Dissertation defense: impress your audience with your viva

When defending your dissertation, you want your audience to be as intrigued and pulled into your topic just as much as you were during the research and writing process. You will make your presentation in front of colleagues as if you are the expert on the subject. You need to be precise in making your case and defending your work. To do this, you need to understand important elements of your work others need to know and how to present it in a clear concise way.

  • Prepare in advance for your defense. You can get insight from dissertation committee members and your instructor on what elements of your project will be reviewed. In doing so you get an idea of what questions you may be asked to better interpret your findings. Keep in mind to validate your content with reputable sources for good credibility.
  • Seek tips on how to make your presentation memorable and interesting. Some students like to have hard copies available or a handout for others to follow through during the presentation. You can start off providing information that makes your claim true or why the research was necessary. Share reasons behind why your work is important to the problem or question you worked to provide a solution.
  • Know what you need to focus on during your defense and how to remain calm and collective. Be a good listener when being asked a question about your work. Be honest when you are not sure about a question being asked, but you can provide more insight behind your findings to show interest. Provide clear explanations when answering.
  • Use common questions people may have about your presentation as a guide to help you prepare your material. Such content may include basic details about your dissertation, who influenced your work and what would your next steps be in your research? Such questions will be specific in nature to the work you have completed.
  • Conduct a practice run of your presentation in front of a mirror or with a few friends that can observe you. You can create a draft presentation and do a test trial with someone you know. Ask for an opinion on what they liked, disliked or feel needs clarification.