A dissertation defense is the last step that you should take in order to get your desired degree. After the paper is approved by your supervisor, you need to prepare for a big discussion and present your work to a dissertation committee. The best way to avoid failing your defense is to follow these simple tips:
Every student knows that it is important to know the audience, but they often fail to keep this in mind while working on their presentations. Find out who the members of the dissertation committee are and make sure that you explain the important stuff to everyone. It is fine to sacrifice some specific details and not to use professional jargon.
Many students review the literature and find something that has not been done before. However, this is not the reason why you should do it. Instead, put your research into the right context and explain why others in the field should care. Prepare to provide solid references if the committee members have any questions.
Experienced speakers recommend telling a story which means that you have to work on transitions. A lack of transitions will not allow your presentation to go smoothly. It is also recommended to leave out all of the details and conclusions that do not fit in the flow of your story. Do not try to talk about everything that you have done.
Obviously, you do not want to ruin your positive impression because of mistakes and misprints. The little details are as important as your research result during the defense, so do not annoy the audience. Make sure to label the axes of any graphs with units; use the same size, text font, and color; and make the images with the same program.
Do not wait until the last minute to start practicing your presentation. Even the most beautiful slides will not help you if you cannot make your story flow. Practice makes perfect, so run the speech in your head, do it out loud, and get feedback from your friends, peers, and your supervisor.
The aforementioned tips will help you get through your dissertation defense. You should also prepare yourself to answer “I do not know” if you do not know the answer. Making something up or guessing is often much worse than admitting that you do not know something.