How to Prepare for A Thesis Defense

After writing your thesis, you still have a big hurdle to go through – your thesis defense. You have to present your research in front of a panel or committee composed of faculty members who are experts in your field of specialization.

They are present to critique your paper, then ask questions and raise concerns that you need to address. Yes, it might seem scary, but all masters and Ph.D. candidates have to go through this to improve their thesis before publication and complete a graduation requirement. If you’re looking for information on how to prepare for a thesis defense, then you can find them here.

 In preparation for defending your thesis, you have to go through your paper repeatedly, create a slide presentation, and dress up for the big event. You may have the means to buy a thesis online, but successfully defending it lies on you. This activity is meant to showcase your mastery, skills, credibility, and preparation as the author of the thesis. Remember: failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

How Long Is A Thesis Defense?

Knowing how long the defense should be will help you determine how long your presentation should be. You have to maximize the given time to summarize everything about your research. However, it would be best if you did not forget to include the study’s significant parts despite time brevity.

The allotted time for the defense depends on the arrangement set by the college. Some may last for around 30 minutes to two hours. It already includes the paper presentation and the question and answer portion.

How to Make A Thesis Defense Presentation

Whether you use Powerpoint, Google Slides, or Keynote, your slide presentation is your companion in your defense. It allows you to project images, texts, and graphic organizers to make an engaging but organized presentation. Because it is crucial in a thesis defense, learning how to make an effective thesis defense presentation is indeed a must. Below are some tips on how to make a Powerpoint presentation for thesis defense.

Identify the essential parts to be included.

Since your study is divided into several parts, it is challenging to squeeze all of the information in a short time. Therefore, you have to identify the details that show the core findings of the research. Prioritize what the audience and the committee members need to know.

Create a formal, concise, and organized presentation.

As much as it is tempting to use funny video clips and memes to engage your audience, they might not take you seriously if you use this strategy. Unless, of course, if your topic is really about these things. Because a thesis defense presentation is a part of a formal activity, your slides should also look formal. Furthermore, it would help if you considered keeping the number of slides to around 10 to fifteen slides to not rely on the slides too much.

The audience should focus on listening to you, and the slides should be an aid to deliver the content of your research and not the primary source. Lastly, it would be best if you put visual cues on the slides to help you remember the next slide’s content. This technique will help you prevent showing the wrong slide at an inappropriate time.

Fill the presentation with graphic organizers and relevant images.

Many people are visual learners, which means that majority of your audience members can easily remember and learn from the things they see. So, you must fill your slides with relevant images and necessary graphic organizers, such as tables, pies, graphs, and charts. It would help if you minimized putting texts, such as long sentences and paragraphs. You are to say those things as the presenter. Put something that the audience should see but cannot hear from you.

Utilize the top half part of the slide.

Depending on the audience’s chairs’ setup, some of them may not entirely see the slides. Because people seated in front might block other people’s views, it would be considerate to use the top half part of the slide and keep the bottom half empty. This way, everyone will not miss out on any necessary detail as you present a thesis.

Make the introduction impactful

Over the years, people’s attention span has decreased, so introductions very crucial. In a matter of seconds, you have to capture the attention of your audience and reel them into listening to you. There are several ways on how to start a thesis defense presentation. You can narrate a short anecdote, ask a relevant question, report an alarming issue, or present recent data or study connected to your research.

Preparing for an Oral Defense

In an oral defense of a thesis, preparation is vital. But don’t worry too much. You will have a long time to prepare for this to achieve success in this endeavor. During this time, you can work with your adviser or practice in front of your family and friends. By doing this, you can receive constructive criticisms and feedback that can help in making improvements to your overall presentation. Below are some of the best practices on how to defend a thesis.

Know the contents of your thesis by heart and mind

Since you are the author of the paper, you have to master its content cover to cover. It might be impossible to know everything word by word, but everyone expects you to know everything about it. Therefore, a part of the defense’s preparation is reading everything repeatedly and memorizing its content, if possible. This way, you can present everything thoroughly, and you can answer the questions precisely.

List questions that might come up and be prepared to answer them.

As previously mentioned, you will inevitably receive questions about your research. Since the masters or Ph.D. committee will receive a copy of your paper beforehand, they will have specific and even random questions for you. Hence, it would be best if you listed some questions that you think they will ask and be prepared to answer them by giving information from credible sources.

Practice repeatedly to synchronize yourself with the slides.

After making your slide presentation, you should constantly practice with the slides to be familiar with the presentation flow and make some changes along the way. Because of time restrictions, you also have to practice with a timer to going under or over time. You try to practice with your family and friends and ask for feedback.

Watch other paper presenters.

To have an idea of what is to come, you should also consider watching other master’s thesis defense presentations or Ph.D., if available. The objective is not to feel bad about yourself but to observe good practices and points for improvement. Then, try to emulate their good practices and learn from their mistakes. If possible, you can also ask them for thesis defense tips that were useful to them.

Have a complete rest before the defense.

Physical rest is another essential factor before presenting a thesis. You may have learned everything on preparing for thesis defense, but if you feel tired and restless during the presentation, then all of your preparation will be futile. Lack of sleep and exhaustion, which can affect your physical and mental health, will hinder you from excelling. So, set aside at least one week to prepare yourself physically and mentally.

What to Wear to A Thesis Defense

Some dissertation defense tips include tips on clothing. Your goal should be to look professional without compromising your comfort because you will be presenting in front of other professionals and be standing for a long time. Here are some tips to help you choose clothes that will make you look dignified and feel empowered.

Business attire

Since a thesis defense is a formal activity, you are supposed to wear business attire clothes. You can wear a knee-length dress, a top and a blazer, medium-length skirt or pants, and one- or two-inch closed shoes for the ladies. Meanwhile, you can wear long sleeves, a blazer, a tie, pants, white socks, and leather shoes for the gentlemen. You have to make sure that your clothes will not be too loose, revealing, and distracting. The audience should focus on your research and not your clothes.

Comfortable formal shoes

You have to stand for an extended time, so you should feel comfortable with your footwear. If you are going to wear heels, make sure to get used to wearing them before the defense to avoid tripping, walking awkwardly, or being in pain the whole time.

Well-ironed clothes

Wearing wrinkled clothes can be a sign of unpreparedness. Since first impressions last a long time, the panel and audience should instantly be impressed with how you project yourself, including your clothes. So, you should wear well-ironed clothes that will reflect your dedication and preparedness for the activity.

Neutral colors

You should be wearing clothes that will complement your slides. To avoid looking like an eyesore, you can choose to wear neutral colors, like black, white, beige, or blue.


It might not be actual clothes, but confidence is the essential thing that you have to wear. You have to believe that your preparation is more than sufficient and that you can survive your thesis defense like a winner. Your confidence, or lack thereof, will be discernible, so equip yourself with both wisdom and confidence.

Common Thesis Defense Questions and Answers

Below are some thesis defense questions that you might encounter and the answers you can give to respond respectfully and precisely.

Why did you choose this topic?

You can answer this question by telling the panel your observations and interest in this topic and some research problems you wanted to address. You can also say that you want to contribute to the current available studies in this area if others do not extensively research it

Briefly explain your study.

Even after your presentation, the panel might want to check if you can concisely explain your study. To answer this, refer to the abstract of your research. It has everything that the committee members have to know

What is the scope of your study?

For this question, you can explain how in-depth your study is in exploring your research problem. It includes the purpose, sample or respondents, duration, and location that you focused on for the research.

Why did you use that research methodology?

You can tell them the reasons for using your chosen methodology. Explain how the process is not influenced by your bias, expenses, or interaction with the respondents as a researcher.

What are your findings from this research?

Report the results of your study in a brief but precise manner. You can also refer them to the research questions and tell them how reservations successfully answered them.

What is the contribution of your study to knowledge?

It is pretty similar to the significance of the study. You can give the implications of your research to associated groups or communities and the research field in general.

What are some limitations that you encountered?

You can quickly answer this by enumerating the limitations that you have identified in your paper. You can share the variables and factors out of your control, like time, sample size and respondents, or preliminary studies or related literature for reference and analysis.

What would you suggest for future studies?

It can be answered by stating your recommendations for other researchers, considering the limitations you encountered. One thing to remember is to avoid giving suggestions based on your personal beliefs as a researcher. Stick to your findings.

What are the sources of your data?

To answer this question, you can inform them that you have gathered data from primary and secondary sources, like thesis, dissertations, journal articles, and scholarly books. Regarding the data on your findings, you can explain the research methodology that you have done.

Do you have any closing remarks?

Now is the perfect time to thank the committee members or panel for helping you in your endeavor. Inform them that you will communicate their suggestions, feedback, and comments with your thesis adviser to assure your thesis’s quality before final submission.

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