A while back I published a post, The Fourth Option, which summarised how candidates could respond to tricky questions in the viva. This was specifically about situations where a question seems hard to respond to, or even perhaps seems unfair, but I think that some of the same thinking can be extended to the more general idea of responding to questions in the viva.
There’s so much narrative about the viva that describes it as an overly negative experience, that it’s no wonder candidates think it will be a struggle, some kind of conflict, some kind of ordeal. And then candidates believe the dialogue with their examiners will lead to them freezing, fleeing or fighting.
The fourth option, figuring things out, extends to the whole viva as well. If a candidate does away with narratives of conflicts and trials, if they instead focus on the viva as a chance to talk, a chance to defend their choices, an opportunity to discuss their work with their examiners, then the best way suggests itself. You can do the work, you can prepare, you can be ready, and then you can figure it out.
Far better than worrying you’ll freeze, or assume you’ll need to run away or fight. Like a lot of your PhD, you can figure out what to do in your viva when you find yourself there.