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How To Survive Your Master's Dissertation Defense: 10 Things You Should Know

Defending your Master’s dissertation is one of the biggest parts of your degree, and something that can cause a great degree of stress for all involved. There are some sure-fire ways to ease the pain somewhat, however, 10 of which are listed here.

  1. Do extra reading
  2. You need to do a lot of reading for your Master’s dissertation, of course, but there are some things that won’t make it into the final cut. But your extra reading can definitely come in handy when you attend your defense!

  3. Practice alone
  4. Talking out loud will prepare you for talking in front of strangers. It’ll help you not get so tongue-tied!

  5. Make notes, but try not to use them
  6. Use the notes while practicing but try to lose them before the actual defense.

  7. Take water
  8. Most problems - with concentration, etc. - come from lack of hydration. It’s a rookie mistake to go into the actual meeting with no water - and water is the best! Just make sure to go to the loo before you start!

  9. Practice in front of people
  10. Once you know how your defense should go when practising in private, you need to start practising in front of other people. Ask your friends and relatives for any help they can offer!

  11. Learn to breath
  12. It sounds ridiculous - you can breathe without thinking, right? Well, there’s nothing worse than being breathless while explaining your Master’s dissertation. Remember to breathe deeply!

  13. Ask questions
  14. Few things impress your panel of scholars and tutors more than actually asking questions after the defense. Make sure to think carefully about questions that will be interesting and unique.

  15. Dress smartly
  16. The way you look, as frustrating as it can be, is the first thing that people will notice. So make sure you dress smartly! Wear a suit or something equally smart. It will also make you feel like a real professional.

  17. Swot up
  18. Try to learn who is going to be on the panel of your meeting. Once you know who is going to be there, you can try to work out what they will all be looking for: one, attention to detail; another, extra reading; the third, a particular aspect of the subject. Be prepared!

  19. Have fun!
  20. The most important tip is to try to have fun with your Master’s dissertation meeting. This is the last step of a huge part of your life: enjoy it!

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