One of my favourite scenes, in one of my favourite movies, is when Yoda is trying to teach Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.
Luke is learning to be a Jedi, but is not finished. He can lift rocks and small objects with his mind, but dismisses the possibility of lifting his X-Wing when it is stuck in a swamp. He argues, “Lifting rocks is one thing, this is totally different!”
Master Yoda responds in his signature style:
“No! No different! Only different in your mind….”
And he’s right. Luke isn’t using muscle to lift rocks, he’s using the Force. Why should a tiny rock be any different than a spaceship?
In the viva you have to respond to your examiners’ questions, as well as you can. How is that different from any other time someone would ask a question about your work? At a conference, in a meeting, passing someone in the corridor, you can be asked questions – unexpected or familiar – all of the time. And the best thing you would do, in response, is try to answer as well as you can.
It’s no different in the viva.
The time, the space, the people who are asking, the questions – they might be different. But what you need to do is exactly the same. Respond to the question as well as you can.
The viva is important. That makes the situation different.
The outcome is important. That makes the situation different.
You could be more nervous than a friend asking you an unexpected question. That makes the situation different.
You could be nervous because of who your examiners are. That makes the situation different.
But the method is always the same. Respond to the question as well as you can.
The viva is only different in your mind….