If there’s one thing we dread about college life, it’s defending undergraduate research, more commonly known as a THESIS. Worry not! We have some tips that might help you with your defense frights.
I don’t know for sure if college students are the only ones with this dilemma. With all the changes happening in the country’s education system, I think I’ve heard that some students from senior high school are now also made to do it (I sure am glad I just had to go through it once!). After all the hard work of writing the paper, the defense can make or break it. To be honest with you, I haven’t met one person who right away knew how to defend a research paper (except maybe research professors), but I’ll just write down what I think helped me and my classmates get through it successfully. Let’s get to it!
Tip #1: Know your paper.
This is the fundamental step towards successfully defending your research. You CAN’T walk to the panel not knowing anything about the paper and expect to pass.
Okay, some students like to work on the paper on their own even when it’s something you should really do as a group (or as a pair, in my experience). Nonetheless, before the defense day, all of the members of the group should learn the paper. Chances are, one of the panelists will ask who she thinks knows less, and none of you guys should know less. Whoever the panel asks should be able to answer and explain the paper down to the littlest nooks and crannies.
Tip #2: Lay out the flow.
It’s easy to get distracted or overtalk when we get nervous. Either that or some of us wouldn’t even be able to speak. Leading astray from the focal point of the research is also a tendency.
I’m not saying everything you’ll say should be scripted, but at least have an outline of how you want the presentation to flow. Assign parts for each member to explain (but again, don’t learn only your part but learn the whole thing!). This helps lessen the nerves and prevents you from possibly stuttering and scrambling for what next to say. In my experience, we had a time limit so we really had to get that flow going, otherwise, we’d go beyond the allotted time or give emphasis to the less important parts.
Tip #3: REHEARSE!
Again, this helps a lot if you are trying to fit the presentation into a specific time limit. Time yourselves while you are doing a mock defense in an empty room (or anywhere you can concentrate), so you can work on going faster or slower depending on the time. This also helps lessen the nervousness once you’re out there since you have already practiced it. Don’t rehearse too much, though. Sometimes over-rehearsing plus nervousness can be a formula for a mental block.
Tip #4: Cue Cards
C’mon, we all know cue cards never go out of style when it comes to any presentation. Don’t write down everything you’re going to say, though (and don’t just read!). Cue cards are just to help you remember what to talk about next. They can include slide titles, a section in the paper you want to explain, or cue words! Before stepping into the defense room, sort the cards out according to their order so you won’t end up looking through index cards for what to say next, or worse, say the wrong thing.
Tip #5: Be CONFIDENT.
You’ve learned the paper, you know what to say. There’s no reason not to be confident! Sometimes, confidence is the only thing that can win you the “pass” remark. It makes you look knowledgeable (although let’s be honest, we’re just wingin’ it, LOL!) But really, step into the defense room, smile, and greet the panelists! It’s your hard work written on that paper you’re about to defend, so own it! Also, one important note: look them in the eye when you speak and establish a connection. If you’re still nervous, look at their foreheads. It’s an old trick but I can guarantee you, it almost always works!
We can only give tips, the rest now depends on you! We know you can do it! Let us know if these tips were helpful in the comment section below or hit us up on our Facebook or Twitter @UDoUPh. Best of luck!