Clear (To You)

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide…


A few weeks ago I was half-humming, half-singing Bohemian Rhapsody as I was tidying up.

“What’s that?!” asked my seven-year-old daughter.

I started singing the song properly. I stayed in tune. I know the words pretty well and thought I did a good job.

When I stopped, I waited for applause and appreciation.

My daughter said, “No, what was that? I don’t know that. Is it new? Or is it really old?”

She could hear all the words, catch the tune, see her dad making a bit of a fool of himself (that’s standard operating procedure), but was at a loss for trying to really get what she was listening to. She’d never heard Bohemian Rhapsody, was unfamiliar with that kind of song or style of music, and so all she got from my virtuoso performance was confusion.

Whereas I thought I was being very clear!


Consider, as you prepare for the viva, where you feel you’re clear – in your thinking, in your knowledge, in how you communicate your research – and explore what you could do both to check how clear you are and improve how clear you are. Share your research with friends and ask them about what they understand and what they want to know more about. It’s not enough that you get it: check that they get enough of what you’re trying to share.

You know a lot and can do a lot to have got this far through your PhD. Now check how clear you are when communicating with others – something you’ll have to do when you meet your examiners in the viva.


Any way the wind blows…