As an academic transcription service provider, we offer affordable audio transcription solutions for students preparing dissertations and theses. One thing that most students worry about is their defense – the presenting, explaining and defending of the ideas put forward in their dissertation. Defending your work before a committee of experts is less likely to be a daunting experience when you know what to expect and prepare well. Here are some expert tips for a successful dissertation defense.
- Know the focus of the presentation: The focus of a final dissertation presentation would on the results of the data analysis, interpretations of the findings, recommendations, and limitations of the study. It can also include the implications for practice, future research, and social change.
- Prepare, practice: There is no doubt that nobody knows your topic as well as you do as you have researched on it. Nevertheless, you need to review your work so that you will be prepared to answer any questions that come up. In a week or two before your defense, read your entire dissertation with a critical eye and refresh your memory about what you did. Stick to the main points when discussing your work before the committee. Practice your speech, especially the pace – make sure you talk clearly and with confidence. One widely recommended strategy to practice is giving mock presentations in front of friends or family.
Attending the defenses of colleagues or defenses in other departments can also help as it provides that opportunity to observe student interactions with the committee members and hear the types of questions you may face. Speaking with people who have already defended their dissertation can help you understand what to expect. The experiences of other students will provide insight on what to do and what not to do.
- Communicate with the committee members: Knowing your audience will give you a better idea of what to expect. An article published by the American Psychological Association recommends that students communicate regularly with their committee about how their research is progressing as well as on any revisions made on the proposal. They can consult them on matters like whether they need to alter their methodology or circulate drafts and get advance feedback if possible. This will also provide some valuable insight into the types of questions that might be asked during the defense. You should be prepared to answer questions such as what you plan to do with the thesis after graduation and whether you plan further research on the topic.
- Pay attention to the presentation: Prepare a concise, logical presentation that clearly states the research problem, objectives, approaches, and the contributions of your work. Slides can help support your verbal communication. Ensure that your slides have succinct bulleted information and not long blocks of narrative text. Avoid loud colors and clutter on the slides. Prepare notes, but don’t read them out – use the outline as guide while you are speaking. Generally, a good strategy is to have a set of notes for each slide so that when you reach a new page it will remind you to move to a new slide. Distributing presentation copies will help in the event of a technical failure.
- Stay focused and confident: You are presenting before a highly credentialed faculty thesis committee, your advisor, and other audience members. Focus and listen carefully to the questions put to you. Think before you answer and give solid responses, rather than quick ones. You should expect more questions on the controversial aspects of your work. If you don’t have the answer to a question, you can say that the question is interesting and will look into it in future. Never fake a reply. Speak confidently and in a professional manner.
- Dress professionally: Wear clothes that are presentable and comfortable. Most modern universities don’t have a dress code, but a dissertation defense is an occasion that calls for professional attire. Have your clothes ready in advance of the big day so that you don’t have to worry about them the day before the presentation.
- Know and follow the rules: Graduate schools have rules and deadlines with regards to a defense. These formal procedures and regulations vary by institution. Know the rules and follow them.
Academic transcription service providers help students complete their research documentation tasks accurately and in a timely manner. When it comes to their dissertation defense, students should know what to expect and deliver their presentation effectively. Always remember that the committee wants you to succeed in your defending. So relax – get some sleep, go for a walk, eat properly, and chat with friends before your presentation. This will prevent anxiety from taking over.
An article published by the American Psychological Association cites Dr Julia Sluzenski who earned her doctorate in cognitive psychology from Temple University, as saying, “The best advice I got before my defense was to enjoy myself. Because it’s not every day that you have a roomful of scholars completely interested in what you have to say – it’s something special you should enjoy”.