PhD Defense Template

You’ve done the hard work to prepare your PhD dissertation, and now there’s only one step left: your defense. And has the perfect presentation template to help you along the way.

These customizable template slides have all the basic elements of a PhD defense presentation, including an abstract, methodology, research findings, executive summary, and more. The result? A streamlined presentation that’s as professional as it is impressive. All with just a few clicks of the mouse. 

Our PhD defense template can also help you:

  • Customize your PhD presentation for different audiences
  • Synthesize months of academic work into a concise presentation
  • Successfully defend your PhD thesis to your panel

Use our template to create an effective PhD defense presentation

Your PhD defense presentation is a critical step in your academic journey – one that requires a smart and sophisticated format, layout, and story flow. That’s why our template includes everything you need to create an effective presentation. Tailoring this defense template to your unique PhD thesis is simple. Whether you need to create additional data points or showcase more findings, you can quickly bring your visions to life with these customizable templates and our entire library of professionally designed template slides.

Title Slide

Pro Tips for creating your own PhD defense presentation template

When you are thinking of creating your own impactful Phd defense presentation, keep these best practices in mind:

Condensing hours and hours of research can be daunting. Build an outline or table of contents first, then simply stick to that structure as you create your presentation.

It can be easy to get caught up in your research and findings, but don’t forget to answer critical questions like, ‘Why is this important?’ and ‘What results have you achieved?’

Remember: You aren’t recreating your entire thesis into a visual presentation. Limit the amount of content and data you add to each slide.

Your PhD defense presentation is your chance to share all of your hard work. Don’t be afraid to showcase bits of your personality throughout.

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The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your PhD Dissertation Defense Presentation

January 12, 2023

The Ultimate Guide for Preparing Your PhD Dissertation Defense Presentation

Chances are, you’ve been waiting years for this moment: preparing your PhD dissertation defense.

You’ve made it this far in your doctorate journey, so you’ll really want to nail the final thing standing between you and your PhD.

We’ll break down everything you need to know, from what the dissertation defense is to how to prepare and more importantly, succeed.

Here’s our ultimate guide for preparing for your PhD dissertation defense.

What Is a PhD Dissertation Defense Presentation?

A PhD dissertation defense is your chance to defend your work in front of the academics analyzing your research. You might also hear this called a “thesis defense.” 

Although the thought of having experts critique you in a cross-examination setting, a dissertation defense is just an opportunity for you to show off your best work .

What Is a PhD Dissertation Committee?

A PhD dissertation committee is a group you assemble to guide you through the dissertation process, from preparation to the revision of your dissertation. 

You choose the members of the committee after all the academic work is finalized. Usually, members will be trusted faculty — people you know well who you might consider a mentor. 

How to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense Presentation

Preparing for your PhD dissertation defense doesn’t have to be stressful. 

Try using Yoodli , an AI-powered speech coach that analyzes your speaking patterns and identifies areas in which you can improve. By practicing your dissertation defense presentation through Yoodli, you’ll be able to not only improve your speaking, but boost your confidence as well. 

For example, you can take an in-depth look at the filler words you use, including which ones come up the most often and precisely how often they come up.

The Ultimate Guide for Preparing Your PhD Dissertation Defense Presentation

Here are three more tips for preparing your PhD dissertation defense.

1. Don’t wait around.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when preparing your PhD dissertation defense is to start the work early. You won’t regret starting “too early” like you would regret starting the preparation too late in the game. 

Designing your presentation slides will take time and isn’t something you can slap together in a pinch. Right after your thesis is finalized, start on the slides. Your aim is to impress the committee with a thought-out, clear presentation that presents your work in a good light.

2. Practice, practice, practice.

It doesn’t matter how confident or comfortable you are with regard to your work and the actual PhD dissertation defense — you need to practice like your life depends on it. 

Be sure to practice not only the presentation, but also your body language, like hand gestures . You don’t want to seem too stiff or anxious during your dissertation defense, and practicing all these elements at once gives you an idea of what you need to work on. 

You’ll also want to work on your tone, to make sure you don’t come off as sounding monotonic . You want the committee members to feel interested and engaged. 

Taking one of Yoodli’s free public speaking courses — such as the fundamentals of public speaking — can also build on your confidence and make you feel more comfortable during the dissertation defense. 

Check out Yoodli’s 10-minute course here:

3. Check out other candidates’ presentations.

Sometimes, universities will offer open PhD dissertation defense presentations. If your university is one of them, it’s a great idea to attend a few . If your university doesn’t offer open dissertation presentations, check out other local universities that might offer these.

Watching other candidates’ presentations can help you not only get a firsthand look at how a presentation should (or shouldn’t!) go, but also to affirm that dissertation defense presentations aren’t as awful and scary as you might think they are. You might even get some insight or a few ideas for your own presentation while you’re at it.

The Bottom Line

Preparing for your PhD dissertation defense presentation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. After all, it’s all part of your doctorate journey . With preparation and practice, you can use this opportunity to shine and show off your best work. 

Start practicing with Yoodli.

Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.

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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doctoral dissertation defense slides

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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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: 2nd February 2024, 02:45 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. 

doctoral dissertation defense slides

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 Format

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. 

doctoral dissertation defense slides

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

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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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13 Tips to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense

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How well do you know your project? Years of experiments, analysis of results, and tons of literature study, leads you to how well you know your research study. And, PhD dissertation defense is a finale to your PhD years. Often, researchers question how to excel at their thesis defense and spend countless hours on it. Days, weeks, months, and probably years of practice to complete your doctorate, needs to surpass the dissertation defense hurdle.

In this article, we will discuss details of how to excel at PhD dissertation defense and list down some interesting tips to prepare for your thesis defense.

Table of Contents

What Is Dissertation Defense?

Dissertation defense or Thesis defense is an opportunity to defend your research study amidst the academic professionals who will evaluate of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes be like a cross-examination session, but in reality you need not fear the thesis defense process and be well prepared.


What are the expectations of committee members.

Choosing the dissertation committee is one of the most important decision for a research student. However, putting your dissertation committee becomes easier once you understand the expectations of committee members.

The basic function of your dissertation committee is to guide you through the process of proposing, writing, and revising your dissertation. Moreover, the committee members serve as mentors, giving constructive feedback on your writing and research, also guiding your revision efforts.

The dissertation committee is usually formed once the academic coursework is completed. Furthermore, by the time you begin your dissertation research, you get acquainted to the faculty members who will serve on your dissertation committee. Ultimately, who serves on your dissertation committee depends upon you.

Some universities allow an outside expert (a former professor or academic mentor) to serve on your committee. It is advisable to choose a faculty member who knows you and your research work.

How to Choose a Dissertation Committee Member?

  • Avoid popular and eminent faculty member
  • Choose the one you know very well and can approach whenever you need them
  • A faculty member whom you can learn from is apt.
  • Members of the committee can be your future mentors, co-authors, and research collaborators. Choose them keeping your future in mind.

How to Prepare for Dissertation Defense?

dissertation defense

1. Start Your Preparations Early

Thesis defense is not a 3 or 6 months’ exercise. Don’t wait until you have completed all your research objectives. Start your preparation well in advance, and make sure you know all the intricacies of your thesis and reasons to all the research experiments you conducted.

2. Attend Presentations by Other Candidates

Look out for open dissertation presentations at your university. In fact, you can attend open dissertation presentations at other universities too. Firstly, this will help you realize how thesis defense is not a scary process. Secondly, you will get the tricks and hacks on how other researchers are defending their thesis. Finally, you will understand why dissertation defense is necessary for the university, as well as the scientific community.

3. Take Enough Time to Prepare the Slides

Dissertation defense process harder than submitting your thesis well before the deadline. Ideally, you could start preparing the slides after finalizing your thesis. Spend more time in preparing the slides. Make sure you got the right data on the slides and rephrase your inferences, to create a logical flow to your presentation.

4. Structure the Presentation

Do not be haphazard in designing your presentation. Take time to create a good structured presentation. Furthermore, create high-quality slides which impresses the committee members. Make slides that hold your audience’s attention. Keep the presentation thorough and accurate, and use smart art to create better slides.

5. Practice Breathing Techniques

Watch a few TED talk videos and you will notice that speakers and orators are very fluent at their speech. In fact, you will not notice them taking a breath or falling short of breath. The only reason behind such effortless oratory skill is practice — practice in breathing technique.

Moreover, every speaker knows how to control their breath. Long and steady breaths are crucial. Pay attention to your breathing and slow it down. All you need I some practice prior to this moment.

6. Create an Impactful Introduction

The audience expects a lot from you. So your opening statement should enthrall the audience. Furthermore, your thesis should create an impact on the members; they should be thrilled by your thesis and the way you expose it.

The introduction answers most important questions, and most important of all “Is this presentation worth the time?” Therefore, it is important to make a good first impression , because the first few minutes sets the tone for your entire presentation.

7. Maintain Your Own List of Questions

While preparing for the presentation, make a note of all the questions that you ask yourself. Try to approach all the questions from a reader’s point of view. You could pretend like you do not know the topic and think of questions that could help you know the topic much better.

The list of questions will prepare you for the questions the members may pose while trying to understand your research. Attending other candidates’ open discussion will also help you assume the dissertation defense questions.

8. Practice Speech and Body Language

After successfully preparing your slides and practicing, you could start focusing on how you look while presenting your thesis. This exercise is not for your appearance but to know your body language and relax if need be.

Pay attention to your body language. Stand with your back straight, but relax your shoulders. The correct posture will give you the feel of self-confidence. So, observe yourself in the mirror and pay attention to movements you make.

9. Give Mock Presentation

Giving a trial defense in advance is a good practice. The most important factor for the mock defense is its similarity to your real defense, so that you get the experience that prepares for the actual defense.

10. Learn How to Handle Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. However, it is important to carry on. Do not let the mistakes affect your thesis defense. Take a deep breath and move on to the next point.

11. Do Not Run Through the Presentation

If you are nervous, you would want to end the presentation as soon as possible. However, this situation will give rise to anxiety and you will speak too fast, skipping the essential details. Eventually, creating a fiasco of your dissertation defense .

12. Get Plenty of Rest

Out of the dissertation defense preparation points, this one is extremely important. Obviously, sleeping a day before your big event is hard, but you have to focus and go to bed early, with the clear intentions of getting the rest you deserve.

13. Visualize Yourself Defending Your Thesis

This simple exercise creates an immense impact on your self-confidence. All you have to do is visualize yourself giving a successful presentation each evening before going to sleep. Everyday till the day of your thesis defense, see yourself standing in front of the audience and going from one point to another.

This exercise takes a lot of commitment and persistence, but the results in the end are worth it. Visualization makes you see yourself doing the scary thing of defending your thesis.

If you have taken all these points into consideration, you are ready for your big day. You have worked relentlessly for your PhD degree , and you will definitely give your best in this final step.

Have you completed your thesis defense? How did you prepare for it and how was your experience throughout your dissertation defense ? Do write to us or comment below.

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The tips are very useful.I will recomend it to our students.

Excellent. As a therapist trying to help a parent of a candidate, I am very impressed and thankful your concise, clear, action-oriented article. Thank you.

Thanks for your sharing. It is so good. I can learn a lot from your ideas. Hope that in my dissertation defense next time I can pass

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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


Phd defense slides and lessons learned.

In July this year I finally defended my PhD which mainly focused on (adversarial) robustness and uncertainty estimation in deep learning. In my case, the defense consisted of a (public) 30 minute talk about my work, followed by questions from the thesis committee and audience. In this article, I want to share the slides and some lessons learned in preparing for my defense.

My PhD defense marks the successdful end of a four year journey in machine learning and computer vision research. While defense vary widely across institutions and universities, I had to prepare a 30 minute talk that is followed by questions from the committee and audience. In addition to the difficulty of squeezing several papers into a 30 minute polished talk, there was also a significant delay between submitting and defending my PhD — roughly 4 months. While I can't share the final thesis yet, you can find my defense slides below, followed by some lessons learned in preparing for my defense.

doctoral dissertation defense slides

The slides include some GIFs, so with 27MB the download might take a second. Also, make sure to view them in a PDF viewer supporting animations:

Lessons Learned

Preparing for my defense took significantly longer than I initially estimated. I thought it could not be too hard to put together slides of all my projects, given that I already gave a few talks and had slides for most of my papers ready. However, preparing a polished talk that highlights achievements, giving a good high-level intuition while at the same time demonstrating technical knowledge, was incredibly difficult and took multiple iterations. Besides, I wanted to talk to steer the committee's questions to some extent and make sure I will stick to the 30 minute limit. Here are some lessons I learned surrounding the preparation:

  • Start preparing early enough: Even though I thought the preparation to take less time, I took some long weekends roughly one and a half months before the defense to start preparing the slides. Looking back, this was a great decision as I ended up working on my slides until the last couple of days before the defense.
  • Schedule a practice talk: In my case, a practice talk really made a huge difference. Initially, I included too much content in my slides and it was good to get objective feedback on what to focus on, where more details and time is required and which topics can be covered with less details. I had the practice talk two weeks before the defense and I really used these two weeks to improve my presentation.
  • Practice: Before the practice talk, I practiced the talk and timed it to the minute. This really came in handy in the end because it reduced stress as I knew exactly how to start or get back into the talk on each slide. During the talk this was also helpful as interruptions didn't break the flow of my presentation.
  • Backup slides: Even though I did not end up using most of my backup slides, preparing them helped me to think about potential questions that the committee might ask.
  • Test the setup: A day before the defense, I tested the technical setup. As my defense was hybrid, there was a lot that could go wrong — the virtual meeting room, the microphone etc. It really reduced stress to have it tested once before the defense. Some things that are important to keep in mind is that the setup should also take into account discussion and questions of the committee/audience which are sometimes difficult to handle in a hybrid setting.

Regarding the content of the talk, I found the following to work well — and I found a similar scheme can be found in many other defenses, as well:

  • Fuse motivation with the outline: I ended up putting a lot of effort into a good motivation of my talk that also happened to reflect the outline of my talk. This really helped to tell a consistent high-level story throughout the talk.
  • Highligh achievements: I feel that it was important to highlight the papers that I have published over the years — even those not included in the talk.
  • Technical detail: For two projects, I decided to go into technical detail. While I did not have many technical questions, I got the impression that this was expected by the commitee. Of course, it was tricky to decide which projects to highlight in detail as this usually means that all other projects can only be covered on a higher level.
  • Ignore some projects: In order to go into technical detail for few projects, I decided to not talk about three of my papers. I just mentioned this line of work in my conclusion and the introduction. Initially, I found it difficult to let go of these parts, but it helped to improve the focus of the talk.
  • Have some slides on future work: An easy way to steer the discussion/questions after the defense talk are future work topics. Also, I found that these slides can be used to end the talk on a positive note by expressing your excitement about future research — note that I had these slides after the conclusion.


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Sample Dissertation Defense Presentation Powerpoint Presentation Slides

Introducing Sample Dissertation Défense Presentation PowerPoint Presentation Slides that can help you to gain the panels attention. The dissertation Défense is an important milestone for students as it is required to complete a graduate degree. Thesis and Défense dissertation PPT slides provide the flow of structure to present thesis, it also helps you to keep your data organized. The structure of dissertation PowerPoint complete deck contains templates such as agenda, outline, project title, introduction, literature review, purpose statement, hypothesis, methods, statically analysis, results, bar graph, pie chart, discussion, study limitations, conclusion findings, the implications for future research, reference, etc. MBA students can use this for their final projects, they can save their time and efforts on making their presentation from scratch. Download thesis proposal PPT layout to make a visually appealing presentation. Give them a detailed account of your expertise with our dissertation ppt Slides. They are an excellent briefing aid.

Sample Dissertation Defense Presentation Powerpoint Presentation Slides

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Slide 1 : This slide introduces Sample Dissertation Defense Presentation. State your company name and get started. Slide 2 : This is an Agenda slide. Showcase your agendas here. Slide 3 : This slide showcases Thesis Presentation Outline with- Title Slide, Introduction, Purpose, Methods, Statistical Analysis, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, Reference Slide. Slide 4 : This is a Title Slide to display- Your Title Project, Your Name, Degrees/Certification, Thesis Advisor Name. Slide 5 : This is an Introduction slide with three points to state/ display- Provide Background On Topic, Cite With Supporting Literature, Establish The Need For Your Research (Point Out The Gap). Slide 6 : This slide presents Literature Review. You can mention your theories here. Slide 7 : This slide presents Purpose Statement with imagery. Slide 8 : This is a Hypothesis slide. You can state your hypothesis in the given text boxes. Slide 9 : This slide presents a list of three Methods- State Study Design, Define Groups, Participant Demographics. Slide 10 : This slide also showcases Methods which further include these three categories- Procedures Processing, Independent Dependent Variables, Instrumentation, Surveys, Equipment. Slide 11 : This slide shows Statistical Analysis with TUKEY HSD Test table. Slide 12 : This slide also shows Statistical Analysis table. Use it as per your need. Slide 13 : This is Results slide. You can present your company results with this slide. Slide 14 : This slide showcases Column Chart with which you can compare the products. Slide 15 : This slide showcases Bar Diagram. Compare the products with this. Slide 16 : This is a Pie Chart slide to show Product 01, Product 02, Product 03 and Product 04 comparison etc. Slide 17 : This is a Discussion slide. You can discuss about your company/ products etc. here. Slide 18 : This slide presents Limitations Of Your Study. Mention them in the given text boxes. Slide 19 : This slide presents Conclusions / Findings. Add relevant content in this. Slide 20 : This slide states Implications For Future Research. List them here as per the researches done. Slide 21 : This is References slide. State your references here. Slide 22 : This is Any Questions slide to present your queries, questions etc. Slide 23 : This slide is titled Additional Slides to move forward. You can change the slide content as per need. Slide 24 : This is Vision & Mission slide to show your Vision, Mission and Goals. Slide 25 : This slide showcases Our Team with Name and Designation to fill. Slide 26 : This is an About Us slide showing Target Audiences, Values Client, and Preferred by Many as examples. Slide 27 : This slide shows Our Goal. State goals etc. here. Slide 28 : This is a Comparison slide for comparing entities/ products etc. here. Slide 29 : This is a Financial score slide. State financial aspects etc. here. Slide 30 : This is a Quotes slide to convey company messages, beliefs etc. You can change the slide contents as per need. Slide 31 : This is a Dashboard slide to state metrics, kpis etc. Slide 32 : This is a Location slide on a world map image to show global presence, growth etc. Slide 33 : This is a Timeline slide to show evolution, growth, milestones etc. Slide 34 : This slide showcases Post It Notes to be displayed. Show events, important piece of information, events etc. here. Slide 35 : This is a News Paper slide to flash company event, news or anything to highlight. Slide 36 : This is a Puzzle pieces image slide to show information, specifications etc. Slide 37 : This is a Target image slide. State targets, etc. here. Slide 38 : This is a Circular image slide. State specifications, information here. Slide 39 : This is a Venn diagram image slide to show information, specifications etc. Slide 40 : This is a Mind map image slide to show information, specifications etc. Slide 41 : This is a Matrix slide to show information, specifications etc. Slide 42 : This is a Bulb With Idea image slide to show ideas, innovative information etc. Slide 43 : This is a Thank You slide with Address# street number, city, state, Contact Numbers, Email Address.

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PhD Dissertation

Phd dissertation presentation, free google slides theme and powerpoint template.

In order to achieve the highest academic degree there is, you need the best presentation for your dissertation. Years of hard work will pay off with this free template by Slidesgo, which can help you focus on your message without having to worry about the visual design.

The color palette is neutral, as it plays with gray, conveying maturity. You’ll find several inspiring pictures with a grayish blue filter, and these come with a nice variety of topics that reinforce the human side of things. Use our slides to place quotes, tables, timelines and graphs to properly display references, data, schedule and statistics. You’ll find it very easy to distribute your text within the composition, and the typography focuses on seriousness and stability. Everyone will soon address you as Doctor!

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