A common fear: what if your mind goes blank in the viva?

You could erm your way through a response: “Erm, well, I think, erm, hmm, that’s… Hmm, erm, if…”

You could waffle your way to freedom: “…in conclusion, as I said five minutes ago, in response to your particularly excellent query, that if we consider Foucault’s method – and there are several good reasons to do so, first of all…”

You could throw a smokebomb in the centre of the room and escape in the confusion: actually, no you can’t. Don’t do that.

Or you could: take a breath; ask your examiner to repeat the question; have a sip of water; breathe; think about your research; think about what you’ve done when confronted with a similar problem before; ask for a moment to think.

If your mind goes blank, then take your time. It’s OK. You can do this. It’s better than saying erm a lot or waffling to distract your examiners. And much better than throwing a smokebomb down.