Can You Hear Me?

I’ve said those four words probably hundreds of times since the start of the pandemic and my shift to working from home.

For any webinar that I deliver I have to produce joining instructions way in advance. Then I check my slides and notes the day before (and on the day) to see what needs updating. I draft follow-up emails beforehand, do a quick run-through of key points, check all of the tech is working well and make sure I have my water bottle filled. I check I have my notes, I check if my wife is going to be home while I’m delivering the session. Then I get things going and finally I ask,

“Can you hear me?”

There’s a lot of really practical steps to delivering one of my sessions.

And I also write out an overview each time even though my notes are onscreen for me to see. I write out a five-point list of things to remember and focus me that is the same for every session. I listen to a short playlist of music that gives me energy and helps me to feel confident. I have a picture on my desk that my daughter made for me, and a small paperweight that is comforting to hold at times while I talk to everyone through the camera.

There’s a lot of really personal steps to delivering one of my sessions.

The practical steps are necessary because I couldn’t do the work at all without them. The personal steps are necessary because I wouldn’t feel like me and I couldn’t do the work as well without them.

Over the course of a PhD, a postgraduate researcher has to do the work. They have to do the research and practical steps that lead them to completion. But to feel right they also have to pay attention to the personal work that can help them feel confident about their ability.


For your viva, you have to have done the practical steps for your research and the personal steps for you and your confidence, just like I do for delivering a webinar.

Does that make sense? Can you hear me?