Group Discussion Skills

Skills for Work employability videos

Understanding the differences between positive and negative approaches to participating in group discussions is hugely valuable in a workplace scenario. To facilitate a successful group discussion, it's important to be proactive and ensure that everyone plays a part in maintaining a productive structure. 

Through the use of positive linking language and responses, adult students can practise key language for group discussions with this video and accompanying resources from the Open Mind Skills for Work series.

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Video Worksheet  Teacher's Notes


The aim of this video is to demonstrate 'best practice' for achieving a successful group discussion. Exercises from Pre-intermediate to Advanced levels of Open Mind (and theMind series for American English learners) have been provided in the teacher's notes and worksheet to use alongside the video.

In the first part of the video, we see a group discussing plans for a company awayday. According to the life coach, the discussion lacks focus and the participants are critical and negative; there are too many interruptions, and the counter-arguments lack evidence.

We then see a replay of the interview in which the discussion is managed more effectively. The life coach points out that the contributions are now more positive and proactive, and she highlights some good examples of linking language and responses.

Encouraging positive group discussions

Group discussions which are badly facilitated and lacking in structure can result in moving across a variety of issues without any being properly discussed. To keep the discussion flowing, it's important that everyone plays a part in maintaining a productive structure:

  • Contributions to a discussion should be proactive rather than critical and backed up with evidence and reflection
  • Discussion can be robust but should always be respectful, even when you disagree when someone's ideas
  • Good listening as well as good contributions make for healthy and balanced debate

A group discussion with more positive language and attitudes leads to a more productive outcome.

  • Try using linking language and praises such as the examples below to move the conversation forward:
    "perhaps we can begin ..."

    "the next point to discuss is ..."
  • Responses such as "good idea" and "I agree" help support others' contributions and create a team atmosphere