I often tell people to do X, Y or Z in order to prepare for the viva, or give some idea of what to do to feel ready. I also like an idea that I first encountered via Tim Ferriss, the “Not-To-Do List“. Tim’s list is aimed at reducing bad habits and improving performance, but the basic idea could be helpful in other areas. I can think of a few things not-to-do when it comes to preparing for and thinking about the viva:

  • Don’t let your examiners be strangers; it’s useful to know who they are and something about them.
  • Don’t listen to horror stories; bad viva experiences are not the norm.
  • Don’t focus on hypothetical questions from examiners; you can’t anticipate everything, so focus on what you can do.
  • Don’t leave prep to the last minute; it takes a couple of weeks to get ready.
  • Don’t obsess about what it could be like; focus on how well you can meet the challenge of your viva.

And don’t forget who the expert is on your research: you!