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Hey all! I'm defending my thesis later this week and I was wondering if people had good tips or suggestions- as well as any interesting/hard/good questions their committee asked them :-).

 

Thanks!

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It will of course depend on the specific question at hand and the make up of your committee (cog, development, health, etc).  To that end, keep in mind that the people you present to might not be experts on the topic at hand, or even very knowledgeable on the field itself.  As such the questions you get asked might very well only be related by some tangent, so consider reading up some general papers on the field, a broader understanding of the situations at hand.

 

What most researchers however will know, is good methodology and analysis, and to this end the questions might become very in depth, so know this stuff inside out

 

Consider questions of practical concern "Why should anyone care, what application might this have, what separates this from other research and of course, where does this research go to from here?".

 

Aside from that, just do your best not to be nervous, try and relax, and remember no one is going to know the material as you!

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Thank you! Very helpful. I've only seen one thesis defense and I did very poorly on my thesis proposal, so I'm hoping to be as prepared as possible.

 

If anyone else has any thoughts, I'd appreciate it! :-D

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Don't know how much later is later (haven't been on here in weeks), but one less I learned is have a copy of EVERYTHING! I remember when I had my defense, I had my powerpoint on a flash drive and no where else, and the night before I couldn't find the damn thing and was up unitl 4am remaking it from scratch!

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It may be too late, but practice! Go on a walk and say your whole talk aloud. Practice in front of friends, in front of labmates, etc. I did mine for a local Toastmasters group, who gave some great feedback regarding speaking and presentation skills. By the time I got in the room for the real thing I was comfortable and knew what was coming next on the slides, so could easily get back on track when I was interrupted. I'm not saying memorize it, but be so familiar with it that your tongue may keep moving when your head freezes up.

 

Also, one of the tips from Toastmasters: stand so that, from the audience's perspective, you are to the right of the screen. People read the words on the powerpoint from left to right and then their eyes naturally fall on you. I'd never have thought of that, but it does make sense!

 

Oh, and I don't know your school's culture regarding snacks at defenses, but I decided to provide only bottles of water for my panel. I didn't want to look like I was trying to bribe them, but I also knew we would be in the room for a long time. They seemed very appreciative. Best of luck to you! :)

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Thanks! Still making my slides. Highly unprepared and horrible at oral presentations- so yes, practicing would have been nice :-D. I've been frustrated and overwhelmed by the whole thing for a variety of reasons, some my fault, some not. If I could go back, I'd do things very very differently. But I guess as long as I graduate on time and don't puke on my committee, I'll be able to recover from tomorrow :-)

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