What if it gets silent in my viva?

A small question I’m asked from time to time. A candidate hears that the viva is a discussion; discussions involve talking and so if the talking stops then it’s not going well, right? What happens as a consequence if that happens?!


The viva is important. Important things make people nervous. Sometimes nervous people worry about things more than is needed.

Silence in the viva isn’t good or bad. It just is. Silence is a pause. Silence is a sip of water. Silence is thinking or checking. Silence is a part of a discussion or conversation!

Silence might not be comfortable. If you are nervous – and you might be – then the best thing to do is work instead of worry. Have a mock viva. Have conversations with friends where they ask you about your work. Practice and rehearse so that silence isn’t something you avoid but something you respond to.

Silence might be a part of your viva, naturally and in some ways necessarily. Rehearse so that you can manage to keep going in those quiet moments.