Webinar: 7 Reasons @ 7pm

A little webinar update!

I’m running my 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva session next Tuesday, 2nd March 2021. 7 Reasons is my 1-hour webinar all about why you can feel confident for your viva, exploring some of the things you can do to be ready, as well as giving space for you to ask any questions you have about the process.

I’ve run the session many times since I developed it last year but this will be the first time I’ve delivered it in the evening, rather than the middle of the day. I’ve heard previously from several people who were interested in the session, but couldn’t attend at 11am.

So I started looked for a date in my diary for 7 Reasons @ 7pm! 🙂

I’ve heard from past participants of the session just how valuable it’s been for them as they come to the conclusion of their PhD journey. I’m happy I have the space to continue to offer this support. 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva is one of the things I’m glad I’ve been able to make out of the last year.

Registration is open now, and there’s an earlybird discount for anyone who books soon. If your viva is sometime this year then I think this session will really help you. Take a look at the session details here and if you have any questions, simply get in touch via email or Twitter.

I hope to see you at 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva next week! 🙂

 

PS: I have more sessions coming up in the next few months! Check out what’s coming soon at this my Eventbrite page.

Contribution Matters

Not which papers you didn’t read, or which things you got stuck on. Not the title of your supervisor or the uni you did your undergrad at.

Your significant, original contribution matters. What did you do? How did you do it? Why did you do it?

Be prepared to have a conversation in your viva that explores this new, valuable something that you have. Consider what you could do in your preparation to help you explain, explore and share this contribution that you have made.

Six Half-Hours Of Prep

Thirty minutes is a meaningful block of time to move you closer to being ready for your viva. There’s lots you could do. Set a timer and then:

  1. Read your thesis. Focus on a particular section to help you think and remember, or just go gently through your big book of good stuff to help you remember the flow of your work.
  2. Bookmark important passages. Take a dozen Post-it Notes or sticky tabs and go exploring. Find the best bits and make them stand out.
  3. List ten important references. Capture the papers that have helped your work the most. Write down title, author, journal and year of publication – as well as a few sentences for why each reference has helped you.
  4. Explore your examiners. Check who they are. Check their interests and make notes. Check their recent papers and make notes. Look for common threads or ideas.
  5. Write a 1-paragraph summary of your research. Condense it down to a few sentences. Can you think of three keywords that you would have to use in any conversation to describe it?
  6. Zoom with a friend. Give them a 5-minute overview of your research, then ask them if they have questions.

Half an hour might not be long, but it’s enough to make a difference to how ready you are for your viva.

One Month

For a reduced-pressure, easy-going period of viva preparation you might need a month.

Between thirty minutes and an hour of work each day will cover you.

Read your thesis at least once. Make notes and additions to help your thesis be even more useful in the viva. Write a summary or two. Check references and useful literature. Simple, deliberate, scholarly work that builds on the thousands of hours you’ve invested already.

Rehearsing for the viva itself – with a mock or having conversations with friends – might take a little longer than an hour, but for the most part you need only a month of short work periods.

Sketch a plan. Gather your supplies. Build your confidence with thirty days of small differences, small improvements on the great place you’ve already arrived at.

The First Step

Getting ready for the viva could take twenty hours of work spaced out over several weeks.

What’s the first task on your list?

  • Gathering stationery supplies?
  • Reading the first page?
  • Chatting to your supervisor?
  • Clicking for a random piece of advice from a pretty good blog about the viva?
  • Asking a friend for help?
  • Or something else?

You might have worries about the viva or preparing, but once you take your first step you’re on your way to success.

What will your first step be?

Webinar: 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva

A little webinar update!

I’m running my 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva session next Monday, 8th February 2021. It’s a 1-hour webinar all about why you can feel confident for your viva, exploring some of the things you can do to be ready, as well as giving space for you to ask any questions you have about the process.

I’ve run it many times since I developed it last spring, during the first UK lockdown, and it’s a real thrill to be able to offer it again. I’ve heard from people how valuable it’s been for them as they come to the conclusion of their PhD journey and am so happy I have the space to continue to offer this support. In a strange, weird and sometimes-awful time, 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva is one of the things I’m happiest I’ve been able to do in the last year.

Registration is open now, and there’s an earlybird discount for anyone who books before midnight tomorrow. If your viva is sometime this year then I think this session will really help you. Take a look at the session details here – if you have any questions, simply get in touch via email or Twitter.

I hope to see you at 7 Reasons You’ll Pass Your Viva next week! 🙂

 

PS: I have more sessions coming up in the next few months! Check out what’s coming soon at this hub page.

Take A Blank Page

You can do a lot with one blank sheet of paper to help your viva prep.

You could write “What’s important?” as a provocation to get you thinking about what really matters in your thesis. Respond to the prompt using the rest of the page.

You could divide a blank page into three and capture responses to each of the following questions:

  • Why does your work matter?
  • How did you do your research?
  • What are your best results or conclusions?

Taken together, these create a good summary of your research.

With a single sheet of A4 paper, you could make a list of ten references that have really helped your research.

Or cut the paper up into ten bookmarks to help you navigate your thesis.

Or just put it in your printer and print a copy of The tiny book of viva prep from the Resources page!

A blank page can be intimidating before you do something – but you don’t have to do a lot to get something valuable.

Do More

Viva prep is more.

More reading to help you remember and recall what you need.

More writing to help you bring everything together.

More thinking to help you figure out that you’re ready.

But, for all of these and everything else you do to prepare, only a little more – only a little more work, a little more effort, a little more time. You don’t need much. Not by the time you’ve submitted. Not with so much done already.

 

A little contrast to this post from November 2020.

Bottlenecks

When you plan your viva prep, look for things that could slow your progress.

  • Creating summaries might not be rewarding unless you’ve read your thesis first.
  • Anticipating examiner questions won’t be possible until after you’ve learned about their research.
  • Building a set of expectations can only come after you’ve asked others about their viva experiences.

As you plan your prep consider what will help later work. You can choose where you direct your thoughts and efforts. Choose carefully so that you don’t have to over-invest your time. Plan clearly so that you don’t have to do more than is necessary.

Imperfect Prep

Your prep will be imperfect. Getting ready for the viva, there’s no way to account for every bit of information you might need. You can’t anticipate every question you could conceivably be asked by your examiners.

Your prep is built on layers of imperfection too. Your research won’t be perfect. Your skills will not all be at their absolute peak. There will always be ways to make your thesis better.

In all of these things, you don’t need perfection. Your prep doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to make you ready. It needs to make you good enough.

Your prep, while imperfect, can help make you ready for anything you’ll find in your viva.