The majority of graduate colleges require that a thesis paper be completed in order to fulfill all requirements. Once a thesis is written the student must complete an oral defense. This is the student's chance to explain the paper and research that was conducted and answer any questions from a panel of professors.
Be prepared. Be sure that you are confident in your research and the knowledge of the material. Practice in front of friends and relatives prior to your real defense.
Summarize each chapter of your thesis. Explain any obstacles or unexpected results that occurred. Visual aids are a huge help. Not only do they help the audience understand the material, they are great reminders for you to remember key points and important information. Good examples of visuals aids include a power point presentation with graphs and charts.
Listen to questions. Once you have presented your thesis, the panel of professors is then allowed to ask any questions that they may have. They may ask about any part of your thesis from the initial proposal to your resources. There is usually no time limit put on this part of the defense.
Grasp what is being asked. Be sure that you understand each question before you answer it. This will eliminate any confusion and you will appear well prepared.
Be honest. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply reply by saying,"I do not know, but I will find the answer for you." Since you are in front of a group of professionals they more than likely know the answer and are simply testing your knowledge.
Await the results calmly. Once all questions have been answered you will be asked to step out of the room while the committee evaluates the defense and comes to a decision. This is the hardest part of all, simply awaiting your fate. You are then asked to come back in and you are given your overall evaluation and asked to make changes if necessary.
- Dress professionally but comfortably.
- Practice in front of different groups of people and ask them to ask questions. This is great to do with fellow students.
- Remain calm, well composed, and prepared.