The Second Question

I love delivering my Viva Survivor session, partly because it helps people, partly because I get to try new things and develop the session more every time, and partly because I’m always kept on my toes by questions from participants. Just before the summer someone asked me, “What’s the second question likely to be in the viva?”

It really made me think. What could I say as a useful answer? I can’t predict the second question, of course, no-one can, but I don’t think the person asking it thought that I could. So what might they be looking for? What might they need?

I said something like this:

It might be could you say more about your contribution? or who do you see your key influences as being? or that’s interesting, why do you say that?

It depends on the first question, the first answer, the thoughts and opinions of your examiners and a lot of other factors.

You can’t control all of these factors, and you can’t know what your first answer is until you experience your first question and then talk.

But whatever your second (or first or fifteenth) question is, remember that you’re well-placed to give a good answer.

You didn’t just appear in the viva. And it’s not just any viva: it’s your viva. You did the thinking. You did the work. You wrote the thesis.

You can answer the second (or first or fifteenth) question.