Difference Between Group Discussion and Debate (With Table)

Most of us remember that there were thousands of competitions in our school times. We used to participate in many activities, such as singing, dancing, acting, group discussions, debates, sports, etc.

Group Discussion vs Debate

The difference between group discussion and debate is the group discussion is more of a group activity. Either the whole group wins or the whole group loses. On the other hand, in the debate, there is an individual winner. 

Group discussion is an activity that is done in a group. The whole group is assigned a certain topic. Then the bunches of people go around the table and discuss this topic. All of them put their viewpoints. Everyone’s viewpoint is heard.

The debate is an activity that usually happens between two individuals. It can also happen between the two groups. In a debate, the individuals are given a topic. One speaks for the topic and the other one speaks against the topic. The two groups ‘debate’ on who is right. In the end, one is declared the winner.

Comparison Table Between Group Discussion and Debate

Parameter of ComparisonGroup DiscussionDebate
Type of activityGroupIndividual
Topic divisionAll the group members get the same topic.One individual gets to speak for the topic and the other one against the topic.
What skills are requiredCritical communication skills, public speaking skills, ability to interact with other people’s opinionsCritical communication skills, public speaking skills, ability to concisely say why you are right
Where is it doneMany organizations conduct a group discussion as a part of their interviewing process. Even the army conducts group discussions to assess certain skills.It is mostly done in competitions, parliamentary debates, or big panel talks like the presidential debate in the USA.
Length (in minutes)10-40 minutes30-100 minutes

What is Group Discussion?

A group discussion is an activity which is done in ‘groups’. The group gets into a ‘discussion’ and discusses the topic. The term group discussion is self-explanatory. A group plus discussion.

In a group discussion, a team of 5-10 individuals gets together. They might be assigned a topic from the observer. Then they are given a time-limit, for example, 40 minutes. In 40 minutes, the whole group has to discuss the topic. Each member is expected to contribute to the discussion.

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Group discussions are used by organizations and institutions. The GD (Group Discussion) is an effective way of assessing their interpersonal skills, their ability to listen, their ability to effectively contribute to the discussion. GD also helps in assessing the leadership, managerial, problem-solving, and creative skills of the candidate.

Group discussion is such an effective tool in picking the right candidate because it involves a group of people discussing something. In a group, some people ought to stand out better than others. That helps the company shortlist candidates quickly.  Group discussion can also be done at a societal level to fight societal stigma. GD can also help in increasing the awareness of the participating members.

A group discussion isn’t harmful when it is done in moderation and there is a panel to control the group members. Otherwise, the members may start fighting on who’s right and wrong. 

What is Debate?

A debate is an activity that is usually done between two individuals. The individuals ‘debate’ on a given topic and fight to prove themselves right. These individuals can also be the speakers for a whole team. Instead of the whole team speaking, the speakers come forward and debate.

In a debate, the individuals are both given the same topic. One has to speak in favor of the topic and the other has to speak against it. There is a time limit of 5-10 minutes for opening speeches. Then there are rebuttals.

Rebuttals mean that after both the individuals give their speeches, either one of them can counter what the other candidate said. The end goal of an individual involved in a debate is to win over the other candidate.  The whole session might be limited by the moderators. Some debates are limited to 30 mins, while others can go up to 90-100 minutes. There is no set mark.

Debates are mostly used in competitions and parliaments. They are also used in big panel talks, such as the USA presidential debate. Both the individual’s fight to prove themselves right and the other wrong. Both fight to win. Debates are done to arrive at a common end-point. The British Parliamentary debate is a popular and good way of debating.

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Debates are a perfect way of assessing the speaking skills, presentation skills, and non-verbal skills of individuals.

Main Differences Between Group Discussion and Debate

  1. A group discussion is usually done in groups. On the other hand, a debate is usually between two individuals, which may be representing a whole team.
  2. A group discussion is done to assess certain skills of the individuals. On the other hand, the debate is done to assess how fluently and accurately can the speaker put forward their facts.
  3. A group discussion has a time limit of 10-40 minutes. On the other hand, a debate usually has a time limit of 30-100 minutes.
  4. A group discussion can be done at an institutional to a societal level. On the other hand, a debate can be done at a competition to a parliamentary level.
  5. In a group discussion, all the members argue on the same topic. On the other hand in a debate, the two individuals argue on the same topic but for opposite motions. One is for the topic and the other is against it.


Group discussion and debate both are activities done between individuals. The group discussion is more of a discussion, nobody needs to prove the other wrong. The debate is more of an argument, one needs to prove the other wrong to win. 

Group discussions have their place at the institutional level. They can be done at interviews, in team meetings, etc. GD is also done at the societal level to discuss certain problems. On the other hand, debates have their place at competitions and parliamentary levels. They are usually done between two individuals. One wins the debate and thus secures the prize or the deal for their team, and the other one loses.  


  1. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/2041-210X.12860
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3200/TCHS.78.2.52-56?journalCode=vtch20