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How to Make Your Thesis Defense Speech Successful

Student Defending Thesis

Defense of the thesis is a very important step on the way to obtaining a diploma. After all, the thesis must not only be written but also defended. Therefore, you need to prepare a speech on defense carefully.

Speech of Defense Structure

When making a report for the thesis defense, it is always necessary to start with three questions that you need to ask yourself:

  • What purpose do I set conveying this message; What do I want to achieve?
  • What should my listeners know if this goal is to be achieved?
  • How long will it take me to present my ideas?

If possible, prepare in advance materials or handouts for visual demonstration: Stands, slides, graphs, tables, or charts. These all should confirm your arguments and reasoning.

Defense of a graduate qualification work is held at an open meeting of the examination committee. In this case, the graduate is given only 5-10 minutes, so you need to be very brief and not abuse the attention and time of those present.

Speech must consist of three parts:

  1. Introduction;
  2. Main part;
  3. Conclusion.

The introduction includes, first of all, the relevance of the topic, the goals, and the objectives. In addition, at the beginning of the report, one should always turn to the members of the commission.

Three main functions of the entering speech are as following:

  1. The introduction should attract the attention of the audience;
  2. The introduction should create a feeling of mutual trust and sympathy between the orator and listeners;
  3. The introduction should give the audience a reason to listen to the speaker further.

The main part contains the central points of the thesis. The report should not be overloaded with a detailed consideration of theoretical aspects. You just need to identify the basis and express your opinion on the theoretical grounds.

After this, you should proceed to the analysis of the object and the subject of the thesis. In the speech, a brief description of the object of research is given and the main results of the subject analysis are listed.

Then, the transition to recommendations and/or project activities developed in the thesis is made. The main part occupies about 70% of the speech time.

The conclusion contains the main findings obtained. Usually, 5-10% of the total time of the speech is allotted for the conclusion. The three main functions of the conclusion in a speech:

  • Summing up the speech (a brief summary of the main points of speech);
  • The overall conclusion of the speech (the conclusion should create a feeling in the listeners that the performance is coming to the end. People feel the psychological need for a clearly defined end of speech);
  • The creation of the last impression (it is necessary to finish on a positive note and be emotional).
Nervous Student Makes Public Speech

Typical errors in the conclusion to be avoided:

  1. Do not exceed the time limit;
  2. Do not go into details;
  3. You cannot raise new problems at the end of the speech;
  4. You never have to admit that you forgot to say something.

In that regard, in the student’s speech on the defense of the graduate qualification work of the bachelor or master, you surely must:

  • indicate the degree of relevance and novelty of work;
  • clearly formulate the goals and objectives of the research;
  • identify the problems of the study and indicate the main issues raised in the work;
  • determine the degree of independence in the search for material, the methodology for its analysis;
  • briefly mention the main scientific literature used (the most prominent "scientists" so to say);
  • describe the methods of scientific research in the thesis;
  • define the structure of the work, the main content of its chapters, and sections;
  • note the completeness of the topic explored;
  • highlight the theoretical and practical significance of the results of the study;
  • reveal the author's (your) mastering of a set of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the chosen specialty;
  • to propose a number of measures (rationalization proposals) to improve the investigated problem.

Thesis Defense: Non-Verbal Communication

  • Be sure to maintain eye contact with the entire audience;
  • Avoid fidget movements; it distracts listeners;
  • Remember that a person usually looks more confident than he or she thinks;
  • If possible, stand up. Standing speakers are listened more intently than sitting ones.
  • At the beginning of the speech, tilt your head slightly, smile, and slowly look around those present in the room.
  • Take a stable position, evenly distributing the weight of the body on both legs.
  • The back should be straight but not tense so that the air can freely enter the lungs.
  • Slightly raise your chin, so that the sound of your voice goes to the listeners, not to the floor.
  • Mind the gestures if you are used to them.

Speech Aspects

Backstage Standing Man

To effectively speak during the thesis defense, you need to know the rule of three A:

  • Awareness of the audience’s needs;
  • Attention to the structure of your message;
  • Ability to cope with nervousness.

Having compiled the text of your report or speech on, it is necessary to answer the following questions before making a speech:

  1. Is the structure of my speech on defense logical?
  2. Does it have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Is it structured in such a way that it will be easy and convenient for me to expound it?
  3. Did I avoid the words and phrases that would be difficult to pronounce or difficult to understand?
  4. Are my proposals supported by precise facts and figures?
  5. Will my audience understand the terms used?
  6. Is every word in my message correct and accurate?
  7. Does my message lead to a clear and memorable conclusion?

One More Time About Conclusion

Briefly, list the findings made at the conclusion of the thesis. Summarize the general conclusion based on the results of the thesis. In the extraordinary majority of works, this is a positive result, which will be achieved after the implementation of all proposed activities.

After that, conclude your speech. Typically, this is a generally accepted expression and there are no pitfalls here – everything is simple. The speech on the thesis defense can be concluded with the words: Thank you for your attention!

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