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How to Start a Thesis Defense Presentation

How to Start a Thesis Defense Presentation | Quick Tips & Tutorial for your presentations

After months and years of hard work, the moment to wrap things all up is finally here—your thesis defense presentation.

Whether you’re pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate, it’s the final step to that much-deserved achievement. 

A thesis defense requires a lot of prior research and preparation. And as important as its content is, so is how you present it because a stunning design with clear data and text hierarchy plays an immense role in comprehension.

In this article, we’ll explore how you make your thesis defense .

The organization is the key to success. Establishing some previous steps before any project or work is essential for the result to be very positive. And the defense of a thesis could not be less. 

Below, we will develop all the necessary steps to make a thesis defense presentation and we will give you some tips on how to carry them out.

How to Make an Amazing Presentation

Defining the concept of your thesis presentation, structuring your thesis defense presentation, how do you welcome the audience, tell them why you did this thesis, go into the content by explaining your thesis part by part, how to end the defense of the thesis.

After a long time of research and study, the content of your thesis is ready. Now, you have to find the best way to reflect all that effort behind your work. The information comes across more clearly if you use a visual format, as it attracts the attention of the audience. To present your thesis information in a clear, concise, and ultimately amazing way, you can use one of our unique thesis defense templates , available at Slidesgo.

As an example, in this article, we are going to use the Ecology Thesis template . With it, we will show you what to include in your presentation and how to make an attractive design.

After choosing the Google Slides and PowerPoint template that best suits the needs and subject matter of your thesis, it is time to define an overarching concept.

This is the main theme on which your designs are based. It must be relevant to your thesis as its purpose is to guide your selection of colors, typography, images, style, etc. 

These must be portrayed in a way that supports the main message of your slides and should be aligned with your concept both visually and sociologically.

Once you have defined the concept, you will have to move on to the next step: structuring the content of your thesis. A good structure will show that there is a good organization behind the work, but most importantly: it will highlight your content.

In this article, we are going to show you a structure that could be a good example of how to structure a thesis, but you can adapt it to what your specific content requires.

Before you begin your thesis defense, you should welcome your audience. A good presentation will make you connect with your audience, which will result in more general interest in your work.

Use an appropriate language register (avoid informal language), but be approachable and natural.

"Welcome to the thesis defense on [the title of your thesis]". Next, introduce yourself with your name and give a short description of your background and occupation.

Don't forget to say “thank you for attending!”

To continue establishing that connection with your audience, explain the reasons that led you to do this thesis. Tell the professional reasons, and you can even say some personal ones, which will denote closeness, and your audience will appreciate it.

Now it's time to go into the content of the thesis ! After these preliminary steps, which are just as important as the thesis itself, it is time to explain part by part the structure (which you had previously established). We are going to propose a structure for your project, but the final decision is always yours!

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

First impressions are very important. Because your title page is the very first thing viewers see, it must be striking and impactful. It also sets the stage for the rest of your slides.

In one glance, the following should be established:

  • Thesis defense topic
  • Design style

For instance, the ecology thesis’s title page uses illustrations of a natural landscape to represent the topic of nature and a striking shade of blue to set the tone.

The sans serif font used depicts clean-cut typography and style and the thesis topic is written in large and bold typography, which draws attention to it immediately.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Right after your title page, include an introduction slide to provide more details about your topic. 

This means explaining what you hope to answer with your research, its importance to your field, and why you chose it.

Continue to incorporate design elements relevant to your concept. This example has done just that by using a different natural landscape and including animals. For coherence, stick to the same typography and style throughout your presentation.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

The aim of the literature review slide is to illustrate your knowledge of your thesis topic and any relevant theories.

Walls of text kill a design. For clarity, we recommend presenting this with bullet points. Each one should be short and sweet and only touch on the basics; you can elaborate on them in your speech. 

Don’t forget to be consistent with your design. In our example, we’ve maintained the tone of blue chosen and added illustrations of leaves in the far corners of the slide. 

Also, address similar research that has been done. This is to showcase your topic’s originality and, if relevant, how it’s different and/or an improvement from previously done research. 

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

This is one of the most important parts of a thesis defense presentation.

It allows your viewers to assess the rationality and validity of your approach and consequently, the accuracy of your results.

A great methodology slide explains the what , how, and why :

  • What method did you use for your research
  • Why did you choose it
  • How did you conduct it

Because this part of your thesis will be rather technical, the most effective way to aid understanding is by using graphics like charts and tables. 

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Keep text to a minimum to avoid drawing attention away from the graphics. If there is a text that must absolutely be included, consider using bullet points and keep them short.

Don’t forget to maintain color, style, and typography coherence.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

The results slides are easily the most quantitative part of a thesis defense. 

Here, your aim is to simply introduce your findings. Select the most impactful data and highlight them here.

Just as with methodology, use graphics like charts, tables, and graphs to portray the data in a clear way. And, once again, try not to write too much text. Let the visual content do the talking .

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

After you’ve introduced your data, the next step would be to help your audience make sense of it. That means understanding what it means in the context of your thesis research topic and your discipline. 

Simply put, you should answer the question: What do the numbers mean?

The best way to approach this would be to do it as if you were creating an infographic . 

Illustrations like icons are a quick and simple way to represent your message. It also reduces the amount of text on your slide, which makes the information much more digestible. 

For a balanced thesis presentation, you should also address any outliers and anomalies.

To quote bestselling author Robin Sharma, “Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”

That’s exactly what to aim for in your conclusion.

Provide an overview of your thesis topic and remind your audience what you set out to answer with your research. In our example, we’ve used three icons accompanied by a short title and text. 

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Following that, reiterate the important points of your research results you want your audience to take away from your thesis defense presentation. 

You can do so by expanding the next slide to have more icons and points, for example.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Don’t forget to address any shortcomings and limitations in your approach and extra points for suggesting possible improvements for future research.

We are going to give you a little tip to make your thesis defense a success. You can combine your defense with good public speaking techniques. Take a look at our article "How to become a great speaker" .

We hope this article has been of great help, have you already seen our templates to make the presentation of your thesis ? Choose the one that best suits your needs, we are sure that one of them will go perfectly with your thesis presentation! 

Good luck from Slidesgo.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

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Home Blog Presentation Ideas How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation

How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Writing a thesis is stressful, but preparing an oral defense can be even more painful. But it doesn’t have to be; with proper preparation and a good presentation, you will be able to better equip yourself comes time to present your thesis defense.

But what makes a good thesis defense?

A proper presentation helps you with your thesis defense because it helps you capture the panels’ attention and gives you cues and reminders on what to say as well.

It also helps keep your data organized while visually looking good and provides a flow structure for the rest of your presentation.

In today’s article, we will be giving you The Right PowerPoint Templates for Your Thesis Defense and a powerful outline composed of best practices and layouts specifically designed to help you defend your thesis in both written and oral presentations.

In the next segments of this article, we’ll walk you through the most feasible process on how to ace this kind of presentation.

Let’s dive into the outline of what makes a great thesis defense.

Thesis Defense Overview


  • Type of Degree

Thesis and Dissertation Distinction Varies on Location

Three most common thesis defense myths, how to use chatgpt to structure your thesis.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Acknowledgements
  • Questions and Answers
  • Contact Information
  • Tips During Your Oral Defense
  • More Quick Tips on How to Present

A thesis defense is composed of two parts – a thesis and a defense.

The thesis, according to Grad School Hub , represents a student’s collective understanding of his or her program and major.

Universities often include a thesis in every course as one of the final requirements to earn a particular graduate or postgraduate degree.

The thesis, however, isn’t just a mere requirement.

It helps the students to grow out of their shell from their respective discipline and give them the opportunity to present all the findings of their study.

Moreover, some people think a thesis is just a long essay, but it’s not. Unlike an essay, a thesis needs to assert something.

This can be considered one of the most crucial research documents that a student makes during their academic schooling .

On the other hand, defense is the presentation of the pieces of evidence to support and prove your research.

It’s the most essential part of the thesis process.

Your presentation has to be prepared to answer questions from members of the committee and any other panel present, and it’s your job to convince them and defend your thesis with ample proof.

Prior to presenting, you have to carefully determine what appropriate evidence should be presented before the panel, depending on what thesis you have to defend.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Thesis and Dissertation Distinguished

A thesis or dissertation is usually required to complete a particular graduate degree. These two words are often used interchangeably by most students when referring to research studies.

But while being almost similar in format or structure, it’s worth noting that they have significant differences that set them apart from each other.

The very reason why thesis and dissertation are treated the same is that these two are both extensive papers. Not just merely long essays like what others are claiming.

Both of these papers are extensive. This is why students are given ample time, usually the entire last semester of the last year of study, to complete all the requirements and finally acquire their degree.

With regards to structure, both papers are very similar with few differences.

Differences Between Thesis and Dissertation

One of the significant differences between the two is to whom the paper is assigned. A thesis is usually required for those students earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While a dissertation is for those, who want to obtain a doctorate degree.

However, not all students taking a master’s degree are required to make a thesis. Prior to their enrollment, they have been given a choice of whether they’ll go for a non-thesis program or with a thesis.

Those who have a plan to escalate their degree to a doctorate eventually should take the path of a thesis. This is to prepare themselves for a more extensive dissertation requirement as doctorate students. Otherwise, they will be only limited to earning a master’s degree.

paths to degrees diagram

But above all, the most significant difference between the two papers is the purpose for which it is written.

A thesis, like what has been mentioned above, is being done by students obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree and has the purpose of testing their understanding of the discipline they’re engaged with.

A thesis is focused on obtaining technical expertise.

On the other hand, a dissertation is made for students to come up with an original study that other researchers haven’t already studied.

Path to a Doctoral Degree

USA: In the United States of America, they consider a thesis shorter than a dissertation. In fact, aside from being a requirement to graduate in college, a thesis is now also inculcated in master’s degree programs. And since the dissertation is more extensive, the thesis is treated as preliminary in gaining a doctorate degree.

Europe: The distinction between the two papers is almost opposite to that of the USA. In Europe, a dissertation is only a broader research study from a post-graduate program and not the making of original research. Instead, educational systems in the said continent treat the doctoral thesis as a more elaborate paper writing.

PPT Template Thesis vs Dissertation

The difference between a thesis and a dissertation might not seem that big, but it’s important that we know what makes them different.

If your upcoming defense gives you pressure and uneasiness, it could be cause you are not sure what to expect. Today we will dispel three common thesis defense myths that will help you be more confident in your presentation.

“Answer all the questions correctly. Otherwise, your thesis won’t get approved.”

You are expected to have a focus on your research.

That being said, you have to study each part of your thesis, every detail, and even your sources.

You have to study and practice how to effectively deliver your presentation.

But don’t overthink to the extent that you’re stressing yourself to know everything perfectly.

Don’t overstress if you can’t answer one of the questions, this doesn’t necessarily mean the committee won’t approve your thesis.

You should know that research is a continuous study.

So you should expect that your committee will always be able to find a gap in your study to fill in future related research .

So in times you don’t exactly know the answer, admit it, and you’ll learn as they give their sides or suggestions.

Making up an answer will only displease your committee, so it’s to be upfront, honest, and transparent.

“The committee is just there to find holes in your study. They don’t care about you.”

One of the typical descriptions students have of the committee is that they are just there to poke holes in your thesis.

Going in with this perspective makes standing before them a nerve-wracking experience.

They’re not your enemy.

In fact, they are there to help you polish your study.

They might challenge you with difficult suggestions and tricky questions.

In the end, they will walk you through the process to come up with better results that won’t only benefit you but also your research.

They care about you and your study, and they’re ultimately there to make your thesis and the research better.  Separate yourself from your work look at it objectively, and don’t take their comments personally .

“If your thesis defense isn’t successful, you have to start your thesis all over again”

An unsuccessful defense is one of the worst-case fears most students have.

One thing that you should be aware of is when you aren’t able to please your committee, you don’t need to start a new thesis again or go back to square one with your existing paper.

It’s unusual that your committee will ask you to change your topic and start from scratch again.

The fact that you’ve been permitted to defend your study means your research is almost complete.

They might suggest further details or ask you for minor revisions, and that’s normal.

But overall, you need to go into this defense thinking that your presentation will be successful. Otherwise, you are already setting yourself up for failure with the wrong mindset.

Remember that positive thoughts attract positive results.

Thesis Defense Presentation Structure and Slides Content

We can use language learning models like ChatGPT to help us curate the structure of our thesis presentation. Let’s see a step-by-step solution on how to apply this.

Step 1: Define the thesis topic and research questions

You can set the environment for ChatGPT to work by explaining what your thesis is going to cover and which specific questions you aim to address through the course of that document. This gives ChatGPT the context from which it shall formulate the structure. A prompt can be written like this:

“Take the role of an academic professional who shall help me to write my thesis. This thesis is going to cover the topic of (insert topic), and through its course, I want to answer these questions: Question 1 – Question 2 – Question 3 – Consider this information as the starting point for this chat.”

Step 2: Ask for an outline

With the previously provided information, ask ChatGPT to generate an outline for your presentation. If some of the points listed in the output don’t convince you, then chat with the interface until you reach a final outline. Then, ask to elaborate on each specific point for information or cues you may have overlooked.

Step 3: Ask ChatGPT which content should you place per slide

Instead of debating how are you going to trim your thesis into a presentation format, ask ChatGPT to do the decision process for you. You can be as specific as asking how many words per slide, how many slides should the presentation have, if you need any visual element, etc.

N.B.: We don’t recommend using ChatGPT to retrieve academic references as, in some cases, it can provide faulty results. You can ask if any facts on this presentation need to be checked or similar questions. ChatGPT is a powerful tool, but it shouldn’t be considered a bible, so be extra cautious about grabbing content directly from its outputs.

1. Title Page

This slide should contain the information that is provided on the title page of your hard copy . Here is an example of title page or cover slide for your title defense or thesis presentation.

PPT Template Thesis Title - title defense example - Example of Title Slide in a Thesis Defense Presentation

  • The title of your research paper
  • Where you are studying
  • Name and details of your course
  • Name of Adviser

2. Introduction Slide

Your introduction slide should provide the committee with an idea of the following:

PPT Template Introduction Slide - Example of Introduction Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • What is the topic area that you are investigating ?
  • What are the specific research questions that you set out to answer?
  • Why is this question important to answer?
  • What were the objectives of your research?

3. Literature Review Slide

It’s not necessary to cover everything that’s currently understood in the available literature. You may want to present the following content under a Literature Review slide:

Literature Review Thesis PPT Template

  • Relevant current research that is close to your topic
  • Different theories that may apply to your specific area of research
  • Areas of weakness that are currently highlighted

4. Methodology Slide

Make sure to touch the factors below within your process, and include the following in the Methodology slide:

PPT Template Methodology Slide - Example of Methodology Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • The type of study you have conducted: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed
  • The methods that you chose and why
  • Details of the population, sampling methods, and other information
  • Provide information regarding how you have analyzed the data that you have collected

5. Results Slide

This part should give the committee/audience a good understanding of what you’ve discovered during your research. The statistics & results slide could include the final results of your analysis, here is an example:

Thesis Results PPT Template Slide

  • An overall description of the data that you collected during your research
  • The results of the analysis that you have done on that data
  • What were the most significant findings from your data

6. Discussion Slide

Highlight here the meaning of the findings in relation to your discipline program and the research that you have done:

Thesis Discussion PPT Template Slide - Example of Discussion Slide for a Thesis Defense presentation

  • What are the major findings, and what do they mean with regard to your research
  • How do these findings relate to what others have found in the past
  • How can you explain any unusual or surprising result

7. Conclusions Slide

You have to end your presentation with a conclusion summarizing all that you have found within your research. Here is an example of a Conclusion slide in a Thesis presentation:

Conclusions Thesis PowerPoint Template

  • Restate your research questions
  • Show how your results answer these questions
  • Show what contribution you have made
  • State any limitations to the work you have done
  • Suggest future research
  • Make any recommendations

See Also: How to Create a Great Investors Pitch Deck and Close the Deal

8. Acknowledgements Slide

Express gratitude to your advisor, committee members, peers, and others who supported your research journey. This slide provides a moment to acknowledge the collaborative nature of academic work.

9. Questions and Answers Slide

Dedicate a slide for audience questions at the end of your presentation.

Encourage engagement by inviting questions from the audience.

Be prepared to provide clear and concise responses to inquiries.

10. References Slide

Include a slide listing your cited sources throughout your presentation.

Use a consistent citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

The References slide demonstrates your thorough engagement with existing literature.

11. Contact Information Slide

If you’re open to further inquiries or collaborations, consider adding your contact information.

Include your email address or relevant professional social media handles.

How to use SlideModel AI Presentation Maker for your Thesis Presentation

If you want to save hours of manual time, you can leverage AI tools to make your thesis presentation. The best part of integrating AI tools into our workflow is that we can pair them to get even better results than we expected. With SlideModel’s AI presentation maker , users can create an entire slide deck by introducing these variables:

  • Topic of your thesis
  • Number of slides to include in your thesis presentation
  • Outline checkup

And that’s it! Download the AI-generated presentation in PPTX format or for Google Slides, and edit it if you require adding some extra content. The core elements are already done, and you can save countless hours of hard work.

Tips During Your Oral Defense!

Review your materials.

Even if you already feel confident with your upcoming presentation, you still need to review your materials.

You can bring the hard copy of your thesis with you during the defense, but you don’t want to get lost in your presentation when you forget some specific details and have to scan your papers.

You should know your paper in and out.

Rehearse Your Presentation

It’s not wrong if it sounds like a script when you speak in your oral defense. It’s expected and understandable.

You need to practice your presentation, especially when there’s a time restriction given to every presenter.

You only need to prepare enough slides that would fit your time limit. A hundred slides aren’t suitable for a 15 to 20-minute presentation, nor 10 slides for an hour of defense.

Your rehearsal will be more effective if you practice it in front of an audience.

Note: You will experience complete silence in the defense room. You might feel awkward because, most of the time, you’re the only one speaking out loud.  This is completely fine, and it’s something you should practice in rehearsal should you be afraid.

Narrow the Presentation of Ideas

Regarding your slides, you don’t have to include everything that’s in your paper. You should narrow down your ideas to the main points and the most important details, such as the statistics and findings.

If the members of your committee think you lack details or they want to hear a further explanation, they won’t hesitate to ask you.

Prepare for the Unexpected Questions

The panel tends to challenge the presenters, usually through some hard questions.

Its aim is how well do you you have done your research and how prepared you are.

But as long as you know the ins and outs of your paper, you shouldn’t lose your confidence regardless of which questions they ask.

Just keep in mind that what you’re saying in your oral defense is not in conflict with what is written on the hard copy you provided them.

What To Do When You Don’t Know the Answer

If the committee asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t make up a baseless answer.

Baseless means out-of-context answers or something without proof or backup.

How To Deal With The Nervousness

The committee expects you to be nervous. Of course, it’s normal.

However, one effect of being nervous is the changes in your behavior.

There’s a tendency for you’ll talk fast, which will make it hard for the committee to understand you.

It might also cause you to have a mental block.

So try to slow down. Take a deep breath.

Inhale, exhale.  Remember to breathe!

It’s OK to pause, and it’s OK to take your time; it’s more important that the committee clearly understands what you are trying to articulate.

More Quick Tips on How to Present!

  • Introduce yourself at the beginning
  • Introduce the title of the presentation
  • Don’t read your notes if possible
  • Don’t speak too fast
  • Put an emphasis on what you’re saying so you don’t sound monotonous
  • Look at your adviser once in a while for possible signs
  • Stand on the right of the white screen if you are right-handed so you can easily refer to the slide without giving your back to the committee
  • Face the audience when you talk
  • Keep an eye contact
  • Make sure to keep attention to the reactions of the committee and don’t forget to react in turn

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to do a proper thesis defense and how to best prepare for one using proven tips and techniques to help you get through this.  Hopefully, after your defense, you will be set as the one in your class to deliver an inspiring graduation speech for your peers. If you have value, please remember to share this article. We also recommend you read these Thesis Statement Examples for inspiration to create your own professionally.

1. MasterDoc PowerPoint Template

Cover Image for MasterDoc PowerPoint templates

Creating a Thesis presentation should be a straight forward task; based on your thesis document and following the tips described above you have a high level structure already outlined. The MasterDoc PowerPoint template provides professional layouts with texts and image placeholders; so you can create document like slides using your thesis defense as your content. This template is ideal for a highly detailed documents, where visuals and words unite to illustrate one concept per page. The result is an asset that can be read and digested more quickly than either your thesis document or a presentation created for assisting a speech. A document created with the MasterDoc PowerPoint templates is meant to be printed or distributed, read on screen without the accompaniment of a presenter or used in an e-learning platform as pure learning content.

Use This Template

2. Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

You had invested a considerable time researching, testing hypothesis and confirming your thesis. Craft your thesis presentation with the same level of detail you applied in your work. Using the Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template you will focus only in your content and your message. The layouts, images,design and structure will be taken care by the template.

3. Master Thesis PowerPoint Template

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

The Master Thesis PowerPoint Template is a professional document designed for postgraduate degrees presentations. It provides simple sections that follow  the structure and best practices of traditional research thesis presentations. Starting with the introduction to the theory and state of the art scenario; following with hypothesis research and its findings and concluding with the confirmation or negation of the initial thesis statement.

4. Essay Outline PowerPoint Template

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Your thesis defense can be accompanied by an essay, that states your thesis and argues about it using several supporting paragraphs. This kind of document is ideal to be an intermediate step between reading assisting to the thesis presentation and reading the complete thesis documentation. It has more information that your thesis defense abstract, but does summarizes the supporting evidence and examples that allows the argument of each idea behind the thesis. You can use the Essay Outline Template to present your Essay outline and create an essay linked to your thesis defense documentation.

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Academics, Degree, Dissertation, Doctorate, Education, Faculty, Master, PhD, Student, Thesis Filed under Presentation Ideas

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36 Responses to “How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation”

Great job! This has made my thesis presentation a whole lot easier.

Excellent !!!!!

Now I feel I’m quite confident on how to do my dissertation presentation properly and how to defend it. I will share that with other friends and colleagues.

Thank you so much for your kind help.

Best regards, Awad

Thank you for such a valuable guide.

it was very helpful

Thanks a bunch for the general summary for thesis defense with all related information that we might have to know. Great job!

Great tips.

i have proposal defense in two days and im so nervous right now! reading this is helpful in some ways thankyou!

It’s very helpful and understandable. Easy steps to follow.

I found it very helpful to refresh and make my self ready for my defense!

Thank you a lot this article. It’s really helpful!

Naveen Kumar S: Thank you its very Helpful. I appreciate all your effort this is very useful.

Very important and interesting so go on thank you

I really like it. In the near future I am going to present for the MA thesis. Therefore, it will guide me a lot. If you can please attach with this email the detail.

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Appreciate your Assistance

Thanks a lot for the gist

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This has made me look forward to my thesis defense. Thanks a lot

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  • Presentations

How to Start and Give a Great Thesis Defense Presentation

Sarah Joy

To complete a graduate degree, you'll likely need to create a thesis defense presentation. You must complete a thesis to finish many graduate degree programs. 

It's important to have an impressive thesis defense presentation.

A thesis is a paper where you explore a topic in depth that's related to what you’ve studied. After completing your thesis paper, you will be asked to defend it through a presentation.

You give this thesis defense in a meeting with a panel of two or more professors in your program. The panel could include other professionals related to your field.

In your thesis defense presentation, you will be asked questions about your topic. The purpose of the questions is to get you to think deeply about your work, so the questions could be open-ended.

To create a thesis defense presentation, you need to know how to make a thesis presentation and how to start your thesis defense. Keep reading to find out more about thesis defense presentations.

How to Structure Your PPT for Thesis Defense

It's just as important to start your presentation strong as it is to end strong.

Thesis defense presentations can vary in length. They can be 20 minutes long or two hours long. It depends on how much time is allowed for your presentation and questions.

Talk to your professor to find out how much time is set aside for your presentation. Your thesis defense presentation will be unique to your thesis. But a good presentation includes the following structure:

  • Title . You need a title just as your research paper needed a title. The title slide will include the information that you’d include on your paper title. This information can include the title, your name, your school, and course name.
  • Introduction . Just like most presentations, your thesis defense presentation should include an introduction slide. This slide should have the topic of your thesis and the question that your presentation answers. It should also include any objections to your research and the answer you’ll be defending in your thesis presentation.
  • Literature Review . Next, create two or more slides with a review of the literature used in your research. It doesn’t need to be a complete bibliography. Although you do need to cite your sources, these slides should include your most relevant sources.
  • Methodology . These slides in your thesis presentation are where you describe what method you used and an explanation of why you chose that method. If you've got some original research, include the details of that research and how you analyzed the data that you got from that research.
  • Results . Some of the most important slides of your PPT for thesis defense contain the results of your research. This should include a description of the data you collected by researching and the results of your data analysis. You also should highlight what your most noteworthy finding was.
  • Discussion . These slides of your PPT for thesis defense need to include your research results. Also, show how the results support your argument and how it relates to your original question.
  • Conclusion . The conclusion thesis presentation slides should restate your original research questions, show the results of your research, and suggest future research and any final recommendations.
  • Ending Slide . The ending slides of your thesis defense presentation are where you add an interesting fact, quote, gif, or hypothetical question. The point is to get your audience to continue to think about your topic while also grabbing their attention. You want your presentation to be memorable.

How to Make a Thesis Presentation

After you’ve seen what the structure of a thesis defense presentation is, there are some more tips that you can follow. Here are tips on how to create a thesis defense presentation:

1. Define Your Concept

When you start with a template you're starting with a good base.

After choosing which template to use, the next step is to choose the concept of your thesis defense presentation. Your concept should be relevant to your thesis. To have a fully rounded concept, try to make your presentation templates design relevant to your thesis topic.

Before working on your defense, think about the message you want to convey. This will help you choose elements such as font images and a theme that'll be cohesive.

2. Know Your Audience

Most people give their thesis defense presentation to an academic panel. This panel will look to see if you've developed a thorough understanding of your topic and thesis. They’ll also be looking to see if you've got a solid foundation for your argument.

This is why your presentation is important. You don’t want a sloppy presentation because it can give the impression of laziness and that you don’t care about your presentation. So, choose all aspects of your presentation carefully.

3. Keep Your Slides Focused   

Focused slides are less overwhelming for the audience.

Part of giving a good thesis presentation is to have focused slides. This means that you don’t want to have too much information on a slide. It’s best to follow the rule of one point per slide. If you've got too much on a single slide, it can be hard for the audience to follow you.

4. Structure Your Presentation

After you’ve chosen your concept, it's time to structure the content of your thesis. When structuring your information, you want to show that you understand the subject matter and that you're organized.

5. Less Is More

Less elements on a slide makes it easier for an audience to focus on your point.

Each slide should have enough information that you can make your point. It’s important that your audience listens more than they read. By speaking, you show your audience that you know the topic you’re presenting on. So, when creating your slides, remember that less is more.

6. Consider Your Typography

After choosing your thesis presentation subject, consider what typography to use. Your typography should create an impact without distracting from your topic.

When considering your typography, consider your text's colors. Your text's colors should contrast with your slide's background. If the text doesn’t contrast well, it can distract the audience, causing them not to pay attention as you speak.

7. Stick to Important Data

Don't overwhelm the audience with a large amount of data. Stick to important data.

Include data that'll strengthen your argument. Your data should also show that you’ve researched your thesis. If you can, add visuals that are relevant to your data. Visuals stimulate your brain and can increase how fast you process information. So, including relevant visuals can make your data easier to process and remember.

8. Consistency Is Key

When thinking about how to make a thesis presentation, think about consistency. For an impressive presentation, your presentation should flow well. It’s easier to have consistency when using a template because it’s already designed by a professional.

Check your finished presentation for consistency. This means making sure all your titles on slides are the same font and font size. Also, make sure that your body text is consistent throughout.

9. Explain Your Thesis

The most important part of your thesis defense presentation is explaining your thesis.

The next step in how to make a thesis presentation is to explain your thesis in great detail. The first part of this is your methodology slide . This is where you explain what method you used for your research, why you chose the topic, and how you conducted your research.

For this part of your thesis, chart and tables in your presentation are helpful in explaining data. In this section, keep your text minimal to let the chart, graphs, and data stand out. 

Next, tell the audience what the data means. Infographics are a great option to use in this section. Infographics and icons can quickly and simply show your message.

10. End Your Thesis

The last section of your thesis presentation is where you end it. Make your ending memorable to keep your audience thinking.

In your conclusion, overview your thesis topic and remind the audience of the answer that your research proved. Next, cover the important research points you want your audience to remember. A slide with icons is a great way to do this. Also, address your shortcomings in your research and how there can be improvements in future research.

Finally, use some more presentation tips by reading this helpful article:

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

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Now that you’ve been given tips on how to start a thesis presentation and what it should contain, put this information to use when creating your thesis presentation. Save time from having to create a presentation from scratch by downloading a premium template today!

Sarah Joy

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

Thesis defence

What is a thesis defense?

How long is a thesis defense, what happens at a thesis defense, your presentation, questions from the committee, 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense, 1. anticipate questions and prepare for them, 2. dress for success, 3. ask for help, as needed, 4. have a backup plan, 5. prepare for the possibility that you might not know an answer, 6. de-stress before, during, and after, frequently asked questions about preparing an excellent thesis defense, related articles.

If you're about to complete, or have ever completed a graduate degree, you have most likely come across the term "thesis defense." In many countries, to finish a graduate degree, you have to write a thesis .

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

Once you hand in your thesis, you will be assigned a date to defend your work. Your thesis defense meeting usually consists of you and a committee of two or more professors working in your program. It may also include other people, like professionals from other colleges or those who are working in your field.

During your thesis defense, you will be asked questions about your work. The main purpose of your thesis defense is for the committee to make sure that you actually understand your field and focus area.

The questions are usually open-ended and require the student to think critically about their work. By the time of your thesis defense, your paper has already been evaluated. The questions asked are not designed so that you actually have to aggressively "defend" your work; often, your thesis defense is more of a formality required so that you can get your degree.

  • Check with your department about requirements and timing.
  • Re-read your thesis.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them.
  • Create a back-up plan to deal with technology hiccups.
  • Plan de-stressing activities both before, and after, your defense.

How long your oral thesis defense is depends largely on the institution and requirements of your degree. It is best to consult your department or institution about this. In general, a thesis defense may take only 20 minutes, but it may also take two hours or more. The length also depends on how much time is allocated to the presentation and questioning part.

Tip: Check with your department or institution as soon as possible to determine the approved length for a thesis defense.

First of all, be aware that a thesis defense varies from country to country. This is just a general overview, but a thesis defense can take many different formats. Some are closed, others are public defenses. Some take place with two committee members, some with more examiners.

The same goes for the length of your thesis defense, as mentioned above. The most important first step for you is to clarify with your department what the structure of your thesis defense will look like. In general, your thesis defense will include:

  • your presentation of around 20-30 minutes
  • questions from the committee
  • questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it)

You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an appropriate amount of slides. A general rule is to use about 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation.

But that also depends on your specific topic and the way you present. The good news is that there will be plenty of time ahead of your thesis defense to prepare your slides and practice your presentation alone and in front of friends or family.

Tip: Practice delivering your thesis presentation in front of family, friends, or colleagues.

You can prepare your slides by using information from your thesis' first chapter (the overview of your thesis) as a framework or outline. Substantive information in your thesis should correspond with your slides.

Make sure your slides are of good quality— both in terms of the integrity of the information and the appearance. If you need more help with how to prepare your presentation slides, both the ASQ Higher Education Brief and James Hayton have good guidelines on the topic.

The committee will ask questions about your work after you finish your presentation. The questions will most likely be about the core content of your thesis, such as what you learned from the study you conducted. They may also ask you to summarize certain findings and to discuss how your work will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

Tip: Read your entire thesis in preparation of the questions, so you have a refreshed perspective on your work.

While you are preparing, you can create a list of possible questions and try to answer them. You can foresee many of the questions you will get by simply spending some time rereading your thesis.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense:

You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions. In addition, since you will know who will be on the committee, look at the academic expertise of the committee members. In what areas would they most likely be focused?

If possible, sit at other thesis defenses with these committee members to get a feel for how they ask and what they ask. As a graduate student, you should generally be adept at anticipating test questions, so use this advantage to gather as much information as possible before your thesis defense meeting.

Your thesis defense is a formal event, often the entire department or university is invited to participate. It signals a critical rite of passage for graduate students and faculty who have supported them throughout a long and challenging process.

While most universities don't have specific rules on how to dress for that event, do regard it with dignity and respect. This one might be a no-brainer, but know that you should dress as if you were on a job interview or delivering a paper at a conference.

It might help you deal with your stress before your thesis defense to entrust someone with the smaller but important responsibilities of your defense well ahead of schedule. This trusted person could be responsible for:

  • preparing the room of the day of defense
  • setting up equipment for the presentation
  • preparing and distributing handouts

Technology is unpredictable. Life is too. There are no guarantees that your Powerpoint presentation will work at all or look the way it is supposed to on the big screen. We've all been there. Make sure to have a plan B for these situations. Handouts can help when technology fails, and an additional clean shirt can save the day if you have a spill.

One of the scariest aspects of the defense is the possibility of being asked a question you can't answer. While you can prepare for some questions, you can never know exactly what the committee will ask.

There will always be gaps in your knowledge. But your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. You are not expected to know everything.

James Hayton writes on his blog that examiners will sometimes even ask questions they don't know the answer to, out of curiosity, or because they want to see how you think. While it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, but you would need to do [...] in order to find out.” This shows that you have the ability to think as an academic.

You will be nervous. But your examiners will expect you to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions, for example. Dora Farkas at finishyourthesis.com notes that it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

Two common symptoms of being nervous are talking really fast and nervous laughs. Try to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Remember what feels like hours to you are just a few seconds in real life.

  • Try meditational breathing right before your defense.
  • Get plenty of exercise and sleep in the weeks prior to your defense.
  • Have your clothes or other items you need ready to go the night before.
  • During your defense, allow yourself to process each question before answering.
  • Go to dinner with friends and family, or to a fun activity like mini-golf, after your defense.

Allow yourself to process each question, respond to it, and stop talking once you have responded. While a smile can often help dissolve a difficult situation, remember that nervous laughs can be irritating for your audience.

We all make mistakes and your thesis defense will not be perfect. However, careful preparation, mindfulness, and confidence can help you feel less stressful both before, and during, your defense.

Finally, consider planning something fun that you can look forward to after your defense.

It is completely normal to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions for example if needed. Slow yourself down, and take a deep breath.

Your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. James Hayton writes on his blog that it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", but he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, you would need to do [...] in order to find out".

Your Powerpoint presentation can get stuck or not look the way it is supposed to do on the big screen. It can happen and your supervisors know it. In general, handouts can always save the day when technology fails.

  • Dress for success.
  • Ask for help setting up.
  • Have a backup plan (in case technology fails you).
  • Deal with your nerves.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

You’ve reached the home stretch in your journey toward your post-graduate degree. You’ve diligently studied, researched and performed for years, and all that’s left is your master thesis or doctorate dissertation. 

“ All that’s left,” however, might be the understatement of the century. There’s nothing simple about orally defending your thesis, and this final stage often means the difference between a degree and a program that remains incomplete.

Even after you’ve dedicated months filled with blood, sweat and tears defining your argument, researching your support and writing your defense, you aren’t ready to address the academic panel. You still have to design an effective visual presentation, and the slide deck can make or break your entire thesis.

Unsure how to design a stellar slide deck to visually present your thesis or dissertation? Check out the following tips to pull off your master thesis defense with a great presentation:

1.   Properly structure your slide deck

Every master thesis defense presentation is unique, but most effective slide decks will follow a similar structure, including:  

  • Title - Just like a research paper, your thesis presentation must include a title slide. This should include the same information as any other title page: the title, your name, your academic institution, course name and the name of the academic advisor to your thesis or dissertation. That doesn’t mean your title slide needs to look like the start of any other Frankendeck . Instead, add your text atop a relative image, and adjust the brightness to ensure your text pops.
  • Introduction - Your thesis presentation should also include an introduction slide, which details the topic of your thesis, the question your research will seek to answer and any additional objectives to your research, as well as the answer or solution you will be defending.
  • Literature review - Following your thesis introduction, design one or more slides that review the literature you researched. This shouldn’t be a full bibliography (although that should be included in the accompanying written account of your research), but instead, the slides should list your most relevant research sources. If the information is featured on a slide, make sure you include its source. 
  • Methodology - Your thesis presentation slide deck should also include a slide (or slides) detailing the methodology of your research and argument. Here you want to describe the type of study— whether it’s quantitative, qualitative or a combination of the two, as well as an explanation of why you chose the method or methods you used. If you conducted original research, you will want to detail the study population, sampling methods and other details pertinent to your studies, while you’ll also want to detail how you analyzed your data.
  • Results - No thesis presentation slide deck is complete without dedicating slides to illustrate the results of your research. Be sure to include a description of any data you collected through your research, as well as the results of your analysis of the data. What were your most significant findings?
  • Discussion - How do the results of your research support your overall thesis argument? Be sure to include slides that discuss your overall findings and how they relate to your original question.
  • Conclusion - Concluding slides should restate your original research questions, represent the results of your research, suggest future research and make any final recommendations.
  • Ending slide – Close your thesis presentation with a concluding slide that offers an interesting quote or trivia that makes your audience further ponder your topic, a GIF or animation that recaptures the audience’s attention or even a hypothetical question that opens additional discussion from the academic panel. This is your opportunity to make your presentation memorable.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Thesis Presentation vs. Dissertation

Thesis presentation and dissertation are two terms often used in academic settings related to upper education. While they are related, there are distinct differences between the two, which is important to understand as you begin to structure your thesis defense.

‍ A thesis presentation typically refers to the final oral presentation that a student gives to defend their thesis or research project. It is a formal presentation to explain their findings, methodology, and conclusions to a panel of faculty members or experts in the field. The purpose of a thesis defense presentation is to demonstrate the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and to defend the validity of their research.

On the other hand, a dissertation refers to a lengthy and comprehensive research project that is typically required for the completion of a doctoral degree. It involves in-depth research, analysis, and the development of original ideas in a particular field of study. A dissertation is usually written over an extended period and is expected to contribute new knowledge or insights to the field. Unlike a thesis presentation, a dissertation is submitted in written form and is typically evaluated by a committee of faculty members or experts in the field.

2.   Choose which ideas to illustrate

Unless you have an hour to fill with your master thesis defense or doctorate dissertation, you won’t be able to include every idea from your overall research documentation in your slide show. Choose the most important ideas to illustrate on slides, while also keeping in mind what aspects of your research you’ll be able to visually represent.

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

3.   Define your presentation’s theme

A stellar thesis or dissertation presentation will be professional in appearance, and a cohesive design is an absolute must. Choose what types of typography and color schemes best support your topic. 

Instead of adjusting these settings on each individual slide— a tedious task at best— choose a PowerPoint-alternative presentation software like Beautiful.ai that allows you to customize a theme for your entire slide deck. Choose your fonts and other typography, your color palette, margins, footers, logos, transitions and more, and the cloud-based tool will automatically apply those design specifications to every slide you add to the master thesis defense presentation.

4.   Design simple and focused slides

You might have a lot of information to present, but when it comes to your thesis presentation— or almost any slide deck for that matter— less is more. Be sure every slide counts by focusing on your main points. 

Then, whatever you do, keep your slides simple. Not even an academic panel is going to dedicate much time deciphering a cluttered slide with all too many details. Try to avoid presenting more than one or two ideas on each slide.

5.   Include data visualizations

The whole point of your presentation is to illustrate the concepts included in your thesis. Humans are visual creatures and react strongly to imagery, and the panel evaluating your thesis or dissertation is no exception— regardless of how studious and formal the academics might seem. Illustrate the results of your research with colorful and engaging infographics . You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create them, either. 

Beautiful.ai users can choose from a host of smart slide templates with data visualizations — including favorites like bar graphs and pie charts , as well as less common options like scattergraphs , flow charts and pictograms . Just input your data and watch as our special brand of artificial intelligence creates the infographic for you.  

6.   Practice makes perfect

After spending months researching your thesis or dissertation, writing about your findings and designing a stellar master thesis defense presentation, you would hate to see all your hard work be for naught. That’s still a distinct possibility, however, if you don’t also practice your delivery. 

Practice, practice and practice some more until you know your master thesis defense like the back of your hand. No academic panel will be impressed by a graduate candidate who stumbles through their presentation or appears to be reading from their notes. Know the contents of every slide, as well as exactly what parts of your overall defense you want to deliver during its display. 

Things to keep in mind to help you nail your presentation

The golden rule of any presentation is to keep your audience engaged. You can ensure a more engaging presentation by maintaining eye contact, using appropriate gestures, and speaking clearly. You can also choose to include the audience in your presentation with interactive questions, polls, and slides.

To help boost audience retention, utilize storytelling. Studies show that when facts are presented in the form of a story, people are 22 times more likely to remember them. Talk about powerful.

Last but not least, plan for questions— and not simply by allowing time for them. Watch other thesis defenses delivered at your institution, and consider what types of questions the academic panel might ask, so you can prepare the best possible answer.

Extra credit:

Get started with our PhD Defense Thesis presentation template here .

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.

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How to create a great thesis defense presentation: everything you need to know

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Anete Ezera April 13, 2024

Ready to take on your thesis defense presentation? It’s not just about wrapping up years of study; it’s your moment to share your insights and the impact of your work. A standout presentation can make all the difference. It’s your chance to highlight the essentials and really connect with your audience.

This is where Prezi comes into play. Forget about flipping through slide after slide. With Prezi, you craft a narrative that pulls your audience in. It simplifies the complex, ensuring your key points hit home. Let’s explore how Prezi can help transform your thesis defense into a successful presentation.

Public speaker at science convention.

What is a thesis defense presentation and why are they needed? 

Whether you’re preparing for a master’s thesis defense or a Ph.D. thesis defense, this final step in your academic journey is the one with the most significance, as it dramatically influences your final grade. It’s also your chance to display the dedication and effort you’ve put into your research, a way to demonstrate how significant your work is. 

So, why is this such a big deal? A good presentation helps convince your teachers that your research is solid and makes a difference in your field. It’s your time to answer questions, show that your research methods were sound, and point out what’s new and interesting about your work. In the end, a great thesis defense presentation helps you finish strong and makes sure you leave a lasting impression as you wrap up this chapter of your academic life.

Best practices for making a successful thesis defense presentation 

In order to craft a standout thesis defense presentation, you need to do more than just deliver research findings. Here are some key strategies to ensure success, and how Prezi can play a crucial role in elevating your presentation.

Start with a strong introduction

Kick-off with an engaging introduction that lays out your research question, its significance, and your objectives. This initial segment grabs attention and sets the tone. Using Prezi’s zoom feature can make your introduction pop by visually underscoring key points, helping your audience grasp the importance of your work right from the start.

Organize your presentation clearly

A coherent structure is essential for guiding your audience through your thesis defense presentation. Prezi can help by offering a map view of your content’s layout upfront, providing a clear path through your introduction, methodology, results, and conclusion. This clarity keeps your audience engaged and makes your arguments easier to follow.

Incorporate multimedia elements

Adding multimedia elements like videos, audio clips, and animations can greatly improve the appeal of your thesis defense presentation. Prezi supports the seamless integration of these elements, allowing you to bring your research to life in a more vibrant and engaging way. Videos can serve as powerful testimonials or demonstrations, while animations can help illustrate complex processes or changes over time. This variety keeps your audience engaged and helps convey your message in a more exciting way.

Smiling african woman giving presentation at startup. Happy female professional standing in front of a large television screen with a graph.

Simplify complex data

Your findings need to be presented in a way that’s easy for your audience to understand. Prezi shines here, with tools that transform intricate data into clear, engaging visuals. By implementing charts and graphs into your presentation, you can make your data stand out and support your narrative effectively.

Engage your audience

Make your thesis defense a two-way conversation by interacting with your audience. Whether it’s through questions, feedback, or direct participation, engagement is key. Prezi allows for a flexible presentation style, letting you navigate sections in response to audience input, creating a dynamic and engaging experience.

Highlight key takeaways

Emphasize the key takeaways of your research throughout your presentation to ensure your audience grasps the most critical aspects of your work. With Prezi, you can use spotlighting and strategic zooming to draw attention to these takeaways, making them stand out. This method helps reinforce your main points, ensuring they stick with your audience long after your presentation concludes. By clearly defining what your audience should remember, you guide their understanding and appreciation of your research’s value and implications.

Practice makes perfect

Confidence in delivery comes from thorough practice. Familiarize yourself with every aspect of your thesis defense presentation, including timing, voice control, and gestures. Prezi Video is a great tool for rehearsing, as it allows you to blend your presentation materials with your on-camera performance, mirroring the live defense setting and helping you polish your delivery.

Cropped shot of a businesswoman delivering a speech during a conference

End with a lasting impression

Conclude your presentation powerfully by summarizing your main findings, their implications, and future research directions. Prezi’s ability to zoom out and show the big picture at your conclusion helps reinforce how each section of your presentation contributes to your overall thesis, ensuring your research leaves a memorable impact on your audience.

By using these tips and taking advantage of what Prezi offers, you can make your thesis defense presentation really stand out. It’ll not only hit the mark with your audience but also clearly show why your research matters.

Meeting tight deadlines with Prezi 

Facing a looming deadline for your thesis defense presentation? Prezi offers smart solutions to help you create a polished and engaging presentation quickly, even if it feels like you’re down to the wire.

A closer look at Prezi AI features

Prezi AI is a standout feature for those pressed for time. It assists in structuring your presentation efficiently, suggesting design elements and layouts that elevate your content. This AI-driven approach means you can develop a presentation that looks meticulously planned and executed in a fraction of the time it would normally take. The result? A presentation that communicates the depth and value of your research clearly and effectively, without the last-minute rush being evident. Here’s what Prezi AI can do:

  • Streamlined creation process: At the core of Prezi’s efficiency is the AI presentation creator . Perfect for those last-minute crunch times, it’s designed to tackle tight deadlines with ease.
  • Easy start: Kick off your presentation creation with just a click on the “Create with AI” button. Prezi AI guides you through a smooth process, transforming your initial ideas or keywords into a structured and visually appealing narrative.
  • Visual impact: There’s no need to dive deep into design details. Simply provide some basic input, and Prezi AI will craft it into a presentation that grabs and holds your audience’s attention, making your thesis defense visually compelling.
  • AI text editing: Spending too much time fine-tuning your message? Prezi AI text editing features can help. Whether you need to expand on a concept, clarify complex terms, or condense your content without losing impact, Prezi AI streamlines these tasks.
  • Content refinement: Adjust text length for deeper explanation, simplify language for better understanding, and ensure your presentation’s content is precise and to the point. Prezi AI editing tools help you refine your message quickly, so you can focus on the essence of your research.

Using Prezi Video for remote thesis defense presentations

For remote thesis defenses, Prezi Video steps up to ensure your presentation stands out. It integrates your on-screen presence alongside your presentation content, creating a more personal and engaging experience for your audience. This is crucial in maintaining attention and interest, particularly in a virtual format where keeping your audience engaged presents additional challenges. Prezi Video makes it seem as though you’re presenting live alongside your slides, helping to simulate the in-person defense experience and keep your audience focused on what you’re saying.

Prezi Video

Using these advanced Prezi features, you can overcome tight deadlines with confidence, ensuring your thesis defense presentation is both impactful and memorable, no matter the time constraints.

The Prezi experience: what users have to say 

Prezi users have shared compelling insights on how the platform’s unique features have revolutionized their presentations. Here’s how their experiences can inspire your thesis defense presentation:

Storytelling with Prezi

Javier Schwersensky highlights the narrative power of Prezi: “This is a tool that is going to put you ahead of other people and make you look professional and make your ideas stand out,” he remarks. For your thesis defense, this means Prezi can help you craft a narrative that not only presents your research but tells a story that captures and retains the committee’s interest.

Flexibility and creativity

Tamara Montag-Smit appreciates Prezi for its “functionality of the presentation that allows you to present in a nonlinear manner.” This flexibility is key in a thesis defense, allowing you to adapt your presentation flow in real time based on your audience’s engagement or questions, ensuring a more dynamic and interactive defense.

The open canvas

Vitek Dočekal values Prezi’s open canvas , which offers “creative freedom” and the ability to “create a mind map and determine how to best present my ideas.” For your thesis defense, this means Prezi lets you lay out and show off your work in a way that makes sense and grabs your audience’s attention, turning complicated details into something easy and interesting to follow.

Engagement and retention

Adam Rose points out the engagement benefits of Prezi: “Being able to integrate videos is extremely effective in capturing their attention.” When you need to defend a thesis, using Prezi to include videos or interactive content can help keep your committee engaged, making your presentation much more memorable.

These real insights show just how effective Prezi is for crafting truly influential presentations. By incorporating Prezi into your thesis defense presentation, you can create a defense that not only shows how strong your research is but also leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

Thesis defense presentations for inspiration 

Prezi is much more than a platform for making presentations; it’s a place where you can find inspiration by browsing presentations that other Prezi users have made. Not only that, but Prezi offers numerous templates that would be useful for thesis defense presentations, making the design process much easier. Here are a few examples that you may find helpful: 

Research project template by Prezi 

This Prezi research project template stands out as an ideal choice for thesis defense presentations due to its well-structured format that facilitates storytelling from start to finish. It begins with a clear introduction and problem statement, setting a solid foundation for the narrative. The inclusion of sections for user research, interviews, demographics, and statistics allows for a detailed presentation of the research process and findings, which are crucial when defending a thesis. 

Visual elements like user mapping and journey maps help make complex information understandable and engaging, which is crucial for maintaining the committee’s attention. Additionally, addressing pain points and presenting prototypes showcases problem-solving efforts and practical applications of the research. The template culminates in a conclusion that ties everything together, emphasizing the research’s impact and future possibilities. Its comprehensive yet concise structure makes it an excellent tool for communicating the depth and significance of your work in a thesis defense.

Civil rights movement Prezi

This Prezi on the Civil Rights Movement exemplifies an effective thesis defense presentation by seamlessly blending structured content, multimedia enhancements, and dynamic navigation. It organizes information into coherent sections like “About,” “Key Events,” and “Key People,” offering a comprehensive view ideal for a thesis presentation. The strategic use of videos adds depth, providing historical context in a dynamic way that text alone cannot, enhancing the audience’s engagement and understanding. 

Furthermore, Prezi’s open canvas feature brings the narrative to life, allowing for a fluid journey through the Civil Rights Movement. This method of presentation, with its zooming and panning across a virtual canvas, not only captivates but also helps to clarify the connections between various elements of the research, showcasing how to effectively communicate complex ideas in a thesis defense.

AI-assisted history template

This AI-assisted presentation template stands out as a great choice for thesis defense presentations, especially for those rooted in historical research. By merging striking visuals with rich, informative content, you can use this template to craft a narrative that breathes life into past events, guiding the audience on an engaging journey through time. Its sequential storytelling approach, empowered by Prezi AI , ensures a smooth transition from one historical point to the next, demonstrating the depth and continuity of your research. This template showcases Prezi AI’s capability to enhance narrative flow. By integrating advanced visuals and text, it captivates audiences and makes it an invaluable tool for presenting complex historical theses in a clear, compelling way.

Master your final grade with a Prezi thesis defense presentation 

Preparing for a thesis defense, whether for a master’s or Ph.D., is a pivotal moment that significantly influences your final grade. It’s your platform to demonstrate the dedication behind your research and its importance in your field. A well-executed presentation convinces your educators of your research’s validity and your ability to bring fresh perspectives to light.

To craft a successful thesis defense presentation, Prezi’s innovative features can be a game-changer. Prezi can empower you to transform presentations into captivating stories and provide you with the flexibility and creative freedom needed to make your presentation an outstanding success. Incorporating videos or utilizing Prezi’s non-linear presentation style can keep your committee engaged and emphasize your research’s significance.

Prezi also serves as a hub of inspiration, offering templates perfect for thesis defenses. From structured research project templates to dynamic historical narratives, Prezi provides tools that communicate your thesis’s depth and significance effectively, ensuring you leave a memorable impact on your audience. So, it’s time to revamp your thesis defense presentation and change it from dull to inspirational with Prezi. 

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

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8 Tips to Ace Your Thesis Defense Presentation

  • By Judhajit Sen
  • June 7, 2024

If you’re a graduate student nearing the end of your degree, you’re likely familiar with the term “thesis defense.” In many countries, completing a graduate degree involves writing a thesis—a substantial paper based on your field of study topic.

After submitting the formal presentation on your thesis, you’ll be given a date for your defense. This meeting usually includes you and a committee of two or more professors from your program and sometimes other professionals from related fields. During the defense, you’ll answer questions about your work to demonstrate your understanding of your field and focus area.

A thesis defense has two main parts: the thesis and the defense. The thesis shows your understanding of your program and major, and it’s more than just an extended essay. It asserts something significant about your research topic and is one of the most crucial documents you’ll produce during your academic career.

The defense is where you present evidence to support and prove your research. You must be prepared to answer questions from the committee and any other panel members. It’s your job to convince them of your thesis’s validity with ample proof. Before your academic literature review, carefully determine the evidence you’ll present to support your thesis best.

While the thesis defense might seem daunting, it’s often more of a formality to ensure you understand your work thoroughly rather than an intense interrogation.

The following are eight tips for acing your thesis defense presentation.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on Main Ideas: Prioritize the most critical points and keep your presentation templates simple with minimal text to ensure clarity and engagement.
  • Emphasize Core Concept: Highlight your thesis’s main idea and unique contributions. Use appropriate design elements and visuals to support your message and make it understandable for a diverse audience.
  • Smooth Transitions and Practice: Ensure logical flow between the templates and practice your presentation thoroughly. This preparation helps maintain audience engagement and boosts your confidence during the defense.
  • Anticipate Questions and Stay Calm: Prepare for potential questions from the committee. It’s OK not to know every answer; handle unknown questions thoughtfully. Manage nerves through deep breathing, rest, and planning a post-defense celebration.

Choose Which Ideas to Present

When preparing your effective presentation outline , it’s important to remember that you won’t have time to cover everything. Focus on the most critical ideas that best illustrate your research. Prioritize the main points and key findings you can visually represent in your ppt.

Your presentation time is limited. For a 45-minute defense, you’ll have about 10 minutes per project, shorter than a typical research conference presentation. Concentrate on the big picture and leave the finer details for the Q&A session. Keep backup slides with additional information ready, as these might come in handy if the committee asks specific questions.

Remember, your audience has seen many good presentations packed with data and details. Avoid overwhelming them with too much information. Instead, simplify your deck by focusing on one point per slide. This approach helps the committee follow your argument more easily and makes your defense more effective.

Use minimal text on your slides. The committee wants to hear you speak passionately and authentically about your research, not read blocks of text. Each slide should act as a cue for your discussion. Ensure there’s enough white space to keep the audience’s attention on the critical elements of each slide.

You don’t need to include everything from your paper in your presentation script . Narrow down your ideas to the most critical details, such as your statistics and findings. If the committee wants more information, they’ll ask during the defense.

Explore the Main Idea of Your Thesis Presentation

When preparing for your thesis defense, remember that your audience includes your committee members, researchers from other fields, and the general public. Your goal is to show everyone why your study is essential and how it makes a difference. For example, if you’re in engineering, explain how your work can be applied practically. Highlight the problems with current practices, what needs to be fixed, and the benefits your research offers.

Your thesis has a main idea, which should be clear in your presentation title page. Everything, from the design to the text, should reflect this core concept. A well-designed persuasive presentation helps engage your audience and shows your deep understanding of your research area. Before you start designing your slides, define your main idea. Use fonts, images, and best colors for ppt presentation that support your message. For example, avoid playful designs if your research is about vulnerable communities. Instead, use bold and clear fonts to emphasize important points.

Every image and visual element should support the accompanying text. Ensure your slides look professional, are free from clutter, and are easy to understand. If your answer to whether each slide meets these criteria is yes, you’re on the right path.

Choose a Google Slides or PowerPoint template that fits your thesis topic. Your design should reflect your central theme, guiding your color, font, and image choices. These design elements must align with your thesis’s message visually and contextually.

In your thesis PowerPoint presentation, continually emphasize your unique contributions. Clearly distinguish your work from that of others. Explain what problems your research solves and the breakthroughs you’ve made. Highlight why your methodology and outcomes are exceptional.

Remember, not everyone in your audience has your background knowledge. Focus on the big picture and use simple language to explain your methods and results. Your committee has read your dissertation, but others may not have. Ensure your presentation is understandable to all, keeping technical details to a minimum. This approach will help everyone understand your work’s significance and why you deserve your Ph.D.

Your Slide Transition Must be Smooth and Logical

Smooth and logical transitions between slides are crucial in your thesis defense. You are presenting a long and detailed research project, so it’s important to remind your audience of what you have discussed and what comes next. Use slides specifically designed for transitions throughout your presentation. This helps keep the flow consistent and is an excellent audience engagement strategy .

Avoid making your slides too busy with excessive indicators or information. Simple and clear transition sentences are vital. These sentences should summarize the main points you’ve covered and introduce the upcoming topic. If you tend to forget these transitions, write a note on your presentation slides. This note can be a complete sentence or keywords to jog your memory.

Ensure that each slide logically follows the previous one. Consistency is vital, not just in content but also in design. Stick to one color scheme and layout template throughout your presentation. Avoid sudden style changes, as they can distract your committee and make it harder for them to follow your argument. A smooth, logical progression in both your content and design is an effective presentation technique that will help keep your audience on track and engaged from start to finish.

Practice Your Presentation

After spending months on your thesis, writing up your findings, and creating an excellent presentation, you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste. This could happen if you don’t practice your delivery. Practice until you know your thesis defense inside and out. No academic panel will be impressed if you stumble through your presentation or read straight from your notes. Know every slide and what you want to say with each one.

Even if you feel confident, review your materials. You can carry a hard copy of your thesis, but don’t rely on it during your presentation. Know your paper thoroughly to avoid getting lost.

It’s OK if your oral defense sounds scripted. This is expected. Practicing is crucial, especially if there’s a time limit. Make sure your slides fit within the allotted time. For instance, a 15 to 20-minute presentation shouldn’t have a hundred slides, and a one-hour defense shouldn’t have just ten slides. Practice in front of an audience for a more effective rehearsal.

Remember, you might experience complete silence in the defense room. You could feel awkward because you’re the only one speaking most of the time. Practicing this scenario is normal and can help you feel more comfortable.

Incorporate Data Visualizations, but Don’t Go Overboard

When presenting your thesis, the main goal is clearly explaining your research’s ideas. People respond well to visuals, including the panel evaluating your work. Using colorful and engaging infographics can make your results stand out.

Adding facts and figures to your presentation is essential because it shows you’ve done thorough research. However, you must be careful about how much data you put on each slide. Your audience must understand what’s on the screen while listening to your public speaking . If your data presentation is too packed with information, it can be overwhelming and distracting, causing them to miss your key points.

Only include data that adds value to your argument to keep your audience focused. Use visuals like original or stock graphics to present this information. Research indicates that visuals can boost the brain’s learning ability by  up to 400% , making it easier and faster for people to process information. By incorporating dynamic pictures that explain your data, you help the committee understand and absorb your findings more effectively.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

When you’re gearing up for your thesis defense, being ready to tackle questions is critical. Here’s what you need to know:

Anticipate Questions: You can get ready for most of the questions coming your way. Take a good look at your thesis and jot down possible questions while you read. Also, check out who’s on your committee and what they specialize in. What topics are they likely to focus on? Sitting in on other defenses with these committee members can give you a heads-up on their questioning style.

Know Your Committee: The panel is there to challenge you, often with tough questions. They want to see if you know your stuff and are well-prepared. But don’t sweat it! You’re on the right track if you’re confident about your research.

Stay Confident: No matter what questions they throw at you, keep your cool. Make sure what you say during your defense matches what’s in your thesis. As long as you’re solid on your paper’s details, you’ve got this!

When You Don’t Know the Answer!

One scary scenario in a thesis defense is the chance of getting a question you can’t answer. You can prepare for many questions, but you can’t predict everything that will be asked. Remember, your thesis defense isn’t about being perfect or knowing everything. It’s about how you handle challenging situations.

Examiners sometimes ask questions they themselves don’t know the answer to. They might do this out of curiosity or to see how you think. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know,” but try to add something like, “I don’t know, but I would think […] because of x and y. To find out, you would need to do […].” This shows you can think like an academic.

Don’t make up something without proof or context if you don’t know the answer. Giving a baseless answer can hurt your credibility in a speech . Instead, be honest and thoughtful. This approach shows your integrity and ability to think critically under pressure.

It’s OK to Be Nervous

It’s completely normal to feel nervous during your thesis defense. Your examiners know this and will expect it. They have seen many presenters in your position and are usually willing to help, such as by repeating questions if needed. Remember, it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

When you’re nervous, you might talk fast or laugh without reason. Here are some tips to help you manage your stress:

Meditational breathing: Try some calming breaths right before your defense. Exercise and sleep: Get plenty of both in the weeks leading up to your defense. Preparation: Have everything you need ready the night before. Processing questions: Allow yourself to think about each question before you answer. Post-defense plans: Plan a fun activity with friends or family, like dinner or mini-golf, to look forward to after your defense.

Remember, it’s OK to take your time during the defense. Pausing to gather your thoughts is better than rushing through your answers. This will help the committee clearly understand what you are trying to say.

Your defense won’t be perfect, and that’s OK. Mistakes happen. Careful preparation can help you feel less stressed. Planning something enjoyable afterward can also give you something positive to look forward to.

Shine in Your Thesis Defense Presentation

Mastering your thesis defense is a crucial step in your academic journey, and preparation is critical. Focus on presenting your main ideas clearly and concisely. Prioritize significant points and findings, and use simple slides with minimal text to engage your audience effectively. Ensure your core concept is highlighted, and your unique contributions stand out.

Smooth transitions between slides maintain the flow of your presentation. Practice your delivery extensively to ensure you know your material inside and out. Incorporate data visualization in your presentation wisely to support your arguments without overwhelming your audience.

Anticipate potential questions from your committee and prepare thoughtful responses. If you encounter a question you can’t answer, admitting it while offering a logical next step is OK. Remember, defense is not about perfection but about demonstrating your understanding and ability to handle challenging situations.

Nerves are normal, but manage them through deep breathing, adequate rest, and exercise. Preparation and mindfulness can reduce stress, helping you perform confidently. Plan a rewarding activity after your defense to celebrate your hard work. With these strategies, you can confidently ace your thesis defense.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is thesis defense? A thesis defense is a formal meeting where you present your research to a committee of professors. You’ll answer their questions to demonstrate your understanding of your work and field.

2. How should I prepare my presentation slides? Focus on the main ideas and critical findings. Support your points with minimal text and clear visuals. Ensure your slides are professional and easy to understand, avoiding clutter and excessive details.

3. What should I do if I don’t know the answer to a question? It’s OK to admit if you don’t know an answer. Try to think through the question and suggest a logical next step. This shows your ability to think critically and handle challenging situations.

4. How can I manage my nerves during my defense? Feeling nervous is normal. Practice deep breathing, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly. Being well-prepared can boost your confidence. Remember to take your time when answering questions.

Master Thesis Defense Presentation with Prezentium

Transform your thesis presentation from daunting to dazzling with Prezentium ‘s AI-powered services. Preparing a compelling and visually stunning thesis defense is crucial for showcasing your research and impressing your committee. Prezentium specializes in creating top-tier presentations that combine visual design and data science, ensuring your hard work is presented flawlessly.

Our Overnight Presentation service guarantees a polished and professional presentation delivered to your inbox within one working day. Simply send us your requirements by 5:30 pm PST, and wake up the following day to a presentation that effectively communicates your main ideas, core concepts, and critical findings with clear and engaging slides by 9:30 am PST.

For a more tailored approach, our Presentation Specialist s can transform your notes and ideas into a refined and captivating presentation. They’ll work with you to create custom designs and templates that reflect the essence of your research, making your thesis defense informative and visually compelling.

Enhance your presentation skills with Zenith Learning , which offers interactive workshops and training programs. These sessions will help you master structured problem-solving and visual storytelling, essential for delivering a confident and persuasive thesis defense.

Don’t let the stress of creating a presentation overshadow your academic achievements. Contact Prezentium today and let us help you make a lasting impression with the best thesis defense presentation ppt.

Why wait? Avail a complimentary 1-on-1 session with our presentation expert. See how other enterprise leaders are creating impactful presentations with us.

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how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Preparing For Your Dissertation Defense

13 Key Questions To Expect In The Viva Voce

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) & David Phair (PhD) . Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2021

Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a “viva voce”) is a formidable task . All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you’ll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you’ve encountered so far.

It’s natural to feel a little nervous.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the most important questions you should be able to answer in your viva voce, whether it’s for a Masters or PhD degree. Naturally, they might not arise in exactly the same form (some may not come up at all), but if you can answer these questions well, it means you’re in a good position to tackle your oral defense.

Dissertation and thesis defense 101

Viva Voce Prep: 13 Essential Questions

  • What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?
  • How did your research questions evolve during the research process?
  • How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?
  • How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?
  • How generalisable and valid are the findings?
  • What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?
  • How did your findings relate to the existing literature?
  • What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?
  • Were there any findings that surprised you?
  • What biases may exist in your research?
  • How can your findings be put into practice?
  • How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?
  • If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?

#1: What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?

This question, a classic party starter, is pretty straightforward.

What the dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to clearly articulate your research aims, objectives and research questions in a concise manner. Concise is the keyword here – you need to clearly explain your research topic without rambling on for a half-hour. Don’t feel the need to go into the weeds here – you’ll have many opportunities to unpack the details later on.

In the second half of the question, they’re looking for a brief explanation of the justification of your research. In other words, why was this particular set of research aims, objectives and questions worth addressing? To address this question well in your oral defense, you need to make it clear what gap existed within the research and why that gap was worth filling.

#2: How did your research questions evolve during the research process?

Good research generally follows a long and winding path . It’s seldom a straight line (unless you got really lucky). What they’re assessing here is your ability to follow that path and let the research process unfold.

Specifically, they’ll want to hear about the impact that the literature review process had on you in terms of shaping the research aims, objectives and research questions . For example, you may have started with a certain set of aims, but then as you immersed yourself in the literature, you may have changed direction. Similarly, your initial fieldwork findings may have turned out some unexpected data that drove you to adjust or expand on your initial research questions.

Long story short – a good defense involves clearly describing your research journey , including all the twists and turns. Adjusting your direction based on findings in the literature or the fieldwork shows that you’re responsive , which is essential for high-quality research.

You will need to explain the impact of your literature review in the defense

#3: How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?

A comprehensive literature review is the foundation of any high-quality piece of research. With this question, your dissertation or thesis committee are trying to assess which quality criteria and approach you used to select the sources for your literature review.

Typically, good research draws on both the seminal work in the respective field and more recent sources . In other words, a combination of the older landmark studies and pivotal work, along with up-to-date sources that build on to those older studies. This combination ensures that the study has a rock-solid foundation but is not out of date.

So, make sure that your study draws on a mix of both the “classics” and new kids on the block, and take note of any major evolutions in the literature that you can use as an example when asked this question in your viva voce.

#4: How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?

This is a classic methodological question that you can almost certainly expect in some or other shape.

What they’re looking for here is a clear articulation of the research design and methodology, as well as a strong justification of each choice . So, you need to be able to walk through each methodological choice and clearly explain both what you did and why you did it. The why is particularly important – you need to be able to justify each choice you made by clearly linking your design back to your research aims, objectives and research questions, while also taking into account practical constraints.

To ensure you cover every base, check out our research methodology vlog post , as well as our post covering the Research Onion .

You have to justify every choice in your dissertation defence

#5: How generalizable and valid are the findings?

This question is aimed at specifically digging into your understanding of the sample and how that relates to the population, as well as potential validity issues in your methodology.

To answer question this well, you’ll need to critically assess your sample and findings and consider if they truly apply to the entire population, as well as whether they assessed what they set out to. Note that there are two components here – generalizability and validity . Generalizability is about how well the sample represents the population. Validity is about how accurately you’ve measured what you intended to measure .

To ace this part of your dissertation defense, make sure that you’re very familiar with the concepts of generalizability , validity and reliability , and how these apply to your research. Remember, you don’t need to achieve perfection – you just need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your research (and how the weaknesses could be improved upon).

Need a helping hand?

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

#6: What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?

This question picks up where the last one left off.

As I mentioned, it’s perfectly natural that your research will have shortcomings and limitations as a result of your chosen design and methodology. No piece of research is flawless. Therefore, a good dissertation defense is not about arguing that your work is perfect, but rather it’s about clearly articulating the strengths and weaknesses of your approach.

To address this question well, you need to think critically about all of the potential weaknesses your design may have, as well as potential responses to these (which could be adopted in future research) to ensure you’re well prepared for this question. For a list of common methodological limitations, check out our video about research limitations here .

#7: How did your findings relate to the existing literature?

This common dissertation defense question links directly to your discussion chapter , where you would have presented and discussed the findings in relation to your literature review.

What your dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to compare your study’s findings to the findings of existing research . Specifically, you need to discuss which findings aligned with existing research and which findings did not. For those findings that contrasted against existing research, you should also explain what you believe to be the reasons for this.

As with many questions in a viva voce, it’s both the what and the why that matter here. So, you need to think deeply about what the underlying reasons may be for both the similarities and differences between your findings and those of similar studies.

Your dissertation defense needs to compare findings

#8: What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?

This question is similar to the last one in that it too focuses on your research findings. However, here the focus is specifically on the findings that directly relate to your research questions (as opposed to findings in general).

So, a good way to prepare for this question is to step back and revisit your research questions . Ask yourself the following:

  • What exactly were you asking in those questions, and what did your research uncover concerning them?
  • Which questions were well answered by your study and which ones were lacking?
  • Why were they lacking and what more could be done to address this in future research?

Conquering this part dissertation defense requires that you focus squarely on the research questions. Your study will have provided many findings (hopefully!), and not all of these will link directly to the research questions. Therefore, you need to clear your mind of all of the fascinating side paths your study may have lead you down and regain a clear focus on the research questions .

#9: Were there any findings that surprised you?

This question is two-pronged.

First, you should discuss the surprising findings that were directly related to the original research questions . Going into your research, you likely had some expectations in terms of what you would find, so this is your opportunity to discuss the outcomes that emerged as contrary to what you initially expected. You’ll also want to think about what the reasons for these contrasts may be.

Second, you should discuss the findings that weren’t directly related to the research questions, but that emerged from the data set . You may have a few or you may have none – although generally there are a handful of interesting musings that you can glean from the data set. Again, make sure you can articulate why you find these interesting and what it means for future research in the area.

What the committee is looking for in this type of question is your ability to interpret the findings holistically and comprehensively , and to respond to unexpected data. So, take the time to zoom out and reflect on your findings thoroughly.

Discuss the findings in your defense

#10: What biases may exist in your research?

Biases… we all have them.

For this question, you’ll need to think about potential biases in your research , in the data itself but also in your interpretation of the data. With this question, your committee is assessing whether you have considered your own potential biases and the biases inherent in your analysis approach (i.e. your methodology). So, think carefully about these research biases and be ready to explain how these may exist in your study.

In an oral defense, this question is often followed up with a question on how the biases were mitigated or could be mitigated in future research. So, give some thought not just to what biases may exist, but also the mitigation measures (in your own study and for future research).

#11: How can your findings be put into practice?

Another classic question in the typical viva voce.

With this question, your committee is assessing your ability to bring your findings back down to earth and demonstrate their practical value and application. Importantly, this question is not about the contribution to academia or the overall field of research (we’ll get to that next) – it is specifically asking about how this newly created knowledge can be used in the real world.

Naturally, the actionability of your findings will vary depending on the nature of your research topic. Some studies will produce many action points and some won’t. If you’re researching marketing strategies within an industry, for example, you should be able to make some very specific recommendations for marketing practitioners in that industry.

To help you flesh out points for this question, look back at your original justification for the research (i.e. in your introduction and literature review chapters). What were the driving forces that led you to research your specific topic? That justification should help you identify ways in which your findings can be put into practice.

#12: How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?

While the previous question was aimed at practical contribution, this question is aimed at theoretical contribution . In other words, what is the significance of your study within the current body of research? How does it fit into the existing research and what does it add to it?

This question is often asked by a field specialist and is used to assess whether you’re able to place your findings into the research field to critically convey what your research contributed. This argument needs to be well justified – in other words, you can’t just discuss what your research contributed, you need to also back each proposition up with a strong why .

To answer this question well, you need to humbly consider the quality and impact of your work and to be realistic in your response. You don’t want to come across as arrogant (“my work is groundbreaking”), nor do you want to undersell the impact of your work. So, it’s important to strike the right balance between realistic and pessimistic .

This question also opens the door to questions about potential future research . So, think about what future research opportunities your study has created and which of these you feel are of the highest priority.

Discuss your contribution in your thesis defence

#13: If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?

This question is often used to wrap up a viva voce as it brings the discussion full circle.

Here, your committee is again assessing your ability to clearly identify and articulate the limitations and shortcomings of your research, both in terms of research design and topic focus . Perhaps, in hindsight, it would have been better to use a different analysis method or data set. Perhaps the research questions should have leaned in a slightly different direction. And so on.

This question intends to assess whether you’re able to look at your work critically , assess where the weaknesses are and make recommendations for the future . This question often sets apart those who did the research purely because it was required, from those that genuinely engaged with their research. So, don’t hold back here – reflect on your entire research journey ask yourself how you’d do things differently if you were starting with a  blank canvas today.

Recap: The 13 Key Dissertation Defense Questions

To recap, here are the 13 questions you need to be ready for to ace your dissertation or thesis oral defense:

As I mentioned, this list of dissertation defense questions is certainly not exhaustive – don’t assume that we’ve covered every possible question here. However, these questions are quite likely to come up in some shape or form in a typical dissertation or thesis defense, whether it’s for a Master’s degree, PhD or any other research degree. So, you should take the time to make sure you can answer them well.

If you need assistance preparing for your dissertation defense or viva voce, get in touch with us to discuss 1-on-1 coaching. We can critically review your research and identify potential issues and responses, as well as undertake a mock oral defense to prepare you for the pressures and stresses on the day.

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Jalla Dullacha

Very interesting

Fumtchum JEFFREY

Interesting. I appreciate!

Dargo Haftu

Really appreciating

My field is International Trade

Abera Gezahegn


Peter Gumisiriza

This is a full course on defence. I was fabulously enlightened and I gained enough confidence for my upcoming Masters Defence.

There are many lessons to learn and the simplicity in presentationmakes thee reader say “YesI can”

Milly Nalugoti

This is so helping… it has Enlightened me on how to answer specific questions. I pray to make it through for my upcoming defense

Derek Jansen

Lovely to hear that 🙂


Really educative and beneficial

Tweheyo Charles

Interesting. On-point and elaborate. And comforting too! Thanks.

Ismailu Kulme Emmanuel

Thank you very much for the enlightening me, be blessed

Gladys Oyat

Thankyou so much. I am planning to defend my thesis soon and I found this very useful

Augustine Mtega

Very interesting and useful to all masters and PhD students


Wow! this is enlightening. Thanks for the great work.

grace pahali

Thank you very much ,it will help me My Master Degree. and am comfortable to my defense.

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PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Tips for designing the slides

  • Tips for designing the slides
  • Presentation checklist
  • Example slides
  • Additional Resources

Example Slides Repository

  • Defense slides examples Link to examples dissertation defense slides.

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General tips for slide design

Use a plain background, for engineering, a plain, white background is generally ideal for dissertation proposals and defenses. don't pick a template that is too busy and distracting.,     , remember to add p age numbers, having page numbers in your slides will allow your advisors and peers to give comments. during your presentation, the committee members can use page numbers to reference specific slides for their questions. .

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Less is more

Don't put too many words on one slide (no more than 20 words per slide, in general)., when words are inevitable, highlight the keywords in each sentence (see examples from i. daniel posen's and l. cook's slides).

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Take advantage of animations

Use animations to explain complicated ideas in figures, tables, etc. you can use different slides instead of the animation functions in ms powerpoint; it will avoid overlapping text boxes or pictures when converted to pdf. , below is an example from c. kolb's defense slides. by a step-by-step revealing process, kolb was able to explain each detail without the distraction of other results. .

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Write down your notes 

Write down your notes with either bullet points or full sentences as a script. this can help you to remember what you want to say during your defense. when you are practicing, you won't have to come up with new things to say every time and won't forget what you planned to talk about. .

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Example 1: slide with notes - exact words to say (C. Mailings 2017)                                               Example 2: slide with notes - bullet points (I. D. Posen 2016) 

Be smart about the title of each slide

Use descriptive language to summarize the key point of the slide, and avoid using vague terms or the same title for several slides that have different contents..

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

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Dissertation Defense: Steps To Follow To Succeed

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A dissertation defense is arguably one of the most important milestones in every student’s career. While it signals that your tenure as a student is soon about to close, it validates all your efforts towards your thesis.

Being cautious about including all the necessary details is very important to successfully complete your dissertation proposal defense. This article tells you everything that you need to know about writing a defense that can add great credibility to you as a student.

What is A Dissertation Defense?

The first thing that you need to learn is what is a dissertation defense and what is its purpose. In simple terms, it is a presentation made by a student to defend all the ideas and views that are presented in a dissertation.

The presenter must include details like what is the reason for choosing specific research methods, the theory that has been selected for the paper, and other such points. This presentation is made before an audience that comprises of the university committee, professors and even fellow-students. It is met with questions and answers that gives the student an opportunity to provide more clarity on the dissertation in order to convince the committee to approve it.

Stages of a Dissertation Defense

One of the most important dissertation defense tips provided by several professors is to breakdown the process into three steps:

  • Preparation : This stage involves collection of all the necessary information that must be included in the defense dissertation and making all the arrangements for the actual meeting.
  • The defense meeting : This is where you decide how you will present the defense. The actual meeting is hugely reliant on the performance, body language and the confidence in your oral defense.
  • After the defense meeting : This stage, also known as the follow up, requires you to make the necessary revisions suggested by the university committee. You can even provide bound copies of the whole dissertation to distribute among different members of your departments. In the follow up stage, one must also think about expense that are related to publishing the Ph.D. dissertation defense as well as printing additional copies of the manuscript, if required.

How Long is a Dissertation Defense?

The first thing that a student should know is how long does a dissertation defense last? The length has to be carefully calculated to make the impact that you want. One of the most important steps in the dissertation preparation is to understand how much time each department allocates to the closing oral defense. When you plan in the early stages of your dissertation itself, you can write it in a manner that allows you to defend it in the allocated time.

Usually these meetings including the presentation, the oral defense and the question and answer session last for about two hours. In most cases, these two hours also encompass the time needed by members of the committee to deliberate.

How to Prepare for the Dissertation Defense

Now that you know how long is a dissertation defense, the next step is to prepare well enough to make your presentation impressive.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for a dissertation defense:

  • Watch other students in action to learn about different presentation styles. You can attend defenses of different colleagues in your department as well as other departments in your university.
  • Get all the details about the deadlines and the rules of your college or university about scheduling your defense.
  • Scheduling is also a very important part of your preparation. It is important to note that members of the committee and University chairs need to make time for these defences in a very packed schedule. Coordinate the date, venue and time of your defense as early as possible.
  • Prepare a manuscript adhering to the necessary formatting rules. Review your manuscript thoroughly before you hand it in. During your PH.D, your faculty will also assist you with the defense. For this, they must have a crisp and polished copy of your manuscript.
  • Most colleges have the facility for a pre-defense meeting. This is the best opportunity to sort out any concerns that you may have about the actual meeting. It is a good idea to ask the chairs what types of questions may be put forward and if there are any problems with the defense that need to be resolved. When you prepare for a pre-defense meeting, think of it as the final one and give it your all.
  • Put together all the material that you need for the defense. A detailed, yet to-the-point presentation must be prepared.
  • The final stage of preparation is practicing your presentation over and over again. It is not just the presentation but also the approach towards the questions that you must practice.

Tips To Nail Your Actual Meeting

With these tips you will be one step closer towards a successful defense that will help your dissertation pass and be approved:

  • All meetings should begin by addressing the chair. Make sure you thank all the committee members and the advisors for the efforts that they have put it. This gives you a professional start to the presentation.
  • The presentation should cover the following subjects in brief:
  • The research topic
  • Literature review
  • The methods used for analysis
  • The primary findings of the research
  • Recommendations of additional research on the subject in the focus.
  • Do not get rattled by any discussions among the chairs. They will deliberate on any disagreements or topics of interest. This is a part of the process and is not a reflection of the presentation itself.
  • There are two questions that are commonly asked that you should be prepared for. This includes the weaknesses of the dissertation and the research plans that you have made post-dissertation.
  • Use subtle gestures when you are talking. Do not overuse your hands when doing so. The whole meeting including the question and answer session should have a very formal appeal.
  • The tone of your voice must be assertive without making it seem like you are trying to hard. Be clear and enunciate when you speak.

Once the questions have been answered, the committee will leave the room. Then, after the deliberation, you will be informed if your dissertation has passed or not.

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Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide

A woman in front of a bookshelf speaking to a laptop

Written by Luke Wink-Moran | Photo by insta_photos

Dissertation defenses are daunting, and no wonder; it’s not a “dissertation discussion,” or a “dissertation dialogue.” The name alone implies that the dissertation you’ve spent the last x number of years working on is subject to attack. And if you don’t feel trepidation for semantic reasons, you might be nervous because you don’t know what to expect. Our imaginations are great at making The Unknown scarier than reality. The good news is that you’ll find in this newsletter article experts who can shed light on what dissertations defenses are really like, and what you can do to prepare for them.

The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it’s so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

“To me,” noted Dr. Atkins, who wrote her dissertation on how sociology faculty from traditionally marginalized backgrounds teach about privilege and inequality, “the most important part of the doctoral journey was finding an advisor who understood and supported what I wanted from my education and who was willing to challenge me and push me, while not delaying me.  I would encourage future PhDs to really take the time to get to know the faculty before choosing an advisor and to make sure that the members of their committee work well together.”

Your advisor will be the one who helps you refine arguments and strengthen your work so that by the time it reaches your dissertation committee, it’s ready. Next comes the writing process, which many students have said was the hardest part of their PhD. I’ve included this section on the writing process because this is where you’ll create all the material you’ll present during your defense, so it’s important to navigate it successfully. The writing process is intellectually grueling, it eats time and energy, and it’s where many students find themselves paddling frantically to avoid languishing in the “All-But-Dissertation” doldrums. The writing process is also likely to encroach on other parts of your life. For instance, Dr. Cynthia Trejo wrote her dissertation on college preparation for Latin American students while caring for a twelve-year-old, two adult children, and her aging parents—in the middle of a pandemic. When I asked Dr. Trejo how she did this, she replied:

“I don’t take the privilege of education for granted. My son knew I got up at 4:00 a.m. every morning, even on weekends, even on holidays; and it’s a blessing that he’s seen that work ethic and that dedication and the end result.”

Importantly, Dr. Trejo also exercised regularly and joined several online writing groups at UArizona. She mobilized her support network— her partner, parents, and even friends from high school to help care for her son.

The challenges you face during the writing process can vary by discipline. Jessika Iwanski is an MD/PhD student who in 2022 defended her dissertation on genetic mutations in sarcomeric proteins that lead to severe, neonatal dilated cardiomyopathy. She described her writing experience as “an intricate process of balancing many things at once with a deadline (defense day) that seems to be creeping up faster and faster— finishing up experiments, drafting the dissertation, preparing your presentation, filling out all the necessary documents for your defense and also, for MD/PhD students, beginning to reintegrate into the clinical world (reviewing your clinical knowledge and skill sets)!”

But no matter what your unique challenges are, writing a dissertation can take a toll on your mental health. Almost every student I spoke with said they saw a therapist and found their sessions enormously helpful. They also looked to the people in their lives for support. Dr. Betsy Labiner, who wrote her dissertation on Interiority, Truth, and Violence in Early Modern Drama, recommended, “Keep your loved ones close! This is so hard – the dissertation lends itself to isolation, especially in the final stages. Plus, a huge number of your family and friends simply won’t understand what you’re going through. But they love you and want to help and are great for getting you out of your head and into a space where you can enjoy life even when you feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash.”

While you might sometimes feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash, remember: a) no it’s not, you brilliant scholar, and b) the best dissertations aren’t necessarily perfect dissertations. According to Dr. Trejo, “The best dissertation is a done dissertation.” So don’t get hung up on perfecting every detail of your work. Think of your dissertation as a long-form assignment that you need to finish in order to move onto the next stage of your career. Many students continue revising after graduation and submit their work for publication or other professional objectives.

When you do finish writing your dissertation, it’s time to schedule your defense and invite friends and family to the part of the exam that’s open to the public. When that moment comes, how do you prepare to present your work and field questions about it?

“I reread my dissertation in full in one sitting,” said Dr. Labiner. “During all my time writing it, I’d never read more than one complete chapter at a time! It was a huge confidence boost to read my work in full and realize that I had produced a compelling, engaging, original argument.”

There are many other ways to prepare: create presentation slides and practice presenting them to friends or alone; think of questions you might be asked and answer them; think about what you want to wear or where you might want to sit (if you’re presenting on Zoom) that might give you a confidence boost. Iwanksi practiced presenting with her mentor and reviewed current papers to anticipate what questions her committee might ask.  If you want to really get in the zone, you can emulate Dr. Labiner and do a full dress rehearsal on Zoom the day before your defense.

But no matter what you do, you’ll still be nervous:

“I had a sense of the logistics, the timing, and so on, but I didn’t really have clear expectations outside of the structure. It was a sort of nebulous three hours in which I expected to be nauseatingly terrified,” recalled Dr. Labiner.

“I expected it to be terrifying, with lots of difficult questions and constructive criticism/comments given,” agreed Iwanski.

“I expected it to be very scary,” said Dr. Trejo.

“I expected it to be like I was on trial, and I’d have to defend myself and prove I deserved a PhD,” said Dr Atkins.

And, eventually, inexorably, it will be time to present.  

“It was actually very enjoyable” said Iwanski. “It was more of a celebration of years of work put into this project—not only by me but by my mentor, colleagues, lab members and collaborators! I felt very supported by all my committee members and, rather than it being a rapid fire of questions, it was more of a scientific discussion amongst colleagues who are passionate about heart disease and muscle biology.”

“I was anxious right when I logged on to the Zoom call for it,” said Dr. Labiner, “but I was blown away by the number of family and friends that showed up to support me. I had invited a lot of people who I didn’t at all think would come, but every single person I invited was there! Having about 40 guests – many of them joining from different states and several from different countries! – made me feel so loved and celebrated that my nerves were steadied very quickly. It also helped me go into ‘teaching mode’ about my work, so it felt like getting to lead a seminar on my most favorite literature.”

“In reality, my dissertation defense was similar to presenting at an academic conference,” said Dr. Atkins. “I went over my research in a practiced and organized way, and I fielded questions from the audience.

“It was a celebration and an important benchmark for me,” said Dr. Trejo. “It was a pretty happy day. Like the punctuation at the end of your sentence: this sentence is done; this journey is done. You can start the next sentence.”

If you want to learn more about dissertations in your own discipline, don’t hesitate to reach out to graduates from your program and ask them about their experiences. If you’d like to avail yourself of some of the resources that helped students in this article while they wrote and defended their dissertations, check out these links:

The Graduate Writing Lab


The Writing Skills Improvement Program


Campus Health Counseling and Psych Services



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Trapped in dissertation revisions?

How to create a dissertation proposal defense powerpoint (+example), published by steve tippins on june 21, 2022 june 21, 2022.

Last Updated on: 22nd May 2024, 04:14 am

As part of the dissertation process, you will need to create a dissertation proposal defense PowerPoint to present a summary of the plan for your study. You will need to show how important your study is and how it is useful. 

When creating the PowerPoint, keep in mind that you need to make sure all of your audience can understand all aspects of your study.  The exact content for the defense PowerPoint varies by college, discipline and department, so it is important that you discuss with your committee chair about the requirements. However, we will give some general guidelines that apply to most institutions.

woman in orange jacket wearing headphones and working on her dissertation defense

The defense typically takes 20‐30 minutes. You should keep the timeframe in mind as you consider the information you will have in your presentation. 

Except for aspects of your presentation, such as the research question(s) or hypothesis(es), do not just read the slides. Instead, explain or expand on what is on the slides. To ensure you keep within the timeframe, practice narrating your PowerPoint presentation. 

Although the APA manual does not provide guidelines for creating a PowerPoint presentation, you will need to follow some of the APA style guidelines within your PowerPoint. 

For example, provide in-text citations for quotes, paraphrases, images, graphs, and other information that should be cited. Also, you will need to provide a list of pertinent references. 

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

The following are other format requirements for the slides :

  • Create 17-20 slides.
  • Do not provide a lot of information. Be concise and write a few sentences (approximately 1-7 on each slide). 
  • Because your slides will contain only a small amount of information, any extra information that you want to touch on should be put in the notes section of the PowerPoint. 
  • Write the information in your slides for visual appeal and optimum communication, using a legible font size. 
  • You can use graphics and images to enhance and reinforce the information. However, ensure that they do not distract from your information.
  • You can use bullet points but keep them to a minimum of 3-4 for each listing.

Example Dissertation Proposal Defense PowerPoint Template

man in denim shirt using his laptop to create a dissertation proposal

The dissertation proposal will consist of three chapters, which you will be providing information on in the presentation. Although the contents and order of the contents may vary, there are some basic parts of the proposal that are usually required.  

The following is a breakdown of the usual contents that are included in the presentation. Each of these headings below represents the titles of each slide. The information below the headings is the type of content you will need to provide. 

Title (1 slide) : 

  • Dissertation’s Title 
  • Department of Program of Study/Name of University
  • Chair and Committee Members

Statement of the Problem (1 slide):

  • Provide the problem that your dissertation will address. 

Purpose of the Study (1 slide):

  • Provide what the study will do relative to the issue(s) defined in the statement of the problem.

Significance of the Study (1 slide):

  • Provide the main argument of why the solution to the problem that you propose is important. 

Research Question(s)/Hypothesis(es ) (1 slide):

  • Provide the research question(s) or hypothesis(es) relevant to your field of study, written exactly as it is in your dissertation proposal.

The Literature Review (2 slides):  

  • These slides should consist of a coherent, organized overview of the main literature that frames your study’s problem, and the gap in literature that your study will address. Make sure that you include the sources. 

Theoretical/Conceptual Framework (1 slide):

  • This slide should consist of the theoretical/conceptual framework that will help you make sense of the phenomenon that you will investigate. 

Research Design (1 slide):

  • Provide the framework for the methods of data collection and data analysis. Indicate whether the study will be quantitative or qualitative.

Sample and Population (1 slide):

  • Provide the population that refers to the entire group that you will draw conclusions about, and the sample that refers to the specific group that you will collect data from.

Data Collection (1 slide):

  • Provide the methods by which you will obtain the data. If the research design is quantitative, provide methods such as correlation and regression, mean, mode and median or others. If the design is qualitative, provide methods such as, interviews, questionnaires with open-ended questions, focus groups, observation, game or role-playing, case studies, or others.

Data Analysis (1-2 slides):

  • This slide should contain the process you will use to understand, gather, compile, and process the data you will obtain. 

how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Limitations (1 slide):

  • In this slide, explain the nature of the limitations and how they will be overcome during your research. 

Delimitations (1slide):

  • Provide the characteristics that describe the boundaries of your study and limit the scope, such as sample size, geographical location, population traits, or others.

References (1-2 slides):

  • Only provide those sources that you referred to in the presentation. Do not provide all the sources that you have in your dissertation proposal.

Thank You/Questions (1 slide):

  • Use this final slide to thank your committee and to request questions from them.

Note : For information about citing your references, refer to Chapters 9 and 10 of the APA Manual 7 th edition.

For instructions on how to create a PowerPoint, see How to Create a Powerpoint Presentation .

View this video for “ Tips and Tricks for your Proposal Defense Day Presentation ” 

You can find several templates of students’ Dissertation Proposal Defense presentations online by searching for “Dissertation Proposal Defense PowerPoint.”  You can also find one at this webpage .

Steve Tippins

Steve Tippins, PhD, has thrived in academia for over thirty years. He continues to love teaching in addition to coaching recent PhD graduates as well as students writing their dissertations. Learn more about his dissertation coaching and career coaching services. Book a Free Consultation with Steve Tippins

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Swath and Dive: A pattern for PhD defense presentations

In recent times I’m having the fortune of seeing several of my own doctoral students approach the end of the doctoral journey (yes, it does end!). As they submit the dissertation and prepare for their defense, there is one piece of advice I find myself giving again and again, about how to tackle the impossible task of presenting multiple years of research work in less than one hour. In this post, I describe a “presentation design pattern” for thesis defenses, which builds upon classic conceptualization exercises advocated in the blog. I also illustrate it with an example from my own thesis defense presentation, more than ten years ago (gasp!).

I still vividly remember when I had to prepare my defense presentation, how I tried to shoehorn tons of concepts into an impossibly small number of slides… which still were too many for the 45-minute talk I was supposed to give at the defense. After several rehearsals (with an audience!) and lots of feedback from my colleagues and advisors, I finally stumbled upon a solution. Later on, I have found that a similar structure was also helpful to other doctoral students preparing their defenses.

The rest of the post takes the form of a presentation design pattern , i.e., a description of “a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment, and […] the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice." 1 (a concept originally proposed in architecture, and later used in software engineering, pedagogy and many other fields). I have called this pattern Swath and Dive (for reasons that will become obvious in a minute).

The context: when is this pattern applicable?

When you have to prepare an oral presentation for a doctoral dissertation defense. This pattern is especially helpful if the research is a bit complicated (e.g., composed of multiple contributions , multiple studies, or using multiple research methods) and it is not obvious what contents to include/exclude from the presentation.

What is the problem? What forces are at play?

The main problem this pattern tries to solve is the seeming impossibility of showing 3+ years of research work in less than one hour. While time restrictions and structure for the defense are different in different countries, typically 25-60 minutes are allocated for the presentation. This limited time is a key force at play, but there are others as well:

  • The sheer volume of a thesis dissertation’s contents (typically, a 100-500 pages document), which itself is a condensation of years of hard research work.
  • Defending PhD students need to prove to the jury that they are now competent, independent researchers (i.e., they master the literature of their topic, are able to apply a research methodology and think critically about the results ).
  • The varying levels of expertise and familiarity of the jury members with the concrete thesis topic.
  • The varying levels of knowledge that jury members have of the dissertation materials (i.e., did they read the dissertation document in full? with what level of attention?). While all members are supposed to have read the document, in practice there is a lot of heterogeneity in compliance.

The typical end product of these forces is what I call the “skimming” approach to the defense presentation (see picture below): The presentation provides only a very high level overview of the main elements of the dissertation document (sort of like a table of contents). More often than not, too much time is spent in the introductory and related literature parts of the presentation (which are somehow “safe”, less likely to be criticized – another instance of avoidance at work in the PhD ), and time runs out when the student is getting to the really interesting part for the jury (the student’s own work). This approach of course has the critical flaw of not showcasing enough of the student’s own abilities and research outcomes.

Skimming: picking just a shallow top layer, increasingly shallow as time runs out

Skimming: A typical approach to selecting thesis defense content

How to avoid “skimming” your dissertation? Enter Swath and Dive .

The solution: Swath and Dive

What I propose in this pattern is to structure the presentation in a different way, a way that tries to balance the need for an overview of the dissertation and (at least some of) the richness of the investigation and the hard work the student has put behind it. The proposed structure goes like this:

A swath is “a long broad strip or belt” of grass, often left by a scythe or a lawnmower. In the context of a dissertation defense presentation, this is where the student gives the overview of the main elements of the thesis: key related scientific literature , main research questions , contributions to knowledge the dissertation makes, etc. Long-time readers of the blog will recognize these key elements as the components of the CQOCE diagram , one of the key reflection exercises in the “Happy PhD Toolkit” to (iteratively) understand and discuss with supervisors the overall view of the thesis. Aside from those key elements, probably some notes about the research methodology followed (which are not part of the canonical CQOCE diagram exercise) will also be needed.

In a sense, the Swath is not so different from the typical “skimming” mentioned above. There are several crucial differences, however: 1) when developing the Swath , we need to keep in mind that this is only a part (say, 50%) of the presentation time/length/slides; 2) the Swath should give equal importance to all its key elements (e.g., avoiding too much time on the literature context of the thesis, and making the necessary time for the student’s own research questions, contributions and studies); and 3) the Swath does not need to follow the chapter structure of the dissertation manuscript, rather focusing on the aforementioned key elements (although scattering pointers to the relevant chapters will help orient the jury members who read the dissertation).

Then, within this high-level Swath describing the dissertation, when we mention a particular contribution or study, it is time to do…

This part of the presentation is where the student selects one study or finding of the thesis and zooms in to describe the nitty-gritty details of the evidence the student gathered and analyzed (if it is empirical research), how that was done, and what findings came out of such analysis. The goal here is to help the audience trace at least one of those high-level, abstract elements, all the way down to (some) particular pieces of the raw data, the evidence used to form them.

How to select which part to Dive into? That is a bit up to the student and the particular dissertation. The student can select the main contribution of the dissertation, the most surprising finding, the largest or most impressive study within the work, or the coolest, most novel, or most difficult research method that was used during the dissertation process (e.g., to showcase how skillfully and systematically it was used). The student should give all the steps of the logic leading from low-level evidence to high-level elements – or as much as possible within the time constraints of the presentation (say, 30% of the total length/time/slides).

An essential coda: Limitations and Future Work

Although this didn’t make it to the title of the pattern, I believe it is crucially important to keep in mind another element in any good defense presentation: the limitations of the student’s research work, and the new avenues for research that the dissertation opens. These two areas are often neglected in crafting the defense presentation, maybe with a single slide just copy-pasting a few ideas from the dissertation manuscript (which were themselves hastily written when the student was exhausted and rushing to finish the whole thing). Yet, if the student convinced the jury of her basic research competence and knowledge during the Swath and Dive part, a big part of the jury questions and discussion will focus on these apparently trivial sections.

When doing the limitations, the student should gloss over the obvious (e.g., sample could have been bigger, there are questions about the generalizability of results) and think a bit deeper about alternative explanations that cannot be entirely ruled out, debatable aspects of the methodology followed… squeeze your brain (and ask your supervisors/colleagues) to brainstorm as many ideas as possible, and select the most juicy ones. For future work, also go beyond the obvious and think big : if someone gave you one million dollars (or 10 million!), what cool new studies could continue the path you opened? what new methods could be applied? what experts would you bring from other disciplines to understand the phenomenon from a different perspective? what other phenomena could be studied in the same way as you did this one? Try to close the presentation with a vision of the brighter future that this research might unleash upon the world.

Give a high level overview of the key elements of the dissertation and a deep dive into at least one interesting finding

Swath and Dive: a different way of structuring your defense presentation

To understand how this pattern could look like, I can point you to my own thesis defense presentation, which is still available online . This is not because the presentation is perfect in any way, or even a good example (viewing it today I find it overcomplicated, and people complained of motion sickness due to its fast pace and Prezi’s presentation metaphor of moving along an infinite canvas)… but at least it will give you a concrete idea of what I described in abstract terms above.

If you play the presentation , you will notice that the first few slides (frames 1-6) just lay out the main construct the dissertation focuses on (“orchestration”), the structure of the presentation and its mapping to dissertation chapters. Then, the bulk of the presentation (frames 7-117) goes over the main elements of the dissertation according to the CQOCE diagram , i.e., the Swath part of the pattern. Within this high-level view of the dissertation, I inserted a short detour on the research methodology followed (frames 25-28) and, more importantly, several Dives into specific findings and the evidence behind them (frames 43-48, 66-72, and 99-112). Then, frames 118-136 provide the conclusive coda that includes the future work (but not the limitations, which were peppered through the Swath part of the presentation – a dubious choice, if you ask me today).

Variations and related patterns

As you can see from the example above, one does not need to follow the canonical version of Swath and Dive (mine is rather Swath and Three Dives ). Yet, paraphrasing Alexander, that is the point of the pattern: to have the core of the idea, which you can use to produce a million different solutions, tailored to your particular context and subject matter.

It is also important to realize that this structuring pattern for thesis defense presentations does not invalidate (rather, complements) other advice on preparing scientific presentations 2 , 3 , 4 and thesis defenses more specifically 5 . It is all very sound advice! For instance, once you have the structure of your Swath and Dive defense presentation, you could use the NABC technique to ensure that the Need, Approach, Benefits and Competition of each of your knowledge contributions are adequately emphasized. And you can rehearse intensively, and with an audience able to come up with nasty questions. And so on…

May you defend your thesis broadly and deeply!

Do you know other defense presentation structures that work really well in your discipline? Have you used Swath and Dive in your own defense successfully? Let us know (and share your examples) in the comments area below! (or leave a voice message)

Header image by DALL-E

Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S., & Silverstein, M. (1977). A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Vol. 2). Oxford University Press. ↩︎

Carter, M. (2013). Designing science presentations: A visual guide to figures, papers, slides, posters, and more (First edition). Elsevier/Academic Press. ↩︎

Anholt, R. R. H. (2009). Dazzle ’Em with Style: The Art of Oral Scientific Presentation (2nd ed). Elsevier, Ebsco Publishing [distributor]. ↩︎

Alley, M. (2013). The craft of scientific presentations: Critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid (Second edition). Springer. ↩︎

Davis, M., Davis, K. J., & Dunagan, M. M. (2012). Scientific papers and presentations (Third edition). Elsevier/Academic Press. ↩︎

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how to do a dissertation defense presentation

Luis P. Prieto

Luis P. is a Ramón y Cajal research fellow at the University of Valladolid (Spain), investigating learning technologies, especially learning analytics. He is also an avid learner about doctoral education and supervision, and he's the main author at the A Happy PhD blog.

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How to greet the audience at the beginning of a PhD defense talk/presentation?

I'll be giving a 30-min public talk as a part of my PhD defense next month. It would be attended by the examination committee (consisting of my advisor and two examiners). I reckon that some professors/lecturers from the university might also join it apart from my colleagues and friends.

What would be a suitable - neither too short or seemingly-snappy nor too long and boring - way to address the audience at the very beginning of my talk? For instance, starting with

Hello everyone

sounds a bit too informal to me. Personally, I am inclined to starting with

Respected members of the examination committee...

but I am not sure if that, because of the " Respected ", may be considered too traditional (unfortunately, I don't recall how my colleagues who graduated in the last years did it - you never focus on such aspects until it is your turn :-$).

Should I refer to the examination committee using names, as in:

Respected members of the examination committee, Prof. X, Prof. Y, and Prof. Z

or better not?

For peers and friends, addressing could simply continue as

... and dear colleagues and friends.

Should I also try to sandwich another category specifically for the other professors and lecturers? If so, what could be a suitable way to address them?

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ff524's user avatar

  • 40 Most PhD talks around here start with something like "Good morning. My name is jayann, and I am today defending my dissertation on XYZ". No need to overthink this. –  xLeitix Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 10:37
  • 21 It depends on your institution. In Holland, you actually have to say (in Dutch) something to the effect of "Very esteemed and highly learned Professor Doctor X, I would like to give you my most sincere thanks for the very insightful comments that blah blah blah" (seriously). I've been to defences in California where the candidate just went "hi". Short answer: ask you advisor, he/she knows what the norm of your institution is. –  Koldito Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 10:53
  • 15 In my graduate (US mathematics) department, the custom was for the thesis advisor to introduce the speaker as we usually do for invited speakers at seminars/colloquia (something like 'I am pleased/delighted to introduce Harry Potter who will be defending his thesis "Horcruxes and how to find them"'), following which the speaker usually thanks the advisor for the introduction, possibly thanks the audience for being there, and then gets on with it. –  Aru Ray Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 15:26
  • 1 I would go with "Hello, and welcome to the presentation of my Ph.D. thesis". –  padawan Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 0:53
  • 2 In the US to me, "Hello everyone" sounds formal and appropriate, whereas "Respected members of the examination committee" sounds downright ridiculous. Just wish everyone a "good morning", or a "hello", or a "let's get started", and then get on with your talk. –  Caleb Stanford Commented May 19, 2017 at 23:04

3 Answers 3

I would like to second both xLeitix and Koldito's comments and convert them into an answer:

In most cases, there is no requirement, and you can just say, "Good [morning/afternoon], my name is [name], and welcome to my thesis defense."

A very few institutions have a much more formal set of requirements. For example, when I was an examiner for a defense at TU Delft, I had to learn a few words of Dutch in order to ask my questions with the required formality. Also, I had to come a day early to get fitted for a special archaic form of suit. Don't worry about this, though: if this is the case for your institution, then somebody will make sure that you are instructed in what to do.

jakebeal's user avatar

  • 3 Indeed, these formalities are (nearly) the same at all Dutch universities and if you're a PhD student, the precise rules will most surely be pointed out to you well before the day of the defense. Still, when the time is there, candidates make mistakes, but nobody cares that much: it's mostly fun to spot them when you're in the audience ;-) –  Jaap Eldering Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 0:07

The answer lie in the comments to your question.

Check your local customs. Have you not attended a single PhD talk during your time as a PhD student? What have students done so far? And ... talk to your advisor.

Do not overdo it. If you try to work in lots of complex thanks and courteous comments, you are very likely to stumble and forget and the impression becomes unprofessional or insecure at best. Thanks area also easily managed by adding a slide with thanks to advisers, funding and whatever you feel is necessary. You can use that as the last slide of your presentation since the audience will then know the presentation is over.

Peter Jansson's user avatar

Ideally, you would already have attended similar defenses of your advisor's earlier Ph.D. students before and picked up the prevailing social norms there - also concerning other "soft factors", like whether to feed everyone afterwards, with what etc.

I gather this didn't happen, so I'll second Koldito's comment-answer : just ask your advisor. And/or talk to other people in your institution, even if they work in other areas. Such things will likely be more specific to your regional culture than to your specific subfield.

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how to do a dissertation defense presentation

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Committee and Defense

Announcement of oral exam.

The student's GPD or department administrative staff is responsible for submitting an  Announcement of Oral Exam  at least 10 days prior to the defense date. It is advisable to submit earlier to ensure that the committee composition is approved and that the student's audit meets requirements prior to the defense (and with ample time to make changes if necessary.) Please review the information below before submitting.  *This form has been updated with a new link as of 9/16/2022.

Defense Requirements

Students must abide by  semester deadlines  set by the Dissertation and Thesis Office to determine when to defend their dissertation or thesis. While defenses are typically conducted in person, some departments may approve virtual defenses. It is up to the student and their chair to communicate with committee members to establish a defense date and time that works for all members that falls  before or on  the defense deadline date for the semester. Beyond this, the Graduate Schools leaves defense requirements up to individual departments.

Committee Requirements

Committee members must be Baylor  graduate  faculty as documented with the Graduate School.   Teaching graduate courses does not ensure that faculty are officially graduate faculty, which entails a nomination and approval process by the faculty's department GPD and the Dean of the Graduate School. Students and chairs should confirm that all members are graduate faculty prior to the submission of the Announcement of Oral Exam form. You can  search graduate faculty here . The only exception is for additional committee members beyond the minimum requirements listed below.

Dissertation Committee Composition

Please see the Graduate Catalog for a full description of  dissertation committee requirements . The basic composition is as follows:

  • A committee chairperson who is graduate faculty from the student's department
  • Another committee member who is graduate faculty from the student's department
  • A committee member who is graduate faculty from a Baylor department other than the student's home department (a "Baylor outside reader")
  • A committee member that may be graduate faculty from the student's department, graduate faculty from another department, or faculty from another institution as approved by the committee chair and the department GPD

Please note that having a committee member from another institution does not satisfy the requirement of having a Baylor faculty member from a different department. Students may have more than four committee members after the above requirements are met.

Thesis Committee Composition

Please see the Graduate Catalog for a full description of  thesis committee requirements . The basic composition is as follows:

Students may include additional committee members, including members from other institutions, after the above requirements are met.

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  1. The Ultimate Guide to Delivering an Outstanding Dissertation Defense

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  1. PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Start

    Purpose of the Guide. This Guide was created to help Ph.D. students in engineering fields to design dissertation defense presentations. The Guide provides 1) tips on how to effectively communicate research, and 2) full presentation examples from Ph.D. graduates. The tips on designing effective slides are not restricted to dissertation defense ...

  2. How to Start a Thesis Defense Presentation

    Use an appropriate language register (avoid informal language), but be approachable and natural. "Welcome to the thesis defense on [the title of your thesis]". Next, introduce yourself with your name and give a short description of your background and occupation. Don't forget to say "thank you for attending!".

  3. How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense with a PowerPoint Presentation

    Consider this information as the starting point for this chat.". Step 2: Ask for an outline. With the previously provided information, ask ChatGPT to generate an outline for your presentation. If some of the points listed in the output don't convince you, then chat with the interface until you reach a final outline.

  4. How to Start and Give a Great Thesis Defense Presentation

    2. Know Your Audience. Most people give their thesis defense presentation to an academic panel. This panel will look to see if you've developed a thorough understanding of your topic and thesis. They'll also be looking to see if you've got a solid foundation for your argument.

  5. How to Make a Thesis Defense Presentation That Will Impress Your

    Keeping your defense simple will cut through all the other noise. Work on narrowing the focus of each slide to cover one point. Just one. Condensing ideas is tough, especially when you're discussing a complex issue. But taking your presentation one slide at a time ensures the audience can follow your argument clearly.

  6. How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

    Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense: 1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them. You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions.

  7. How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

    Define your presentation's theme. 4. Design simple and focused slides. 5. Include data visualizations. 6. Practice makes perfect. Things to keep in mind to help you nail your presentation. You've reached the home stretch in your journey toward your post-graduate degree.

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    A coherent structure is essential for guiding your audience through your thesis defense presentation. Prezi can help by offering a map view of your content's layout upfront, providing a clear path through your introduction, methodology, results, and conclusion. This clarity keeps your audience engaged and makes your arguments easier to follow.

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  10. Preparing For A Viva Voce (Dissertation Defence)

    Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a "viva voce") is a formidable task. All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you'll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you've encountered so far. It's natural to feel a little nervous.

  11. PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Example slides

    PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Example slides. Start; Tips for designing the slides; Presentation checklist ... Thank all Ph.D.s for sharing their presentations. If you are interested in sharing your slides, please contact Julie Chen ([email protected]). Civil and Environmental Engineering. Carl Malings (2017) Irem Velibeyoglu ...

  12. Tips for designing the slides

    Link to examples dissertation defense slides. Email me for questions and schedule an appointment. Chasz Griego he/him Email. Contact: 4410 Sorrells Library 4th Floor Wean Hall ... During your presentation, the committee members can use page numbers to reference specific slides for their questions.

  13. Perfect Dissertation Defense: Your Complete Guide

    One of the most important steps in the dissertation preparation is to understand how much time each department allocates to the closing oral defense. When you plan in the early stages of your dissertation itself, you can write it in a manner that allows you to defend it in the allocated time. Usually these meetings including the presentation ...

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    The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it's so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

  15. How to Create and Give a Thesis Defense Presentation

    Tips for Your Oral Presentation. The following are the common tips to ace your defense thesis presentation: Practice your thesis presentation. Select the main points of your thesis presentation. Prepare for the unexpected question from your committee. Don't provide a baseless answer. Take a deep breath to avoid nervousness.

  16. How to Create a Dissertation Proposal Defense PowerPoint (+Example)

    Get customized coaching for crafting your proposal, collecting and analyzing your data, or preparing your defense. The following are other format requirements for the slides: Create 17-20 slides. Do not provide a lot of information. Be concise and write a few sentences (approximately 1-7 on each slide).

  17. Dissertation Defense

    The oral defense of your dissertation is, in essence, your formal introduction to your new colleagues—you are the expert on your subject. In the defense you'll be expected to cogently and clearly explain your work and how it fits with other research and scholarship in your field. The exact nature of the oral defense varies by discipline and ...

  18. Preparing Your PowerPoint

    Preparing Your PowerPoint. Topic 3: Preparing for Defense. In this activity, you will draft your PowerPoint for your proposal defense. During your defense you will typically have 10-15 minutes for your presentation. There are approximately 9-12 slides. They have read the study, so focus more on findings and implications, less on literature.

  19. Swath and Dive: A pattern for PhD defense presentations

    In the context of a dissertation defense presentation, this is where the student gives the overview of the main elements of the thesis: key related scientific literature, main research questions, contributions to knowledge the dissertation makes, etc. Long-time readers of the blog will recognize these key elements as the components of the CQOCE ...

  20. PDF Dissertation Defense guidlines (1)

    Microsoft Word - Dissertation Defense guidlines (1).docx. Preparing a Presentation for Your Dissertation Defense: Guidelines. Build the Presentation: Use the presentation from your proposal defense as a start Edit down your proposal presentation } Summarize Chapters 1-‐3 Focus on Chapters 4-‐5.

  21. PDF Final Dissertation Defense PowerPoint Template

    The primary purpose of this defense is to present the findings, conclusions, and implications from your dissertation study. This document was created for educational purposes. Students are encouraged to discuss the expectations for the defense presentation with the EdD Dissertation Committee.

  22. The Perfect Defense: The Oral Defense of a Dissertation

    Dr. Valerie Balester of Texas A&M University talks about how to prepare and what to expect when defending your dissertation.#tamu #Dissertation #Defensehttp:...

  23. How to greet the audience at the beginning of a PhD defense talk

    In my graduate (US mathematics) department, the custom was for the thesis advisor to introduce the speaker as we usually do for invited speakers at seminars/colloquia (something like 'I am pleased/delighted to introduce Harry Potter who will be defending his thesis "Horcruxes and how to find them"'), following which the speaker usually thanks the advisor for the introduction, possibly thanks ...

  24. PDF Guidelines for the Oral Defense

    The dissertation defense is public. Faculty, fellow graduate students and interested members of ... The candidate will then provide a 20 to 30-minute presentation of their dissertation. 4. This is followed by the Q&A from the dissertation committee. Each member usually will take 30 minutes, for a total of 1.5 hours.

  25. Committee and Defense

    Announcement of Oral Exam. The student's GPD or department administrative staff is responsible for submitting an Announcement of Oral Exam at least 10 days prior to the defense date. It is advisable to submit earlier to ensure that the committee composition is approved and that the student's audit meets requirements prior to the defense (and with ample time to make changes if necessary.)