There are always two ways to look at any topic: for or against.
Take the example of economic liberalization. It can be argued that it was a very good thing since a number of foreign companies came into the country, bringing technology and efficiency. Employment and growth rate improved. The people could buy all the world class products which earlier had to be smuggled.
On the other hand, it can also be argued that all kinds of non-essential goods came into the country, like hamburgers, fried chicken and soda water. The infrastructure remained poor. There was no fresh growth as the MNCs simply bought the Indian companies. he technology they imported was outdated and most of the goods were so expensive that most people could not buy them. Liberalization was trumpeted to be a good thing since politicians were using it to rake in personal wealth.
Whatever personal views one may have, it is important to know both sides of the argument. If the discussion is heading towards a particular direction, a candidate can take a totally opposite view and consequently will become the centre of the discussion. Of course one must be able to defend one’s viewpoints and therefore the need to have read widely. In the case of liberalization, many people will defend it, since that is the viewpoint most often published in newspapers. If a student can bring in an opposing viewpoint and mention some convincing reasons, there is no reason why he will not be selected.
What matters the most in a GD is whether any meaningful contribution was made by the person. A candidate will score well if he shows leadership qualities, that is, of guiding the group towards a consensus. It is clear that one should have read a lot if he is to exhibit any depth of knowledge. If you have kept up with the newspapers and magazines, it will certainly be of help. Look at the last 12 issues of the current affair magazines and you will find all the likely current topics discussed. Read carefully the debates and argumentative questions and chances are that you will get one of these topics for discussion. Read also items of economic importance and learn the figures of growth rates, GDP, deficits and so on.
The trouble is that most students have not faced anything like the GD before. How is one to speak in a group of 15 strangers in a language we do not usually speak? One way is to read about a topic and then debate with parents, uncles or elder cousins. Tell them to ask you questions and try to trap you. The more you do this, the more clear will your own thoughts become. Of course practice in a larger group can be obtained only by joining a professional institute.
Another way to practice is to tape your speech. Try to speak about a topic for one full minute into the tape recorder. When you listen to the tape, you will be able to spot your mistakes, the points on which you falter and the words which you cannot easily speak. You will also be able to know whether you make any sense or not. Ask your friends to listen to the tape critically. Often, people can discover their weaknesses and speech impairments by this method.
You can also use mirror therapy. Stand before a mirror and speak extempore on any topic. Practice sounding assertive and firm. If you think your voice is soft or shrill, especially for girls, speak loudly in front of the mirror as if you are speaking to a stranger. Have a conversation with yourself. The mirror will tell you whether you have a habit of looking away while speaking. It will tell you about your body language also. These will be invaluable insights for participating in groups. You must look at all the members when addressing them. Looking away will cause you to lose your chance and the other person will carry on without letting you complete. The mirror will also stop you from fidgeting, as many people are prone to do when they are speaking or are nervous. The therapy will be greatly enhanced if you can get your family members or friends to practice with you.