Submit! Submit your thesis to become future reference.

Defense: Thesis Writing Tips

IIX. DEFENCE (Presentation)

In this section this will focus on the defense or presentation of your thesis. This will help you to pass to your oral defense. You can use this in thesis, research paper, case study and term paper.

Preparation. Here are a few things you can do ahead of time to strengthen your presentation: (1) Prepare a brief outline of key topics to remind yourself of what you intend to cover. (2) Do not exceed the time limit for your presentation portion since you will cut into the professors’ question and answer time. For some people it is helpful to put the number of minutes you plan to spend on that point on the outline itself. (3) Make sure you know how to use the technology necessary for your presentation. Be sure that you have all the necessary materials ready to go. (4) Mentally prepare yourself by spending the 15-20 minutes prior to your defense in a quiet place, breathing deeply and not thinking about your work. Review your thesis thoroughly before the defense; all aspects of your research should be fresh in your mind. (5) Don’t let others stress you out. Well-meaning friends can often put unwelcome pressure on the situation. (6) Finally, remember that you have just spent a year researching your topic. You know the material. (7) Get plenty of rest the night before your defense, and if you practice some type of relaxation technique or mediation, by all means, do it. You will want to look and feel as refreshed as possible, and have the energy and concentration to respond intelligently to the questions posed to you.

Presentation. (1) Send complete requirements. (2) Don’t get caught up in the interactivity! Even if you have created a mammoth interactive system with huge amounts of imagery, sound, etc., your thesis is still about the properties of this system that make it better/different than other options. You will need to use examples from your system to make these points. You don’t need to capture everything the system does in the main part of the thesis document. (3) During the presentation, you shouldn’t read directly off of your outline. (4) Don’t have the symptoms of megalomania.

Voice.  How you use your voice is critical. Here are a few pointers: (1)Watch for volume, clarity, and variety. (2) Take care not to end your sentences with a rising inflection. It implies insecurity. (3) Avoid verbal fillers such as “Uh, umm, like.” If you need a moment to gather your thoughts, simply pause. Pauses make you seem serious and wise, while verbal fillers make you seem unsure of yourself and inarticulate. (4) Talk slowly and breathe often. Your voice lacks power when you are trying to squeeze out the end of a sentence on the same breath.

Stance. You should conduct yourself confidently and professionally, and be well prepared to give a knowledgeable presentation of your work. Your confidence and composure can make all the difference. Even if you don’t feel particularly confident, these strategies can make you sound assured and in control: (1) Stand still, balanced on both feet. (2) Don’t fidget or shift from side to side. (3) Look enthusiastic, confident, and sincere. (4) Gestures should seem natural and fit with what you have to say. Don’t use gestures that give away your nervousness like wringing your hands. (5) Maintain eye contact with slow sweeps of the room. This will create a greater rapport with the audience and let you know that they are following your presentation.

Reply. Questions are probably the most nerve-wracking part of thesis defense, but don’t let them worry you unduly. Remember, you are the expert! Here are a few guidelines to help you field questions: (1) Be careful not to make the question harder than it really is – simple answers are often all that your questioner is looking for. If in doubt, ask for clarification. (2) Don’t roll your eyes or laugh nervously. (3) If you don’t know the answer, don’t bluff. Admit that you don’t know, and if possible spin off to what you do know. (4) Smile your way through your mistakes. (5) Don’t be cruel, insulting, arrogant, and defensive. Don’t rush to answer – pauses can be powerful, and can give you needed time to formulate an answer. Be aware that there will always be someone who disagrees with your stance. That’s what makes life interesting. That’s also what makes essays interesting. (6) However, don’t forget that this is your opportunity to shine; you are the expert concerning your research. (7) Always back up with evidence.

Psychology of the Panelist. (1) “Uh oh, not another thesis to read…” (2) “What’s this one about?” (3) “Now there must be some corrections…”  (4) “Let’s see, what can I ask the candidate?”

Panelist Process of Asking Questions. (1) What’s this one about? Examiners have little time available, so they want to extract the most juice in the shortest time. Your examiners are busy people.  Examining theses is a chore, but: (a) “It might help me keep up to date with an area of research” (b) “It might inspire me” (c) “I might learn something” (d) ”I might gain a new colleague”. The examiners may have decided before the exam whether to pass you. Has the student made an adequate contribution to knowledge? (2) Then, What questions now spring to mind? (3) Were the questions answered? (4) …read through… (5) Return Step 2.

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