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10 Ways To Successfully Defend Your PhD

Doctoral dissertation defense showtime

❶Video or audio taping of your doctoral dissertation defense will help you to improve the speech and behaviour in the future, especially, if you plan to publish your paper. Therefore, when you are answering questions, keep your cool and relax.

The Role of PhD Committee Members

How to defend a dissertation and succeed with graduation?


Were they enthusiastic and sincere? Did they keep the energy throughout the talk? Were there some rough areas of the talk? When nerves are running high, talks may not go as expected. You can battle this nervousness by showing up well-prepared.

If you are, the thesis defense talk is just a formality. If you cannot obtain any thesis defense talks on video, make sure that you go to actual public thesis defense talks. At least go to one so that you have a good idea of how to TIE the whole story together and give your audience the big picture. Keep in mind that you are giving a talk to a general audience. This means that use of jargon and highly technical terms will only put your audience to sleep.

Make sure it is clear and understandable. Simplify it the best that you can and put it in the larger context of your research field. Use cartoons or model slides if necessary to give your audience the general, overall picture.

Have others that are familiar with your work drill you with questions. It also builds your confidence. And the questions that your labmates or friends ask you may just be the same question you will get asked on your defense day. You may be sick of reading your entire thesis over and over by now, but you need to keep everything fresh in your mind. I actually read over my entire thesis multiple times during my final two weeks and came up with my own list of questions that I thought my committee would ask me.

In addition, I also came up with a list of questions that I had of my own questions that I was unsure of or that I thought were a weakness of mine. If you cannot come up with a list of good questions, then you are not trying hard enough. And it was a confidence booster in disguise.

Completing your thesis is a huge milestone. Those last two weeks until defense day can be stressful. Keep your guard up until your actual defense day. This is key to giving a good talk. You need to go in with the mindset that you will kill your presentation and give a long lasting impression to your audience. I have actually heard that some people who gave great thesis defense talks were offered a position shortly after i.

You are going to want to do all those little tasks that you have been putting off for so long because you have spent X amount of months writing your thesis in solitude and you had no time to do them.

Your list could be very long. I can tell you that one of the things on my list was to keep publishing blog articles and keep my blog running. I simply did not have enough time. Prioritize and focus on your defense talk and nothing else. If you are looking for jobs during this time period, I will be writing about this in Part 3 of this series. This might be the most difficult thing for anyone. I struggled with this the most while writing my thesis. Skipping meals, late nights, overloading your system with caffeine just to stay awake.

You have to fight it the best that you can. A month before my defense talk, I hit the gym 3x a week for the first time in months. Everyone handles the anxiety of their defense talk differently.

I am someone who thinks about it constantly. So it becomes hard to focus on other things, like taking care of yourself. Once your thesis is turned in to your committee members, during those final two weeks- sleep and a proper diet are KEY. By taking care of yourself, you ensure that you have the highest probability for giving a great thesis defense talk and showing your committee members that you are confident about your project.

You know your topic better than anyone. Because of this, you have no reason to be stressed out. When your committee pushes you and asks you questions, they again will push you to your limits. Remember that they are simply trying to test your knowledge and humble you.

Therefore, when you are answering questions, keep your cool and relax. Answer the questions the best that you can and you should have no problem passing. And in all honesty, the prelim or qualifying exam was much harder than the actual defense….

Although I did have an after-party, I did not go to great efforts to plan it like a wedding party. As I said in 5, prioritize and focus on your thesis defense talk and nothing else.

Once you have passed, then you can change your focus. The feeling is indescribable see A good thesis talk also has a good introduction before going on to the next idea or slide. It should flow in a logical manner and be smooth. Be formal in how you word things i. To give a good introduction, it might be wise to use slides that ask a question in between. Why are you doing this experiment? Many scientists forget that although they are an expert on their topic, what seems easy and understandable to them-does not apply to others outside of their field.

Before you go to your next data slides introduce the idea based on this data I wanted to ask this question. Then tell them WHY you performed this particular experiment which is basically in the form of a question. Once your audience understands why, go on to the next slide and give them your interpretation.

This one is pretty self explanatory. I will say that when it is all said and done, it feels like a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders. It is emotional and you finally feel that all that hard work and time that you put in over the years-was all worth it in the end. Good luck to all those who are preparing for their defense talk in the future! Think about what it will be like to get up in front of a large audience and show everyone how you moved a field forward.

This is YOUR moment to show everyone you are an expert in your field. The more you keep this mentality, the better your talk will be. Keep your cool and relax 7 and everything will be fine. One of my committee members actually read my entire thesis, so you never know. I only suggest rereading your entire thesis to keep the info fresh in your mind, which is more likely to help you think on your feet.

Often overlooked during the last 0. Although some PhD stress is inevitable and depends on how you handle it , keeping your physical health in check helps to keep stress levels low and equips you to handle the mental stress. I did write about this earlier in a previous article http: I just defended and kept coming back to these tips while finishing my talk.

They are incredibly useful, especially to ignore distractions and keep your cool on defense day. Thank you a ton for the post! I agree that you should read over the entire thesis. None of my three committee members really even made it to Chapter 3, but at least I was prepared for broad-level questions.

Here is a post with some tips from my department. I found them useful! A very good structured guidelines. It speacks of the experience of the person who has guided a number of scholars. Thanks a lot for useful tips. I am in the process of writing my dissertation, so I will come back to your post in the late period of my degree. It seems that it will be quite different. The defence is of course open to public so everyone can come.

The Committee always consists of 9 professors including two officially appointed reviewers of your PhD thesis that wrote and shared their reviews before the defence. I am obliged to give a speech summarizing what I have managed to accomplished during 4-year-research.

I have only 20 minutes to do that. That is why it is so stressful. Each professor from the Committee asks questions on average which means that you will be hit by questions.

Here comes the best part. And here we go again. After that you forget what your name is but instead of going to sleep for 5 days you have to go for an official dinner that you pay for with all 9 members of the Committee and continue the chit-chat for like forever.

All mentors become douchebags in our eyes at one point or another during our doctorate, it is their job. With that said, I present in 21 days. I really want to reread my thesis, but every-time I do I find errors.

Ack it is soooo discouraging, just silly typos! It is already turned in. It is driving me nuts, I reread the thing a million times and still more typos!!! Not a confidence builder at this point. I am defending in three days. I am freaking out! I have a committee of four and two of them read and approved my last few chapters and suggested that I move forward. As soon as I set up a defense date, another committee member suggested that I had not gone deep enough and would be hesitant to sign off on my defense for graduation.

Needless to say, my three allotted weeks turned into just four days because I had to rewrite the last three chapters. And I have the same problem of re-reading my thesis and finding errors. It is a necessity though. Omg I totally know the feeling. Think of all possible questions you can get asked and prepare convincing answers.

To succeed in the exam you must prove the progress you have made during your study years. Describe the importance of your topic and make some statements.

You must literally learn your dissertation by heart to be able to answer any question confident without showing doubts. At the day of the dissertation defense, try to stay calm and focused. To show your respect, you need to look professionally.

Wear comfortable and neat clothes which will create a good impression of you. Shoes is another important point. Pick those that will not squeeze your feet and make you feel comfortable. If you find oral presentation too complicated, add some visual information to your dissertation. Video or audio taping of your doctoral dissertation defense will help you to improve the speech and behaviour in the future, especially, if you plan to publish your paper.

If you show your interest and passion about the dissertation, the exam committee will notice your effort guaranteed.


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Fine-Grained Localization in Sensor and Ad-Hoc Networks Ph.D. Dissertation Defense David Goldenberg Dissertation Advisor: Y. Richard Yang Committee Members: Jim Aspnes, A. Stephen Morse, Avi Silberschatz, Nitin Vaidya (UIUC).

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Hints for PhD Defenses. At Columbia, PhD defenses are generally not public, although CS usually allows a student audience. consult with the committee ahead of time as to whether it makes sense to omit some of them for the presentation. Hints for Dissertations. You are likely only to defend a PhD thesis only once; your defense .

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Preparing your Ph.D. Defense PresentationChristian Glahn. Preparing your Ph.D. Defense PresentationChristian Glahn. SlideShare Explore Search You. Upload; Login; Signup; Submit Search My Thesis Defense Presentation David Onoue. Powerpoint presentation M.A. Thesis Defence Catie Chase. Thesis Powerpoint neha Thesis . A doctoral dissertation defense is a public presentation that should be practiced before the exam. Ask some people to listen to your speech and correct you if necessary.