Viva preparation is a short term project. You don’t need to start getting ready before you submit. You don’t need to focus your final year on building up for the viva. If you have a long time to go before submission you need to focus on finishing your research and your thesis. That has to be the priority.
You do not have to do anything to prepare for your viva until after submission. However, confidence plays such a big part in feeling ready for the viva it feels right to suggest a few things you could do over a long period of time. If in your final year you want to build your confidence then try some of the following:
- Make opportunities to present your work.
- Reflect on your progress once per week.
- Record your successes as they happen.
- Write down any tasks, activities or situations where you feel confident.
As you get closer to the viva, reflect on all of these. Presenting and discussing work gets better with practice. The more experience you have the better you will feel. Reflecting and recording your PhD journey will help to highlight that you are doing well; you’re building a firm foundation for confidence. Finally, if you know the times when you feel confident you can use that to your advantage in your viva preparations.
Short term prep is the work of weeks. Read your thesis, write a summary or two, have a mock viva. Long term prep is the work of your life. Pause, reflect and realise that you are a lot better than your worst moments.
You have done well, you can do well, you will succeed in the viva – and beyond.