My viva was sixteen years ago today.

I’ve written about it many times over the last seven years on the blog and spoken about it probably thousands of times in seminars. For whatever they’re worth, here are sixteen things I remember about my viva day:

  1. I was tired.
  2. I was nervous because I was so tired, but this feeling only came ten minutes before we started.
  3. My examiners were friendly, polite and professional.
  4. My examiners were clearly prepared.
  5. I was very prepared!
  6. My examiners had asked me to prepare a presentation, but started asking me questions while I was working through that.
  7. I remained standing by the chalkboard for the entirety of my four hour viva.
    • Note: I have never met anyone else in the last sixteen years who has had this experience!
  8. My examiners had a lot of questions for me.
  9. My examiners had specific criticisms of the structure of my thesis.
  10. My examiners were fair with their questions and gave me plenty of space to respond.
  11. My viva had a single break around the 2 hour and 30 minute mark.
  12. I remember only one panic-inducing moment when a particular statement from my internal examiner really caught me off-guard: In Chapter 7 you detail your failure at something. That’s interesting.
  13. I felt exhausted as we got to the end…
  14. …but those four hours did seem to go by very quickly.
  15. My examiners asked me to leave the room and I then spent a slightly-nervous seventeen minutes waiting for them to call me back in.
  16. My examiners told me I had passed with minor corrections and congratulated me.

Sixteen things after sixteen years.

What do you think you’ll remember in the years after your viva?

What do you want your viva to be like?

What will you do to steer your viva to be closer to how you imagine?