How To Impress The Committee At The PhD Dissertation Defense

When you are facing a dissertation defense you follow these tips:

  • It is important to know that you really are an expert in your field. You have lived with your project for years, so do not doubt what you know at this juncture. You have thought about every possible aspect to your topic, you have discussed it countless times, you have written about it, and you have worried about it on a regular basis for years. So you know your topic inside and out and should not be fearful of a committee defense.
  • You should know when to shut up though. Just because you are nervous does not mean you should lie or ramble. Know when to simply tell them that you don’t know or are unsure. If that is the truth, stick with it. You do not want to start floundering and find that you are unable to get back on track.
  • Remember that your committee is also going through a performance. They are performing for their audience in much the same way as you are performing for them. If you keep this idea in the back of your mind, you will find that the defense is much less intimidating.
  • Try and keep things simple. When you summarize your project just be simple in telling them actual facts. Explain the project. Explain the question you proposed. Explain the research that you conducted. That is it. Remember that the committee members are experts and they have survived a defense themselves. So you are better off just engaging them in the question that they actually asked rather than trying to lead them off point like a politician.
  • If you do not know something, just say so. Do not be afraid of telling the committee that you do not know something. Just because you are an expert in your field does not mean that you are expected to know everything.
  • Make sure you sleep the night before. If you stay up worrying all night, it is quite bad for you. You will only end up stressed and tired the day of the review and you will find that you are groggy at best. If you get a good nights’ sleep and eat well you will be well prepared for the defense.
  • Finally, be sure to have fun. It will pass and you will get through it. So have fun.

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