What are the scariest moments of a student’s life? Viva sessions win hands down. Nothing can instill as much fear! After burning the midnight oil in the hope and dream of a doctorate, you don’t want it all to come crashing down in a few questions. Take a break is something everybody advices.
Here are few other tips to avoid sounding like you are held at gunpoint.
#1 Read beyond your dissertation paper
Most doctoral students make this mistake. Being thorough with your research papers is not enough. Questions are usually asked to gauge your knowledge about the subject. If there is a long gap between submitting your papers and your defense, ensure you are clued into the latest facts and stats. Set a day aside to read up on your subject to appear updated and completely in-charge.
#2 Know your table
Though reading up and researching about all the committee members may seem to carry it a bit too far, try to at least Google their names. Having a bit of an idea of who sits on the other side of the fence, can help you relax and also give you a ballpark of what to expect.
#3 Shorten your presentation
Give a crisp and to the point presentation. You don’t want your committee to feel bored and mildly irritated before the q&a session. Plan all the points that are pertinent before hand. Cut down on the number of slides you use and keep it brief without sounding sketchy.
#4 Be honest
Tiptoeing around a question can be more frustrating than not answering it. If there is an answer you don’t know, admit that you cannot answer it on the spot but will certainly read up on it.
#5 Publish your work in journals
This adds credibility to your research. Try to wriggle your way into a few well known journals, or your campus magazine. Nothing can give as much credence as the printed word. And it is one way of saving you from the brutality and awkwardness that most students suffer from during a viva voce.
#6 Dictate the important points
Dictate into a recorder all the important points that you are going to present. And information on questions that are most likely to be asked. It is better to transcribe the recordings, to be able to go through it quickly. Listening repeatedly to a recording can put a strain on both your ears and your recording.