What To Expect in Your Dissertation Defense Presentation

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If you’re approaching the final weeks of your dissertation writing journey, you may be wondering about what to expect in your dissertation defense presentation.

Exactly what happens after you hit the “submit” button, and how can you prepare for that all-important presentation day? Here’s a quick guide to what to expect and how to get psyched and ready.

Will the Manuscript Need More Work?

The quick answer is “yes”: your manuscript will almost certainly need more work.

Now that your research is complete and your final chapter has been drafted, revised, and re-drafted, you are probably looking forward to never writing anything again. Sadly, you probably do have a little bit more writing to do.

Before submission, your dissertation supervisor will hopefully have completed a full read through of all of your chapters, to ensure that everything was complete and coherent before passing it on to the rest of your committee.

When your committee read the draft, they will be looking to make sure your draft is publication ready, and that means they will almost certainly find more things for you to fix. The focus at this stage should be on lower-level items – that small formatting error you missed on p. 89, for example, or those APA citations you weren’t quite sure about and hoped no one would notice.

Now is not the time to stress about these. It is pretty normal for a dissertation to pass with revisions: that means you have been approved to pass your degree, but only on the condition that you tidy up those last few items after your defense. So, wait until after your defense to worry about them – for now, your top priority is making sure your defense itself is solid.

What Happens in The Defense Presentation and How Can You Prepare?

The purpose of your dissertation defense is to present your research to your committee and demonstrate to them your mastery of the field – from research methods to theory to working with and interpreting data.

With the manuscript looking good, you will need to prepare for your defense presentation. The key is preparation and practice (and if you need some help with that, consider coaching!).

Your committee members will have read your draft before the presentation, and they will have prepared questions to ask you. The more of these questions you can anticipate in advance and address in your presentation, the stronger your defense will be.

After your presentation, your committee members will ask questions about areas they feel need clarification (and these questions give a good indication of the types of revisions you might be asked to make).

Finally, your committee members will most likely ask you to leave the room while they discuss your presentation and draft together. They will make a decision about whether you pass, pass with revisions, or need to revise extensively. Learn some techniques for controlling nerves because these few minutes may well feel like hours!

Wrapping Things Up After the Defense Presentation

When your committee members call you back into the room, they’ll let you know the result of your defense.

If you have listened to your chair’s advice and largely satisfied their requirements before getting to this stage, this will almost certainly be a pass with revisions.

Don’t be disappointed or defense about being asked to revise further – remember, this is a normal stage of the process and is designed to ensure your work is the best it can be when it is published to the dissertation database. Thank you committee members for their time and effort, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification about the revisions if you need to.

Need More Help?

Find out how dissertation coaching can help you draft the perfect presentation, calm your public-speaking nerves, and deal with unexpected revision requests. Book a free session today!

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