because their feet hurt. Instead, stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor, with your weight equally distributed on both feet.

POSTURE

  • Standing too stiffly.  Yes, you should stand up straight but it should be natural, not like you are frozen at attention.  Keep your shoulders back and hold your head up so you can make eye contact.  This posture conveys confidence and helps you breathe more fully.
  • Slouching and keeping your head down.  Not only does it prevent you from looking at the audience, but it also conveys nervousness and makes it harder for the audience to hear you.

Interactive Presentation Skills

Audience interaction makes a presentation more interesting and easier on everyone. It’s helpful to have strategies to get the audience involved early and often. People will pay attention if they know that at some point, they’ll have to participate. And providing the audience the opportunity to interact with each other adds a peer learning dimension to a presentation.

Following are few strategies you can utilize to make your sessions interactive:

Ask for interaction

Start your presentation by telling the audience you want their questions and that you expect interaction. Tell them when you’d like them to ask, and if you’ll have designated times for it.

This will help keep them paying attention and coming up with questions they want to ask you. If you’re speaking at a larger venue, like a conference,

Communicate don’t merely talk to the participants

It has to be a two way process; don’t read out or merely articulate the points on a slide; give examples to illustrate; get them to write/ read/ respond/ reflect/share

Get participants engaged 

Ask questions and get a meaningful reply, throw up challenges; get a volunteer to illustrate on the board or white paper; quiz them, play a game, give them some assignment to do before the breaks, form groups and get them to do a group work.

Encouragement / rewards get them interested 

Be patient, be positive, enable participants to be comfortable by giving them hints and clues to the answers you seek, NEVER be disparaging or sarcastic. If possible introduce some small inducements like giving out something for right answers.

Have variety inbuilt in the program 

A typical day long session would be broadly divided into 4 sessions. The biggest challenge is the post lunch session. Ensure that there is maximum participation in this session by less theoretical inputs and having ample activities and games. The ideal situation is where all key learning points can be illustrated by the participants themselves through an exercise/ game/ activity.

Learn to use humor effectively

Humor is a key ingredient that spurs interest, reinforces learning and grabs the attention of participants. However using humor is tricky because sometimes the gags/ jokes may fall flat, they could be used inappropriately, it could be irrelevant at times and sometimes it could be to caustic and alienate the participant. It is essential that you prepare, practice and then use humour. Once you get the hang of using it well it is one of the most effective means of engaging participants.

Conducting an interactive session is very important to create an effective rapport between the trainer and the audience. Interactive sessions help to create a bridge of communication and confidence between the participants and the trainer. An interactive session helps in a lot of other ways to make the training more effective. Interactive session helps to gain productive information on the interests of the audience and their activities to create effective training modules as per their needs.

How to Develop Voice Quality

A positive impression can be created initially with good dressing and grooming in the minds of the audience. However, if your voice is squeaky, your words meaningless, or your voice too loud, then their positive impression quickly will become negative. When you speak, your voice is the primary link between you and your listeners. So if you would like to develop a perfect speaking voice, start with the steps below.

Speak loudly

It’s important to be heard when you speak, so raise your voice! However, this doesn’t mean you should shout – rather, you should vary the loudness of your speech depending on the situation. But, if you tend to whisper, mumble or speak with your head down it is much easier for people to talk over you or ignore you.

Adjust you pace of speaking

It’s important to slow down your speech by saying your words more slowly and pausing between sentences.  Speaking too quickly is a bad habit and it can be difficult for people to keep up with you or even understand what you’re saying. This makes it easy for them to tune out and stop listening. The ideal speaking rate is somewhere between 120 to 160 words per minute.

Speak clearly

Make sure to open your mouth, loosen your lips and keep your tongue and teeth in the correct position as you speak. Speaking clearly is possibly the most important aspect of developing a good speaking voice. You need to pay close attention to each and every word you say – pronouncing it fully and correctly. Some commonly mispronounced or poorly articulated words include saying “gonna” instead of “going to”, saying “axe” instead of “ask”,  or saying “jist” instead of “just”.

Practice deep breathing

Practice your breathing by inhaling deeply, allowing the air to fill your belly. Breathe in for a count of 5 seconds, then exhale for another 5. Get used to this method of breathing, then try to work it into your everyday speech. Try to breathe at the end of every sentence – if you use the deep breathing method, you should have enough air to get through the next sentence without having to pause for breath. This will also give your listeners a chance to absorb what you’re saying.

Practice loud reading

In order to work on pronunciation, pace and volume, it is a good idea to practice reading aloud. Keep practising until you are happy with what you hear. Then try to employ the same techniques as part of your everyday speech.

Record your own speech

Recording your own speech can help you to pick up on any faults that you wouldn’t normally pick up on, such as mispronunciations and speed or pitch problems. Though most people don’t like listening to the sound of their own voices, it’s a good idea to record yourself speaking.

Smile while you speak

A good way to make your tone more friendly and warm is to smile while you speak. Smiling can help people judge your content of the speech more favorably. Avoid grinning as it can mean something else but even a slight upturn of the corners of your mouth can make the sound of your voice more appealing – even over the phone.

Business Emails – Common Mistakes in Emails

As email is the most common way of non-verbal communication so its very important to keep on mind that whether you write an email to your best friend or a potential employer, a certain level of protocol must be maintained. Avoid being so casual that you neglect the appearance of your email. A page that is filled with mistakes can be very off-putting to readers if they are used to a good level of English.

  1. Forgetting to use a greeting or closing

Always open with a greeting when beginning a conversation. Otherwise, your email will come off as terse and demanding.

  1. Being too formal

Your email opening should always reflect your relationship with that person. While formality remains crucial to professionalism, if you’re emailing a client you call by their first name in person, don’t revert to an honorific, such as Mr. or Mrs., in the email.

  1. Becoming too informal too quickly

Always start a conversation politely and formally, and follow the other person’s lead. While an email thread can swiftly become short and friendly, starting off too informally – for example, saying “Hey Neha” instead of “Hello Ms. Chopra” to a new contact – may seem disrespectful.

  1. Saying “to whom it may concern”

It shows you haven’t done your homework. It’s so easy to find out who you need to talk to if you put in a little effort. Taking the time to include a name will make your email feel more personal and less generic. If you can’t find a specific name, try something like ”To the consumer affairs department” or “Dear hiring manager.”

  1. Forgetting to change the subject line

Most people forget about the subject line, one of the most important parts of any work email. Every time you begin discussing a new topic, change the subject line of your email thread to make your conversations easy to locate in the future.

  1. Not paying attention to detail

Small details speak volumes in email. Always be sure to spell names correctly and double check for typos. Additionally, never put names in all lowercase or all caps either. It makes it look as though you didn’t care enough to properly format their name.

  1. Including too many personal details  

No one wants to read through more than they need to, so keep emails concise and leave out personal details. Save your personal updates for another time.

  1. Saying something over email that should be done face-to-face

Some things, such as offering criticism, can’t be said over email without creating a misunderstanding. Learn to recognize these situations, and pick up the phone or walk over instead of sending an email.

  1. Using emojis or abbreviations

Emojis and abbreviations are generally unprofessional in business emails. Leave out the smiley faces and LOLs, and be sure to spell out words like “appointment” instead of writing “appt” if you’re writing to your boss or a client, which shows that you’re taking adequate time to respond to their email instead of using quick shortcuts.

Location of Presentations

If you are presenting in a familiar setting (for example, within your own organization) the room and its layout will be familiar. However, you may be presenting at a location that you have never seen before – the boardroom of a host organization, a hotel suite, or an exhibition, for instance. Where this is the case it is important to plan your arrival at the venue well ahead of time.

Whether the presentation venue is known to you or not, there are key questions you need to ask the person organizing the event to ensure that you are properly prepared for the task and understand how to maximize the influence of the venue. It is always advisable to visit the venue’s website prior to your call as this may prompt more detailed questions, such as:

• How easy is the venue to get to by car, rail, or air?

• Does the image of the venue match / suit your audience?

• With regard to the room:
o What is its capacity?
o What floor plan options are available?
o What presentation facilities are available?
o Where are electric sockets?
o Will you need extensions for your electric cables/wires?
o Do you have control over the lighting and heating of the room?

• What types of events are going on in adjacent rooms at that time?

The venue will set the mood for your presentation. An informal gathering in a small cheerful office will create a very different mood to a large conference room in a hotel. There are logistics involved when traveling to a remote location that you need to think carefully about and plan for – for example, organizing any travel tickets, pre-event accommodation, any specialist equipment, support materials, appropriate clothes, etc.

When presenting at an external location you should try to pre-arrange access to the room in which you will be presenting. Even if it is being used immediately before your slot you could try and gain access to this event, as it is important to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. If you are unable to get there early, then you should contact the venue in advance and request a copy of the floor plan, and ask if any specific seating plan has been requested for that day. If it is your own event you can ask what seating arrangement options they offer and select the one most suited to your presentation aim and the size of your audience. It is often wise to ask what events are going on in the adjacent rooms so that you know the atmosphere will be appropriate to your needs. You don’t want to find your room is next to a party when you are giving a business presentation! Always build in some contingency as a safety factor to allow for any unforeseen travel, accommodation, or venue problems.

Presenter Effectiveness

An effective presenter needs to be flexible, energetic and enthusiastic. The following guidelines will help you to enhance your effectiveness as a presenter.

Making a presentation puts you on public display. An audience not only listens to your ideas, it also responds to the way you use your voice and your body. You need more than a well written presentation to make an impact. You will also need to deliver it in a lively, flexible and interesting way. In this leaflet we suggest many ideas for invoking energy in your presentation style.

To begin with, imagine that you are in the audience for your presentation. What might:

  • Grab your attention?
  • Stimulate your imagination?
  • Inspire your confidence?
  • Develop your understanding?

Effective presentation skills are required to provide information, give instruction, sell a plan or idea, or accomplish a combination of these things. Through words and visual aids, a presentation performs a service to the listener. A carefully worded presentation can translate facts, trends, or statistics into basic relationships that will influence policy or actions.

Rudyard Kipling said that “Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.” After the objective of the presentation has been established, the general form of the presentation must be considered. The message should be communicated in as few words and using as few visual aids as necessary to present a plan or idea effectively. A concise, convincing presentation of 10-minutes’ duration may accomplish readily the desired objective – and be more economical – than one lasting an hour. In other words, the effectiveness of the presentation depends more upon the soundness of the message than its length, the presenter’s skill in delivery, or the quality of the visual aids. However, too long a presentation, lack of skill in its delivery, and/or poor visual aids could spell disaster.

Continuously explore your personal style using any or all of the above suggestions in different combinations for different effects. Above all, remember two main points:

  • Be yourself— even in the most formal of surroundings you will need to be yourself. No one will be impressed if you try to perform like a classical actor or act like a stand-up comedian;
  • Avoid any behavior that might be off-putting to your audience— always be deliberate and clear in your use of your voice and physical actions.

Finally we can say that an effective presenter makes the best use of the relationship between the him/her  and the audience. It takes full consideration of the audience’s needs in order to capture their interest, develop their understanding, inspire their confidence and achieve the presenter’s objectives and that’s what a presenter’s effectiveness is all about.

Grow your Vocabulary

“The truth was suppressed by the members of the Jury.”

“He deceived me although he was in good terms with me.”

The words in bold letters are different in nature from each other. One may be a verb, one may be adverb etc. but they are different in their meanings. Each word has its own importance  that suits the sentence according to the structure.

The term “vocabulary” has a special as well as a general meaning. True, all vocabularies are grounded in the everyday words of the language, out of which grow the special vocabularies, but each such specialized group possesses a number of words of peculiar value for its own objects. These words may be used in other vocabularies also, but the fact that they are suited to a unique order of expression marks them as of special value to a particular craft or calling.

In this respect the public speaker differs not at all from the poet, the novelist, the scientist, the traveler. He must add to his everyday stock, words of value for the public presentation of thought. “A study of the discourses of effective orators discloses the fact that they have a fondness for words signifying power, largeness, speed, action, color, light, and all their opposites. They frequently employ words expressive of the various emotions. Descriptive words, adjectives used in fresh relations with nouns, and apt epithets, are freely employed. Indeed, the nature of public speech permits the use of mildly exaggerated words which, by the time they have reached the hearer’s judgment, will leave only a just impression.

Ways to improve vocabulary can be:-

  1. Start by learning practical vocabulary.  Learn words that are actually important to you at work, at home and out and about.  Use stick it notes and label things around your home.
  2. Expose yourself to as much English as possible by reading, watching the TV, films or the news and listening to the radio or music.
  3. Read an English magazine. If you can afford it take out a subscription to a magazine or newspaper.
  4. Try to memorize whole sentences, not just individual words. When you have learnt a word, write about it in context.
  5. Create or play word games. Scrabble, Crossword Puzzles, Hangman etc. are all great ways to play with words.
  6. When you know you need to learn a particular word list for a test, start using the words immediately.
  7. Keep a notebook to help you remember what you’ve learnt.
  8. Build a vocabulary web to organize your vocabulary about certain subjects like your personal life, professional life, family friends and relatives etc.

Basic, Intermediate & Advanced Topics for GDs

Generally, a GD is a methodology used by an organization to gauge whether the candidate has got certain personality traits and/or skills that it desires in its members. A 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. 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.

A Group Discussion or GD, as it is popularly known, judges the personality of a person. It assesses the behavioural traits in a person his or her leadership skills, social skills, team skills, problem solving skills and presence of mind.

If we analyse the two words Group and Discussion. ‘Group’ means a number of individuals and ‘Discussion’ means exchanging information on a certain topic and coming to a concrete conclusion.

While entrance exams test the candidates for their academics and knowledge of subjects, the GD will test one for their soft skills and their ability to cope with various situations.

GD also serves as a mass-elimination tool. When there are many candidates applying for limited seats, the GD can act as a benchmark to select the best among the lot.

So that’s why we can segregate GD topics into three parts namely Basic, Intermediate & Advanced:

Basic – These topics are meant for participants with basic knowledge of English communication or general knowledge or process or product knowledge. That’s the reason these topics are suitable for the first time speaker of English language or who has minimum comprehension and presentation skills.

E.g:- Love marriage Or Arranged marriage, Is Mobile a bane or a boon? Etc.

Intermediate – This level is appropriate for participants who have intermediate or medium level of understanding, comprehension and presentation skills of English as well as subject knowledge.

E.g:- Are women better managers?, Impact of advertisement on children etc.

Advance – Advance topics of GDs are made according to high intellectual and critical thinking level of participants. These topics are mainly given for job selections which require top notch skills of reasoning and presentation skills.

E.g.:- Management vs Employees, Professional or Personal at workplace etc.

Hence, we can say that Group Discussion is an invigorative discussion where a topic is analysed and discussed, and in the end, the members come to a fair conclusion. It involves team work, but at the same time, it portrays individual personalities.

Getting Ready for Presentation

Your pulse is racing, your palms are sweating and your knees are knocking as you step up to the microphone. You clear your throat, glimpse down at your notes, and feel all eyes focused on you. Your mind goes blank. You can’t remember how you wanted to start. Your heart pounds in your chest so loudly you’re sure the audience can hear it, and you swear to yourself you’ll never give a presentation again. And then you wake up.

As a leader or manager, you are going to give a presentation to a meeting, team, suppliers, customers and even maybe the general public at some point.

For many presenting is a real challenge. In fact some claim that presenting is the thing people fear most. Interestingly it is also claimed that death is number 6 on the things people fear most.

Fear of speaking isn’t a chronic, untreatable disease. While you may never avoid a flutter of nerves, you can learn to manage them at a comfortable level. The best, most fool-proof way to become comfortable and confident in the spotlight is to practice. Forget the old, inaccurate adage “practice makes perfect.” Practice makes prepared.

And yes, it’s true: The secret behind those speakers we label as “naturals” is preparation. There is no such thing as a born speaker, which means that you have the opportunity to improve your speaking skills no matter what your experience is.

So when you are getting ready to deliver a presentation, how can you get in the zone and deliver at your best time and time again? The truth is it will vary from person to person but here are a few options to consider.

  • Take a Brisk Walk

Now this might not work for everyone but what I have found that taking a brisk walk is a great way of getting in the zone. If possible give it a try.

  • Do Some Tongue Twisters

It is really easy to get tongue tied in a presentation. Using tongue twisters can be a great way of reducing the risk of getting tongue tied. Basically you repeat a phrase over and over, getting faster each time. Two of my favourites are ‘Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Pepper’ and ‘She Sells Sea Shells on the Sea Shore’.

  • Deep Breathing

Taking a really deep breath in and exhaling slowly can slow down your heart rate and calm you down. This is really helpful if you know that you have a tendency to gallop through your presentation.

  • Visualisation

Many people mentally go through and visualise themselves giving a great presentation. This is very common in sports but can be applied just as well to presentation preparation.

 

The truth is there is no right or wrong way to prepare for delivering a presentation and the key is to find what works best for you.

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