As I was setting up one of my last Viva Survivor sessions before social distancing (three months ago!), one of the participants piped up, “Are you here to put the fear of God into us?”
The room had been quiet, and tense with the What’s-all-this-about-then?-wonderings that seminar rooms have before training or workshops. Her question cut through and made everyone smile.
The tension of a room of people was eased with a single question.
There are lots of tensions surrounding the viva:
- The tension between being an expert and being examined;
- The tension from the upcoming change of state, candidate to graduate;
- The tension between of the unknown elements of the viva;
- The tension between the nerves you probably feel and the confidence you want to have.
It’s important to realise the tensions first, before you try to do something about them. They’re the reason for your actions – a big to-do list won’t get done well unless you get to the causes behind the needs.
General tensions aside, reflect on what’s troubling you about the viva, then explore what you can do about it. And as the person from one of my last seminar-room sessions did, perhaps all you need to do is find the right question to ask.