What is required to give a successful Ph.D. defense? You need to prepare hard, keep your stress levels in control and ensure that you chances of sailing through it are the maximum.
A very vital trait of a Ph.D. defense is that it’s uniquely unpredictable. You can only control that bit part of it which you can prepare. That is your talk and your presentation. It is impossible to be proactive about all the endless possibility of questions that would be shot at you. A thesis usually is close to two hundred pages and the committee has the job and the freedom to find an error on any page or grill you with the interpretation or meaning of any word on any of the page. When your work is an outcome of your hard work and carries the seal of quality you are confident to sail through it anyways. Still, there are two tricks that can help you to deal with your Ph.D. defense with a more confident approach:
- Make sure that you have enough practice talks: Do not underestimate how much time it takes for practice and control over the flawless delivery of your content. Most of the researchers let their guard down when they have submitted their thesis as they think that the most difficult part is over. That is a mistake one must not do, as preparing for your defense also requires effort and dedication that is no less than what is needed for writing a thesis. Your preparation must make you sound polished when you deliver. Even if you don’t have each and every word memorized, enough time spent on practice will put you in the flow of talking. To further improvise on the quality of your defense, you may even record your rehearsal to see what your strength areas are and which are the areas that you need to focus upon.
- Give an ear to other defense talks: The more you listen to other Ph.D. defense talks the better prepared you are mentally. It is all the more ideal if the research is on a topic that is similar to your theme. However, if that is not possible, try to see diverse defense presentations of other scholars on youtube or get yourself DVDs. Have a broader vision and a critical perspective when you see these so you can identify what are the good and bad aspects of those talks. The level of energy and confidence that has been exhibited by the presenter should also be noticed by you, to absorb and improvise your talk, wherever you feel the need be.
Best of luck to you!!