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Doctoral dissertation defense: Things to remember


You took the mega challenge of doing an original research and writing a doctoral dissertation about it. The powers up there approved it. Now they want you to defend your dissertation in front of a committee. All of it, including the invitation to defend your conclusions, is worthy of applause. The prospect of standing before a committee and an audience, presenting your work, and then answering questions about it can be very intimidating. Most of us mere mortals go into high stress mode during such times.

Here are a few things to remember before your doctoral dissertation defense:

  1. This is your original work. No one knows it better than you. You are the master of the mysteries presented in your dissertation (so to speak). Keep this in mind and repeat whenever you start to panic.
  2. Practice: Practice 4 to 5 times with different people. One dressed rehearsal can make a huge difference. This will get you some valuable feedback from experienced colleagues to tweak and improve on your presentation and presenting style.
  3. Organize your presentation so that you have just a healthy number of cleanly made slides. Avoid too many or cluttered slides. Check and recheck the sequence of your slides. You do not want nasty surprises on your big day!
  4. Reread your work. Maybe starting from the beginning and reading through to the end cannot be done, so just go through whichever parts are more important. Skim through the headings etc.
  5. Remember to have your outfit ready. It is your day to shine. It is an occasion when all eyes are going to be on you. Why not look your best. You need to look super best. In addition to that, looking good gives you a confidence boost. So dress up, you need all the confidence you can get.
  6. Visit the venue. If you are not familiar with the venue of your dissertation, this is the time to be acquainted. Find out about the best route for a comfortable journey. Otherwise, you stand the chance of wasting a lot of time on the morning of your defense.
  7. Relax, relax, and relax: The importance of keeping calm cannot be overstated. You know that the defense is going to take place either way. Try keeping your daily routine intact in the days before your defense. Sleep well. A bit of herb tea before bed can help you sleep better. Hot baths are also a great cure for insomnia.

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