Breaking The Ice

It’s natural to be a little nervous at the start of the viva. You and your examiners want it to go well, and everyone probably has a sense that as long as it starts well things will be fine. Examiners often have definite ideas of how they are going to start the viva.

They may have key questions to open proceedings. Later they may be happy to let the discussion go where it needs to, but to begin with they want a question they know will give the candidate a chance to shine. Not a question you need to have a pre-prepared answer for, but something you will surely have thought about and talked about before. It acts as a way to break the ice.

Sometimes examiners invite the candidate to give a presentation to start the viva. There’s nothing negative about this request: it’s simply one way to get things going. While there could be some nervousness around presenting, it can be a useful opportunity as it gives the candidate some control about how the viva begins. Again, once those first few minutes have passed without serious problem, the level of nerves and stress in the room can drop.

Getting going is one of the hardest parts of the viva. There are different ways that it can start, but don’t forget to do what you can to manage your own nerves and confidence at the beginning. It’s not all up to chance.