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How to Prepare for a PhD Dissertation Defense

The Importance of Your PhD Dissertation Defense

At the end of all your hard work, you will be required to defend the research that you have done in front of your peers. For many this is something that they will approach with great trepidation. Few people like to talk in public, and defending your own research in front of real experts in your own field that will want to pick holes in what you have done can be a real challenge.

This is why you really do need to spend a lot of time and effort in ensuring that your dissertation defense presentation is up to scratch and that you are fully prepared for what may be asked of you. Each institution and even country will approach a defense differently. Yours could be just defending to a board of two professors through to a wider public audience with several professors asking questions of you. Whatever it is that is expected of you, however, you will need to prepare accordingly. All information on how to write a dissertation and ways on how to defend it should be provided by the institution, but the rest is up to you.

How to Prepare for Your Defense of Dissertation

After you have submitted your dissertation there really is no time for you to relax. While you cannot do any more to your paper it is now time to very much concentrate on how you are going to defend it. A poorly defended dissertation could result in you being tasked with a huge number of revisions and even additional research. A successful defense, however, should result in only minor changes, it is very rare that a panel will allow you to escape this ordeal with nothing to do.

phd dissertation defense tips

image credit: aib.edu.au

The following tips will provide you with a good framework to help you with preparing both your presentation and yourself for your defense:

  • Be sure that you know precisely what the format of your defense will be. Every institution differs in some way with regards to the length of your presentation, the makeup of your audience, through to how long they will ask questions for. Make sure that you understand exactly what you are walking into.
  • Don’t leave things to the last minute before you begin your preparations. It can be very easy to fall into the party trap as soon as you have submitted your dissertation, however, you should wait until after your defense before you begin your celebrations.
  • Read and reread your dissertation several times. Re-familiarize yourself with everything that you have done. Also go back to some of your main sources and reread those also.
  • Prepare your presentation:
  • Don’t produce too many or too few slides for your presentation: 100 slides for a 10-minute talk is going to be far too many and 10 will not be enough for 20 minutes.
  • Cover the main points of your research: clearly show why you have done it, why it is important, what impact it will have as well as the usual what you actually did and found.
  • Don’t neglect details on your slides: label axes and try to use the same format throughout.
  • Tell a story: you want your presentation to actually flow so take the time to work on your transitions between slides.
  • Don’t just read the slide: a slide should be a prompt for what you have to say not just a teleprompter for you to read from.
  • Practice. Then practice again. Give your presentation several times to your friends so that you are totally comfortable with what you are doing.
  • Try out the room. walking into a presentation and finding that the projector will not talk to your laptop or some another disaster is avoidable.
  • Prepare for questions. you know the strengths of your research and more than likely you will also know its weaknesses. You will probably know many of the questions that you may be asked and you should prepare for them accordingly. It can also help to prepare additional slides in anticipation of these questions should you need them.

While you are never going to be able to prepare for every question you should be able to answer anything around the core area of your research. If asked something that you really do not know the answer to simply say that you don’t know or explain how you would go about trying to find an answer. Just because someone asks you a difficult question, it does not mean that they have an answer to it either.

We Can Help with Your Dissertation Defense

From coaching you to present your information and answering questions confidently, through to helping you prepare your presentation our specialized services can help you. We offer support through some of the best-qualified PhD coaches that you will find in your field, whether if is law dissertation or dissertation in chemistry, we’re here for you.

So if you want to make your PhD dissertation defense a success get in touch with our experts.

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