Home Blog Presentation Ideas How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation

How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation

proposal presentation defense

Writing a thesis is stressful, but preparing an oral defense can be even more painful. But it doesn’t have to be; with proper preparation and a good presentation, you will be able to better equip yourself comes time to present your thesis defense.

But what makes a good thesis defense?

A proper presentation helps you with your thesis defense because it helps you capture the panels’ attention and gives you cues and reminders on what to say as well.

It also helps keep your data organized while visually looking good and provides a flow structure for the rest of your presentation.

In today’s article, we will be giving you The Right PowerPoint Templates for Your Thesis Defense and a powerful outline composed of best practices and layouts specifically designed to help you defend your thesis in both written and oral presentations.

In the next segments of this article, we’ll walk you through the most feasible process on how to ace this kind of presentation.

Let’s dive into the outline of what makes a great thesis defense.

Thesis Defense Overview

Similarities.

  • Type of Degree

Thesis and Dissertation Distinction Varies on Location

Three most common thesis defense myths, how to use chatgpt to structure your thesis.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Acknowledgements
  • Questions and Answers
  • Contact Information
  • Tips During Your Oral Defense
  • More Quick Tips on How to Present

A thesis defense is composed of two parts – a thesis and a defense.

The thesis, according to Grad School Hub , represents a student’s collective understanding of his or her program and major.

Universities often include a thesis in every course as one of the final requirements to earn a particular graduate or postgraduate degree.

The thesis, however, isn’t just a mere requirement.

It helps the students to grow out of their shell from their respective discipline and give them the opportunity to present all the findings of their study.

Moreover, some people think a thesis is just a long essay, but it’s not. Unlike an essay, a thesis needs to assert something.

This can be considered one of the most crucial research documents that a student makes during their academic schooling .

On the other hand, defense is the presentation of the pieces of evidence to support and prove your research.

It’s the most essential part of the thesis process.

Your presentation has to be prepared to answer questions from members of the committee and any other panel present, and it’s your job to convince them and defend your thesis with ample proof.

Prior to presenting, you have to carefully determine what appropriate evidence should be presented before the panel, depending on what thesis you have to defend.

proposal presentation defense

Thesis and Dissertation Distinguished

A thesis or dissertation is usually required to complete a particular graduate degree. These two words are often used interchangeably by most students when referring to research studies.

But while being almost similar in format or structure, it’s worth noting that they have significant differences that set them apart from each other.

The very reason why thesis and dissertation are treated the same is that these two are both extensive papers. Not just merely long essays like what others are claiming.

Both of these papers are extensive. This is why students are given ample time, usually the entire last semester of the last year of study, to complete all the requirements and finally acquire their degree.

With regards to structure, both papers are very similar with few differences.

Differences Between Thesis and Dissertation

One of the significant differences between the two is to whom the paper is assigned. A thesis is usually required for those students earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While a dissertation is for those, who want to obtain a doctorate degree.

However, not all students taking a master’s degree are required to make a thesis. Prior to their enrollment, they have been given a choice of whether they’ll go for a non-thesis program or with a thesis.

Those who have a plan to escalate their degree to a doctorate eventually should take the path of a thesis. This is to prepare themselves for a more extensive dissertation requirement as doctorate students. Otherwise, they will be only limited to earning a master’s degree.

paths to degrees diagram

But above all, the most significant difference between the two papers is the purpose for which it is written.

A thesis, like what has been mentioned above, is being done by students obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree and has the purpose of testing their understanding of the discipline they’re engaged with.

A thesis is focused on obtaining technical expertise.

On the other hand, a dissertation is made for students to come up with an original study that other researchers haven’t already studied.

Path to a Doctoral Degree

USA: In the United States of America, they consider a thesis shorter than a dissertation. In fact, aside from being a requirement to graduate in college, a thesis is now also inculcated in master’s degree programs. And since the dissertation is more extensive, the thesis is treated as preliminary in gaining a doctorate degree.

Europe: The distinction between the two papers is almost opposite to that of the USA. In Europe, a dissertation is only a broader research study from a post-graduate program and not the making of original research. Instead, educational systems in the said continent treat the doctoral thesis as a more elaborate paper writing.

PPT Template Thesis vs Dissertation

The difference between a thesis and a dissertation might not seem that big, but it’s important that we know what makes them different.

If your upcoming defense gives you pressure and uneasiness, it could be cause you are not sure what to expect. Today we will dispel three common thesis defense myths that will help you be more confident in your presentation.

“Answer all the questions correctly. Otherwise, your thesis won’t get approved.”

You are expected to have a focus on your research.

That being said, you have to study each part of your thesis, every detail, and even your sources.

You have to study and practice how to effectively deliver your presentation.

But don’t overthink to the extent that you’re stressing yourself to know everything perfectly.

Don’t overstress if you can’t answer one of the questions, this doesn’t necessarily mean the committee won’t approve your thesis.

You should know that research is a continuous study.

So you should expect that your committee will always be able to find a gap in your study to fill in future related research .

So in times you don’t exactly know the answer, admit it, and you’ll learn as they give their sides or suggestions.

Making up an answer will only displease your committee, so it’s to be upfront, honest, and transparent.

“The committee is just there to find holes in your study. They don’t care about you.”

One of the typical descriptions students have of the committee is that they are just there to poke holes in your thesis.

Going in with this perspective makes standing before them a nerve-wracking experience.

They’re not your enemy.

In fact, they are there to help you polish your study.

They might challenge you with difficult suggestions and tricky questions.

In the end, they will walk you through the process to come up with better results that won’t only benefit you but also your research.

They care about you and your study, and they’re ultimately there to make your thesis and the research better.  Separate yourself from your work look at it objectively, and don’t take their comments personally .

“If your thesis defense isn’t successful, you have to start your thesis all over again”

An unsuccessful defense is one of the worst-case fears most students have.

One thing that you should be aware of is when you aren’t able to please your committee, you don’t need to start a new thesis again or go back to square one with your existing paper.

It’s unusual that your committee will ask you to change your topic and start from scratch again.

The fact that you’ve been permitted to defend your study means your research is almost complete.

They might suggest further details or ask you for minor revisions, and that’s normal.

But overall, you need to go into this defense thinking that your presentation will be successful. Otherwise, you are already setting yourself up for failure with the wrong mindset.

Remember that positive thoughts attract positive results.

Thesis Defense Presentation Structure and Slides Content

We can use language learning models like ChatGPT to help us curate the structure of our thesis presentation. Let’s see a step-by-step solution on how to apply this.

Step 1: Define the thesis topic and research questions

You can set the environment for ChatGPT to work by explaining what your thesis is going to cover and which specific questions you aim to address through the course of that document. This gives ChatGPT the context from which it shall formulate the structure. A prompt can be written like this:

“Take the role of an academic professional who shall help me to write my thesis. This thesis is going to cover the topic of (insert topic), and through its course, I want to answer these questions: Question 1 – Question 2 – Question 3 – Consider this information as the starting point for this chat.”

Step 2: Ask for an outline

With the previously provided information, ask ChatGPT to generate an outline for your presentation. If some of the points listed in the output don’t convince you, then chat with the interface until you reach a final outline. Then, ask to elaborate on each specific point for information or cues you may have overlooked.

Step 3: Ask ChatGPT which content should you place per slide

Instead of debating how are you going to trim your thesis into a presentation format, ask ChatGPT to do the decision process for you. You can be as specific as asking how many words per slide, how many slides should the presentation have, if you need any visual element, etc.

N.B.: We don’t recommend using ChatGPT to retrieve academic references as, in some cases, it can provide faulty results. You can ask if any facts on this presentation need to be checked or similar questions. ChatGPT is a powerful tool, but it shouldn’t be considered a bible, so be extra cautious about grabbing content directly from its outputs.

1. Title Page

This slide should contain the information that is provided on the title page of your hard copy . Here is an example of title page or cover slide for your title defense or thesis presentation.

PPT Template Thesis Title - title defense example - Example of Title Slide in a Thesis Defense Presentation

  • The title of your research paper
  • Where you are studying
  • Name and details of your course
  • Name of Adviser

2. Introduction Slide

Your introduction slide should provide the committee with an idea of the following:

PPT Template Introduction Slide - Example of Introduction Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • What is the topic area that you are investigating ?
  • What are the specific research questions that you set out to answer?
  • Why is this question important to answer?
  • What were the objectives of your research?

3. Literature Review Slide

It’s not necessary to cover everything that’s currently understood in the available literature. You may want to present the following content under a Literature Review slide:

Literature Review Thesis PPT Template

  • Relevant current research that is close to your topic
  • Different theories that may apply to your specific area of research
  • Areas of weakness that are currently highlighted

4. Methodology Slide

Make sure to touch the factors below within your process, and include the following in the Methodology slide:

PPT Template Methodology Slide - Example of Methodology Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • The type of study you have conducted: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed
  • The methods that you chose and why
  • Details of the population, sampling methods, and other information
  • Provide information regarding how you have analyzed the data that you have collected

5. Results Slide

This part should give the committee/audience a good understanding of what you’ve discovered during your research. The statistics & results slide could include the final results of your analysis, here is an example:

Thesis Results PPT Template Slide

  • An overall description of the data that you collected during your research
  • The results of the analysis that you have done on that data
  • What were the most significant findings from your data

6. Discussion Slide

Highlight here the meaning of the findings in relation to your discipline program and the research that you have done:

Thesis Discussion PPT Template Slide - Example of Discussion Slide for a Thesis Defense presentation

  • What are the major findings, and what do they mean with regard to your research
  • How do these findings relate to what others have found in the past
  • How can you explain any unusual or surprising result

7. Conclusions Slide

You have to end your presentation with a conclusion summarizing all that you have found within your research. Here is an example of a Conclusion slide in a Thesis presentation:

Conclusions Thesis PowerPoint Template

  • Restate your research questions
  • Show how your results answer these questions
  • Show what contribution you have made
  • State any limitations to the work you have done
  • Suggest future research
  • Make any recommendations

See Also: How to Create a Great Investors Pitch Deck and Close the Deal

8. Acknowledgements Slide

Express gratitude to your advisor, committee members, peers, and others who supported your research journey. This slide provides a moment to acknowledge the collaborative nature of academic work.

9. Questions and Answers Slide

Dedicate a slide for audience questions at the end of your presentation.

Encourage engagement by inviting questions from the audience.

Be prepared to provide clear and concise responses to inquiries.

10. References Slide

Include a slide listing your cited sources throughout your presentation.

Use a consistent citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

The References slide demonstrates your thorough engagement with existing literature.

11. Contact Information Slide

If you’re open to further inquiries or collaborations, consider adding your contact information.

Include your email address or relevant professional social media handles.

How to use SlideModel AI Presentation Maker for your Thesis Presentation

If you want to save hours of manual time, you can leverage AI tools to make your thesis presentation. The best part of integrating AI tools into our workflow is that we can pair them to get even better results than we expected. With SlideModel’s AI presentation maker , users can create an entire slide deck by introducing these variables:

  • Topic of your thesis
  • Number of slides to include in your thesis presentation
  • Outline checkup

And that’s it! Download the AI-generated presentation in PPTX format or for Google Slides, and edit it if you require adding some extra content. The core elements are already done, and you can save countless hours of hard work.

Tips During Your Oral Defense!

Review your materials.

Even if you already feel confident with your upcoming presentation, you still need to review your materials.

You can bring the hard copy of your thesis with you during the defense, but you don’t want to get lost in your presentation when you forget some specific details and have to scan your papers.

You should know your paper in and out.

Rehearse Your Presentation

It’s not wrong if it sounds like a script when you speak in your oral defense. It’s expected and understandable.

You need to practice your presentation, especially when there’s a time restriction given to every presenter.

You only need to prepare enough slides that would fit your time limit. A hundred slides aren’t suitable for a 15 to 20-minute presentation, nor 10 slides for an hour of defense.

Your rehearsal will be more effective if you practice it in front of an audience.

Note: You will experience complete silence in the defense room. You might feel awkward because, most of the time, you’re the only one speaking out loud.  This is completely fine, and it’s something you should practice in rehearsal should you be afraid.

Narrow the Presentation of Ideas

Regarding your slides, you don’t have to include everything that’s in your paper. You should narrow down your ideas to the main points and the most important details, such as the statistics and findings.

If the members of your committee think you lack details or they want to hear a further explanation, they won’t hesitate to ask you.

Prepare for the Unexpected Questions

The panel tends to challenge the presenters, usually through some hard questions.

Its aim is how well do you you have done your research and how prepared you are.

But as long as you know the ins and outs of your paper, you shouldn’t lose your confidence regardless of which questions they ask.

Just keep in mind that what you’re saying in your oral defense is not in conflict with what is written on the hard copy you provided them.

What To Do When You Don’t Know the Answer

If the committee asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t make up a baseless answer.

Baseless means out-of-context answers or something without proof or backup.

How To Deal With The Nervousness

The committee expects you to be nervous. Of course, it’s normal.

However, one effect of being nervous is the changes in your behavior.

There’s a tendency for you’ll talk fast, which will make it hard for the committee to understand you.

It might also cause you to have a mental block.

So try to slow down. Take a deep breath.

Inhale, exhale.  Remember to breathe!

It’s OK to pause, and it’s OK to take your time; it’s more important that the committee clearly understands what you are trying to articulate.

More Quick Tips on How to Present!

  • Introduce yourself at the beginning
  • Introduce the title of the presentation
  • Don’t read your notes if possible
  • Don’t speak too fast
  • Put an emphasis on what you’re saying so you don’t sound monotonous
  • Look at your adviser once in a while for possible signs
  • Stand on the right of the white screen if you are right-handed so you can easily refer to the slide without giving your back to the committee
  • Face the audience when you talk
  • Keep an eye contact
  • Make sure to keep attention to the reactions of the committee and don’t forget to react in turn

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to do a proper thesis defense and how to best prepare for one using proven tips and techniques to help you get through this.  Hopefully, after your defense, you will be set as the one in your class to deliver an inspiring graduation speech for your peers. If you have value, please remember to share this article. We also recommend you read these Thesis Statement Examples for inspiration to create your own professionally.

1. MasterDoc PowerPoint Template

Cover Image for MasterDoc PowerPoint templates

Creating a Thesis presentation should be a straight forward task; based on your thesis document and following the tips described above you have a high level structure already outlined. The MasterDoc PowerPoint template provides professional layouts with texts and image placeholders; so you can create document like slides using your thesis defense as your content. This template is ideal for a highly detailed documents, where visuals and words unite to illustrate one concept per page. The result is an asset that can be read and digested more quickly than either your thesis document or a presentation created for assisting a speech. A document created with the MasterDoc PowerPoint templates is meant to be printed or distributed, read on screen without the accompaniment of a presenter or used in an e-learning platform as pure learning content.

Use This Template

2. Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template

proposal presentation defense

You had invested a considerable time researching, testing hypothesis and confirming your thesis. Craft your thesis presentation with the same level of detail you applied in your work. Using the Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template you will focus only in your content and your message. The layouts, images,design and structure will be taken care by the template.

3. Master Thesis PowerPoint Template

proposal presentation defense

The Master Thesis PowerPoint Template is a professional document designed for postgraduate degrees presentations. It provides simple sections that follow  the structure and best practices of traditional research thesis presentations. Starting with the introduction to the theory and state of the art scenario; following with hypothesis research and its findings and concluding with the confirmation or negation of the initial thesis statement.

4. Essay Outline PowerPoint Template

proposal presentation defense

Your thesis defense can be accompanied by an essay, that states your thesis and argues about it using several supporting paragraphs. This kind of document is ideal to be an intermediate step between reading assisting to the thesis presentation and reading the complete thesis documentation. It has more information that your thesis defense abstract, but does summarizes the supporting evidence and examples that allows the argument of each idea behind the thesis. You can use the Essay Outline Template to present your Essay outline and create an essay linked to your thesis defense documentation.

proposal presentation defense

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36 Responses to “How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation”

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proposal presentation defense

How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

proposal presentation defense

You’ve reached the home stretch in your journey toward your post-graduate degree. You’ve diligently studied, researched and performed for years, and all that’s left is your master thesis or doctorate dissertation. 

“ All that’s left,” however, might be the understatement of the century. There’s nothing simple about orally defending your thesis, and this final stage often means the difference between a degree and a program that remains incomplete.

Even after you’ve dedicated months filled with blood, sweat and tears defining your argument, researching your support and writing your defense, you aren’t ready to address the academic panel. You still have to design an effective visual presentation, and the slide deck can make or break your entire thesis.

Unsure how to design a stellar slide deck to visually present your thesis or dissertation? Check out the following tips to pull off your master thesis defense with a great presentation:

1.   Properly structure your slide deck

Every master thesis defense presentation is unique, but most effective slide decks will follow a similar structure, including:  

  • Title - Just like a research paper, your thesis presentation must include a title slide. This should include the same information as any other title page: the title, your name, your academic institution, course name and the name of the academic advisor to your thesis or dissertation. That doesn’t mean your title slide needs to look like the start of any other Frankendeck . Instead, add your text atop a relative image, and adjust the brightness to ensure your text pops.
  • Introduction - Your thesis presentation should also include an introduction slide, which details the topic of your thesis, the question your research will seek to answer and any additional objectives to your research, as well as the answer or solution you will be defending.
  • Literature review - Following your thesis introduction, design one or more slides that review the literature you researched. This shouldn’t be a full bibliography (although that should be included in the accompanying written account of your research), but instead, the slides should list your most relevant research sources. If the information is featured on a slide, make sure you include its source. 
  • Methodology - Your thesis presentation slide deck should also include a slide (or slides) detailing the methodology of your research and argument. Here you want to describe the type of study— whether it’s quantitative, qualitative or a combination of the two, as well as an explanation of why you chose the method or methods you used. If you conducted original research, you will want to detail the study population, sampling methods and other details pertinent to your studies, while you’ll also want to detail how you analyzed your data.
  • Results - No thesis presentation slide deck is complete without dedicating slides to illustrate the results of your research. Be sure to include a description of any data you collected through your research, as well as the results of your analysis of the data. What were your most significant findings?
  • Discussion - How do the results of your research support your overall thesis argument? Be sure to include slides that discuss your overall findings and how they relate to your original question.
  • Conclusion - Concluding slides should restate your original research questions, represent the results of your research, suggest future research and make any final recommendations.
  • Ending slide – Close your thesis presentation with a concluding slide that offers an interesting quote or trivia that makes your audience further ponder your topic, a GIF or animation that recaptures the audience’s attention or even a hypothetical question that opens additional discussion from the academic panel. This is your opportunity to make your presentation memorable.

proposal presentation defense

Thesis Presentation vs. Dissertation

Thesis presentation and dissertation are two terms often used in academic settings related to upper education. While they are related, there are distinct differences between the two, which is important to understand as you begin to structure your thesis defense.

‍ A thesis presentation typically refers to the final oral presentation that a student gives to defend their thesis or research project. It is a formal presentation to explain their findings, methodology, and conclusions to a panel of faculty members or experts in the field. The purpose of a thesis defense presentation is to demonstrate the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and to defend the validity of their research.

On the other hand, a dissertation refers to a lengthy and comprehensive research project that is typically required for the completion of a doctoral degree. It involves in-depth research, analysis, and the development of original ideas in a particular field of study. A dissertation is usually written over an extended period and is expected to contribute new knowledge or insights to the field. Unlike a thesis presentation, a dissertation is submitted in written form and is typically evaluated by a committee of faculty members or experts in the field.

2.   Choose which ideas to illustrate

Unless you have an hour to fill with your master thesis defense or doctorate dissertation, you won’t be able to include every idea from your overall research documentation in your slide show. Choose the most important ideas to illustrate on slides, while also keeping in mind what aspects of your research you’ll be able to visually represent.

proposal presentation defense

3.   Define your presentation’s theme

A stellar thesis or dissertation presentation will be professional in appearance, and a cohesive design is an absolute must. Choose what types of typography and color schemes best support your topic. 

Instead of adjusting these settings on each individual slide— a tedious task at best— choose a PowerPoint-alternative presentation software like Beautiful.ai that allows you to customize a theme for your entire slide deck. Choose your fonts and other typography, your color palette, margins, footers, logos, transitions and more, and the cloud-based tool will automatically apply those design specifications to every slide you add to the master thesis defense presentation.

4.   Design simple and focused slides

You might have a lot of information to present, but when it comes to your thesis presentation— or almost any slide deck for that matter— less is more. Be sure every slide counts by focusing on your main points. 

Then, whatever you do, keep your slides simple. Not even an academic panel is going to dedicate much time deciphering a cluttered slide with all too many details. Try to avoid presenting more than one or two ideas on each slide.

5.   Include data visualizations

The whole point of your presentation is to illustrate the concepts included in your thesis. Humans are visual creatures and react strongly to imagery, and the panel evaluating your thesis or dissertation is no exception— regardless of how studious and formal the academics might seem. Illustrate the results of your research with colorful and engaging infographics . You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create them, either. 

Beautiful.ai users can choose from a host of smart slide templates with data visualizations — including favorites like bar graphs and pie charts , as well as less common options like scattergraphs , flow charts and pictograms . Just input your data and watch as our special brand of artificial intelligence creates the infographic for you.  

6.   Practice makes perfect

After spending months researching your thesis or dissertation, writing about your findings and designing a stellar master thesis defense presentation, you would hate to see all your hard work be for naught. That’s still a distinct possibility, however, if you don’t also practice your delivery. 

Practice, practice and practice some more until you know your master thesis defense like the back of your hand. No academic panel will be impressed by a graduate candidate who stumbles through their presentation or appears to be reading from their notes. Know the contents of every slide, as well as exactly what parts of your overall defense you want to deliver during its display. 

Things to keep in mind to help you nail your presentation

The golden rule of any presentation is to keep your audience engaged. You can ensure a more engaging presentation by maintaining eye contact, using appropriate gestures, and speaking clearly. You can also choose to include the audience in your presentation with interactive questions, polls, and slides.

To help boost audience retention, utilize storytelling. Studies show that when facts are presented in the form of a story, people are 22 times more likely to remember them. Talk about powerful.

Last but not least, plan for questions— and not simply by allowing time for them. Watch other thesis defenses delivered at your institution, and consider what types of questions the academic panel might ask, so you can prepare the best possible answer.

Extra credit:

Get started with our PhD Defense Thesis presentation template here .

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.

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PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Start

  • Tips for designing the slides
  • Presentation checklist
  • Example slides
  • Additional Resources

Purpose of the Guide

This guide was created to help ph.d. students in engineering fields to design dissertation defense presentations. the guide provides 1) tips on how to effectively communicate research, and 2) full presentation examples from ph.d. graduates. the tips on designing effective slides are not restricted to dissertation defense presentations; they can be used in designing other types of presentations such as conference talks, qualification and proposal exams, and technical seminars., the tips and examples are used to help students to design effective presentation. the technical contents in all examples are subject to copyright, please do not replicate. , if you need help in designing your presentation, please contact julie chen ([email protected]) for individual consultation. .

  • Example Slides Repository
  • Defense slides examples Link to examples dissertation defense slides.

Useful Links

  • CIT Thesis and dissertation standards
  • Dissertations and Theses @ Carnegie Mellon This link opens in a new window Covers 1920-present. Full text of some dissertations may be available 1997-present. Citations and abstracts of dissertations and theses CMU graduate students have published through UMI Dissertation Publishing. In addition to citations and abstracts, the service provides free access to 24 page previews and the full text in PDF format, when available. In most cases, this will be works published in 1997 forward.
  • Communicate your research data Data visualization is very important in communicating your data effectively. Check out these do's and don'ts for designing figures.

Power Point Template and other Resources

  • CEE Powerpoint Slide Presentation Template 1
  • CEE Powerpoint Slide Presentation Template 2

Source: CEE Department Resources https://www.cmu.edu/cee/resources/index.html

  • CMU Powerpoint Slide Template

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https://www.cmu.edu/marcom/brand-standards/downloads/index.html

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Top 7 tips for your defense presentation

1. show why your study is important, remember, your audience is your committee members, researchers in other fields, and even the general public. you want to convince all of them why you deserve a ph.d. degree. you need to talk about why your study is important to the world. in the engineering field, you also need to talk about how your study is useful. try to discuss why current practice is problematic or not good enough, what needs to be solved, and what the potential benefits will be. , see how dr. posen and dr. malings explained the importance of their studies..

  • Carl Malings Defense Slides with Notes
  • I. Daniel Posen Defense Slides with Notes

2. Emphasize YOUR contribution 

Having a ph.d. means that you have made some novel contributions to the grand field. this is about you and your research. you need to keep emphasizing your contributions throughout your presentation. after talking about what needs to be solved, try to focus on emphasizing the novelty of your work. what problems can be solved using your research outcomes what breakthroughs have you made to the field why are your methods and outcomes outstanding you need to incorporate answers to these questions in your presentation. , be clear what your contributions are in the introduction section; separate what was done by others and what was done by you. , 3. connect your projects into a whole piece of work, you might have been doing multiple projects that are not strongly connected. to figure out how to connect them into a whole piece, use visualizations such as flow charts to convince your audience. the two slides below are two examples. in the first slide, which was presented in the introduction section, the presenter used a flow diagram to show the connection between the three projects. in the second slide, the presenter used key figures and a unique color for each project to show the connection..

proposal presentation defense

  • Xiaoju Chen Defense Slides with Notes

4. Tell a good story 

The committee members do not necessarily have the same background knowledge as you. plus, there could be researchers from other fields and even the general public in the room. you want to make sure all of your audience can understand as much as possible. focus on the big picture rather than technical details; make sure you use simple language to explain your methods and results. your committee has read your dissertation before your defense, but others have not. , dr. cook and dr. velibeyoglu did a good job explaining their research to everyone. the introduction sessions in their presentations are well designed for this purpose. .

  • Laren M. Cook Defense Slides with Notes
  • Irem Velibeyoglu Defense with Notes

5. Transition, transition, transition

Use transition slides to connect projects , it's a long presentation with different research projects. you want to use some sort of transition to remind your audience what you have been talking about and what is next. you may use a slide that is designed for this purpose throughout your presentation. , below are two examples. these slides were presented after the introduction section. the presenters used the same slides and highlighted the items for project one to indicate that they were moving on to the first project. throughout the presentation, they used these slides and highlighted different sections to indicate how these projects fit into the whole dissertation. .

proposal presentation defense

You can also use some other indications on your slides, but remember not to make your slides too busy.  Below are two examples. In the first example, the presenter used chapter numbers to indicate what he was talking about. In the second example, the presenter used a progress bar with keywords for each chapter as the indicator. 

proposal presentation defense

Use transition sentences to connect slides 

Remember transition sentences are also important; use them to summarize what you have said and tell your audience what they will expect next. if you keep forgetting the transition sentence, write a note on your presentation. you can either write down a full sentence of what you want to say or some keywords., 6. be brief, put details in backup slides , you won't have time to explain all of the details. if your defense presentation is scheduled for 45 minutes, you can only spend around 10 minutes for each project - that's shorter than a normal research conference presentation focus on the big picture and leave details behind. you can put the details in your backup slides, so you might find them useful when your committee (and other members of the audience) ask questions regarding these details., 7. show your presentation to your advisor and colleagues, make sure to ask your advisor(s) for their comments. they might have a different view on what should be emphasized and what should be elaborated. , you also want to practice at least once in front of your colleagues. they can be your lab mates, people who work in your research group, and/or your friends. they do not have to be experts in your field. ask them to give you some feedback - their comments can be extremely helpful to improve your presentation. , below are some other tips and resources to design your defense presentation. .

  • Tips for designing your defense presentation

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PhD Thesis Proposal Defense: Common Questions and Feedback

PhD thesis proposal defense questions and feedback

This past two weeks I attended a number of proposal defense of PhD students at my University. In this post, I discuss the general format of a proposal defense as well as discuss the most common questions asked and feedback given to the students by the external examiners.

Structure of a PhD proposal defense

Outcomes of a phd proposal defense, common questions and feedback for chapter 1 of the proposal, common questions and feedback for chapter 2 of the proposal, common questions and feedback for chapter 3 of the proposal, general feedback, final thoughts, related posts.

A proposal defense has: the student defending his proposal, two external examiners, the student’s supervisors, the audience, and the chair of the defense. The defense is structured as follows:

  • The chair opens the session by welcoming and acknowledging the student, his supervisors and the external examiners.
  • The chair also outlines how the defense will be undertaken including any rules that should be adhered to.
  • The chair then welcomes the PhD student to introduce himself and make a presentation (usually 15 minutes).
  • After the presentation by the student, the chair opens the floor to the external examiners to give their comments, ask questions and give feedback to the student on how to improve the proposal.
  • The student is then required to respond to the questions asked and comments given.
  • The chair then makes his remarks.
  • Afterwards, the PhD student, his supervisors and the audience are requested to leave the room to allow the chair and the examiners to make their determination. The student and his supervisors are then called back in and the determination is spelt out to them.

There are about 4 possible outcomes after the student presents and defends his proposal:

  • The proposal passes with minor or no corrections.
  • The proposal passes with major corrections.
  • The student retakes the proposal by re-writing it (may include change of topic) and defending it again.
  • The proposal is rejected.

Rarely will a student be asked to re-take or will a proposal be rejected especially if it has been adequately supervised. This is because before the proposal is submitted for oral defense, it must be reviewed and signed by the supervisors.

Below is a list of the common questions and feedback for chapter 1:

  • What is your working definition of [concepts]?
  • Which sector do you want to focus on?
  • From a [country/region] perspective, please explain what is the problem?
  • How do you intend to solve the problem you have identified?
  • What will your proposed solution comprise of?
  • Who are the recipients of your proposed solution?
  • What is the primary outcome of the research?
  • Your objectives use [concept] while your problem statement talks of [a different concept]. What’s the difference between the two [concepts]?
  • In the research objectives, there is an interchange and insertion of different words. Be careful about the concepts you use. There needs to be consistency in the concepts used throughout the proposal.
  • What is the knowledge gap? That is, what is known and what is unknown that your study will attempt to address?
  • How do you relate [different variables included in the topic]? Is one a precedent of the other?
  • Are you investigating or examining? The topic says investigating while the objectives talk of examining.
  • The presentation does not discuss [sector of focus], the opportunities that exist, and the challenges it faces. This would give the student a good basis for undertaking the research.
  • There is no continuity in the objectives.
  • There is no discussion of the study’s contribution to knowledge and practice, which is very important for PhD-level study.
  • The background has many concepts that throw off readers on what the focus of the study is.
  • The problem statement is not focused.
  • What is the placement of the study regionally?
  • The objectives are too long and broad; they should be specific.
  • What is the underlying hypothesis of your study?
  • One of the research questions is biased. The researcher should take a neutral stand.

Below is a list of the common questions and feedback for chapter 2:

  • Which theories have inspired your work and who are the proponents of those theories?
  • For each theory discussed in your proposal, briefly state what it says and how it informs your study.
  • How are the theories related to your study?
  • Why did you select those theories and not [other theories]?
  • There are no empirical studies reviewed in your proposal.
  • Your work must converge with other peoples’ work to be able to show the gap that your study is trying to fill.
  • How did the choice of theories help you come up with your study’s concepts and variables?
  • How will you measure the variables [in the topic]?
  • You have just touched the surface of the empirical review, which should be a substantial section of your literature review.
  • It is not clear what the research gap is from the literature review.
  • After the empirical review, that’s when you now discuss the conceptual framework.
  • The conceptual framework should clearly show the dependent and independent variables and their relationships.

Below is a list of the common questions and feedback for chapter 3:

  • Kindly explain what your research philosophy is.
  • What will your [quantitative] model comprise of?
  • How are you going to verify and validate your [quantitative] model?
  • Why is the sampling formula appropriate to your sector and study? Justify the sampling formula used in the proposal.
  • Justify the choice of the sampling technique [e.g. purposive sampling].
  • Justify your choice of data collection and data analysis methods.
  • Are you going to use an inductive approach or a deductive approach to your study?
  • There needs to be consistency between your objectives and research philosophy.
  • If you have a number of population categories, you need to clearly articulate the sampling techniques for each category.
  • The data analysis methods should be clearly articulated.
  • The ethical considerations of your study should be adequately discussed.
  • The data collection instruments should be part of the proposal defense.
  • Your choice of research design and methods should be justified.
  • What is your unit of analysis?
  • Who are your study’s population?
  • Will you have different questionnaires for different respondents?
  • The data collection tools should have adequate background information questions to enable comparisons across different socio-economic and demographic groups.
  • Why are you lagging a variable? Justify the need to lag the variable.
  • Justify the choice of the model [e.g. Structural Equation Model].
  • Which specific multivariate analysis will you use?
  • Which tests are you going to conduct for the model and why? [e.g. normality, multicollinearity tests etc]
  • The variables of your study should be defined.

In addition to the chapter-specific questions and feedback given, the students also received feedback on:

  • The formatting of their proposals, including the font styles and size allowed, the numbering of the documents,
  • The inclusion of front pages such as cover page, declaration, abstract, table of contents,
  • The inclusion of back pages such as reference list and appendices which should include letter of introduction, consent letter for study respondents, data collection instruments, and work plan (Gantt chart) for the study.
  • The style of referencing recommended by the School e.g. APA, which should be consistent throughout the proposal. The proposal defense should also include some of the citations so as to give it an authoritative feel.

From my observations during the four proposal defenses I attended, a proposal defense is an opportunity for the PhD student to defend his work and to convince the interviewing panel that the student knows what he is doing and what is required of him moving forward. Most of the panellists will do their best to make the student feel comfortable rather than intimidate him so PhD students should not panic when preparing to defend their proposals.

Of importance is adequate preparation before the defense and making sure that the proposal and presentation follow the guidelines provided by the School. Lastly, PhD students should keep in mind that the aim of the proposal defense is to help improve upon the student’s proposal and ensure that the research will meet the scientific rigour and standards of a PhD-level work.

How To Write Chapter 1 Of A PhD Thesis Proposal (A Practical Guide)

How To Write Chapter 2 Of A PhD Thesis Proposal (A Beginner’s Guide)

How To Write Chapter 3 Of A PhD Thesis Proposal (A Detailed Guide)

How To Format A PhD Thesis In Microsoft Word (An Illustrative Guide)

Comprehensive Guidelines for Writing a PhD Thesis Proposal (+ free checklist for PhD Students)

Grace Njeri-Otieno

Grace Njeri-Otieno is a Kenyan, a wife, a mom, and currently a PhD student, among many other balls she juggles. She holds a Bachelors' and Masters' degrees in Economics and has more than 7 years' experience with an INGO. She was inspired to start this site so as to share the lessons learned throughout her PhD journey with other PhD students. Her vision for this site is "to become a go-to resource center for PhD students in all their spheres of learning."

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How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

Thesis defence

What is a thesis defense?

How long is a thesis defense, what happens at a thesis defense, your presentation, questions from the committee, 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense, 1. anticipate questions and prepare for them, 2. dress for success, 3. ask for help, as needed, 4. have a backup plan, 5. prepare for the possibility that you might not know an answer, 6. de-stress before, during, and after, frequently asked questions about preparing an excellent thesis defense, related articles.

If you're about to complete, or have ever completed a graduate degree, you have most likely come across the term "thesis defense." In many countries, to finish a graduate degree, you have to write a thesis .

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

Once you hand in your thesis, you will be assigned a date to defend your work. Your thesis defense meeting usually consists of you and a committee of two or more professors working in your program. It may also include other people, like professionals from other colleges or those who are working in your field.

During your thesis defense, you will be asked questions about your work. The main purpose of your thesis defense is for the committee to make sure that you actually understand your field and focus area.

The questions are usually open-ended and require the student to think critically about their work. By the time of your thesis defense, your paper has already been evaluated. The questions asked are not designed so that you actually have to aggressively "defend" your work; often, your thesis defense is more of a formality required so that you can get your degree.

  • Check with your department about requirements and timing.
  • Re-read your thesis.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them.
  • Create a back-up plan to deal with technology hiccups.
  • Plan de-stressing activities both before, and after, your defense.

How long your oral thesis defense is depends largely on the institution and requirements of your degree. It is best to consult your department or institution about this. In general, a thesis defense may take only 20 minutes, but it may also take two hours or more. The length also depends on how much time is allocated to the presentation and questioning part.

Tip: Check with your department or institution as soon as possible to determine the approved length for a thesis defense.

First of all, be aware that a thesis defense varies from country to country. This is just a general overview, but a thesis defense can take many different formats. Some are closed, others are public defenses. Some take place with two committee members, some with more examiners.

The same goes for the length of your thesis defense, as mentioned above. The most important first step for you is to clarify with your department what the structure of your thesis defense will look like. In general, your thesis defense will include:

  • your presentation of around 20-30 minutes
  • questions from the committee
  • questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it)

You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an appropriate amount of slides. A general rule is to use about 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation.

But that also depends on your specific topic and the way you present. The good news is that there will be plenty of time ahead of your thesis defense to prepare your slides and practice your presentation alone and in front of friends or family.

Tip: Practice delivering your thesis presentation in front of family, friends, or colleagues.

You can prepare your slides by using information from your thesis' first chapter (the overview of your thesis) as a framework or outline. Substantive information in your thesis should correspond with your slides.

Make sure your slides are of good quality— both in terms of the integrity of the information and the appearance. If you need more help with how to prepare your presentation slides, both the ASQ Higher Education Brief and James Hayton have good guidelines on the topic.

The committee will ask questions about your work after you finish your presentation. The questions will most likely be about the core content of your thesis, such as what you learned from the study you conducted. They may also ask you to summarize certain findings and to discuss how your work will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

Tip: Read your entire thesis in preparation of the questions, so you have a refreshed perspective on your work.

While you are preparing, you can create a list of possible questions and try to answer them. You can foresee many of the questions you will get by simply spending some time rereading your thesis.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense:

You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions. In addition, since you will know who will be on the committee, look at the academic expertise of the committee members. In what areas would they most likely be focused?

If possible, sit at other thesis defenses with these committee members to get a feel for how they ask and what they ask. As a graduate student, you should generally be adept at anticipating test questions, so use this advantage to gather as much information as possible before your thesis defense meeting.

Your thesis defense is a formal event, often the entire department or university is invited to participate. It signals a critical rite of passage for graduate students and faculty who have supported them throughout a long and challenging process.

While most universities don't have specific rules on how to dress for that event, do regard it with dignity and respect. This one might be a no-brainer, but know that you should dress as if you were on a job interview or delivering a paper at a conference.

It might help you deal with your stress before your thesis defense to entrust someone with the smaller but important responsibilities of your defense well ahead of schedule. This trusted person could be responsible for:

  • preparing the room of the day of defense
  • setting up equipment for the presentation
  • preparing and distributing handouts

Technology is unpredictable. Life is too. There are no guarantees that your Powerpoint presentation will work at all or look the way it is supposed to on the big screen. We've all been there. Make sure to have a plan B for these situations. Handouts can help when technology fails, and an additional clean shirt can save the day if you have a spill.

One of the scariest aspects of the defense is the possibility of being asked a question you can't answer. While you can prepare for some questions, you can never know exactly what the committee will ask.

There will always be gaps in your knowledge. But your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. You are not expected to know everything.

James Hayton writes on his blog that examiners will sometimes even ask questions they don't know the answer to, out of curiosity, or because they want to see how you think. While it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, but you would need to do [...] in order to find out.” This shows that you have the ability to think as an academic.

You will be nervous. But your examiners will expect you to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions, for example. Dora Farkas at finishyourthesis.com notes that it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

Two common symptoms of being nervous are talking really fast and nervous laughs. Try to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Remember what feels like hours to you are just a few seconds in real life.

  • Try meditational breathing right before your defense.
  • Get plenty of exercise and sleep in the weeks prior to your defense.
  • Have your clothes or other items you need ready to go the night before.
  • During your defense, allow yourself to process each question before answering.
  • Go to dinner with friends and family, or to a fun activity like mini-golf, after your defense.

Allow yourself to process each question, respond to it, and stop talking once you have responded. While a smile can often help dissolve a difficult situation, remember that nervous laughs can be irritating for your audience.

We all make mistakes and your thesis defense will not be perfect. However, careful preparation, mindfulness, and confidence can help you feel less stressful both before, and during, your defense.

Finally, consider planning something fun that you can look forward to after your defense.

It is completely normal to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions for example if needed. Slow yourself down, and take a deep breath.

Your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. James Hayton writes on his blog that it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", but he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, you would need to do [...] in order to find out".

Your Powerpoint presentation can get stuck or not look the way it is supposed to do on the big screen. It can happen and your supervisors know it. In general, handouts can always save the day when technology fails.

  • Dress for success.
  • Ask for help setting up.
  • Have a backup plan (in case technology fails you).
  • Deal with your nerves.

proposal presentation defense

IMAGES

  1. How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense with a PowerPoint Presentation

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  2. How To Do A Proper Thesis Defense With A Powerpoint P

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  3. Impressive Thesis Defense Presentation

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  5. Proposal Defense Presentation

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  6. What are the steps for a successful thesis proposal defense

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. PDF Proposal Defense PowerPoint Template

    Proposal Defense PowerPoint Template. The primary purpose of this defense is to propose methodology for answering your research questions. This document was created for educational purposes. Students are encouraged to discuss the expectations for the defense presentation with the EdD Dissertation Committee. Tips for Creating and Delivering an ...

  2. How to Create a Dissertation Proposal Defense PowerPoint (+Example)

    Get customized coaching for crafting your proposal, collecting and analyzing your data, or preparing your defense. The following are other format requirements for the slides: Create 17-20 slides. Do not provide a lot of information. Be concise and write a few sentences (approximately 1-7 on each slide).

  3. How to Start a Thesis Defense Presentation

    Use an appropriate language register (avoid informal language), but be approachable and natural. "Welcome to the thesis defense on [the title of your thesis]". Next, introduce yourself with your name and give a short description of your background and occupation. Don't forget to say "thank you for attending!".

  4. A Guide to Successful Research Proposal Defense: Essential ...

    In conclusion, preparing for an initial research defense seminar requires careful attention to essential components that will make the presentation clear, well-structured, and convincing.

  5. How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense with a PowerPoint Presentation

    Consider this information as the starting point for this chat.". Step 2: Ask for an outline. With the previously provided information, ask ChatGPT to generate an outline for your presentation. If some of the points listed in the output don't convince you, then chat with the interface until you reach a final outline.

  6. Dissertation Proposal Defense: 12 Tips for Effective Preparation

    Ask peers or mentors to review your proposal or presentation for weaknesses. Look at it yourself with a critical eye. Even if you're not able to eliminate a weakness, take steps to address it as best you can so that your committee can be confident that you're aware of it and able to handle it. 3. Practice.

  7. How to Start and Give a Great Thesis Defense Presentation

    2. Know Your Audience. Most people give their thesis defense presentation to an academic panel. This panel will look to see if you've developed a thorough understanding of your topic and thesis. They'll also be looking to see if you've got a solid foundation for your argument.

  8. How to Make a Thesis Defense Presentation That Will Impress Your

    12 Free presentation templates for a Thesis Defense; Define your signature idea. Your thesis has a focus. A goal. A core concept. And this should be incorporated into your thesis defense presentation's design in every respect. A strong design will help to engage the committee and reinforce your expert understanding of your research area.

  9. Preparing Your PowerPoint

    Preparing Your PowerPoint. Topic 3: Preparing for Defense. In this activity, you will draft your PowerPoint for your proposal defense. During your defense you will typically have 10-15 minutes for your presentation. There are approximately 9-12 slides. They have read the study, so focus more on findings and implications, less on literature.

  10. How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

    Check out the following tips to pull off your master thesis defense with a great presentation: 1. Properly structure your slide deck. Every master thesis defense presentation is unique, but most effective slide decks will follow a similar structure, including: Title - Just like a research paper, your thesis presentation must include a title ...

  11. PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Start

    This Guide was created to help Ph.D. students in engineering fields to design dissertation defense presentations. The Guide provides 1) tips on how to effectively communicate research, and 2) full presentation examples from Ph.D. graduates. The tips on designing effective slides are not restricted to dissertation defense presentations; they can ...

  12. PDF How-to: Prepare for your best Proposal or Defense

    How-to: Prepare for your best Proposal or Defense* Before your talk Remind your committee members the day before the talk of the date and time of your presentation Make sure a member of the exams committee will be present. Treat him/her just like a thesis committee member (i.e.; similar reminders)

  13. How to Prepare for a Proposal Presentation

    5 Manage your nerves. It is natural to feel nervous before a proposal presentation or oral defense, but you can use some strategies to cope with your anxiety and perform better. Relax and breathe ...

  14. Preparing the Thesis Proposal Defense

    The defense requires the preparation of a report and delivery of a presentation detailing what I plan to do for the last two years of my PhD. Since defenses are often set up similarly, I've compiled a roundup of my own tips on how to prepare. Create a Plan and Compile Your Resources. As soon as you schedule your proposal defense, create a ...

  15. PhD Thesis Proposal Defense: Common Questions and Feedback

    Of importance is adequate preparation before the defense and making sure that the proposal and presentation follow the guidelines provided by the School. Lastly, PhD students should keep in mind that the aim of the proposal defense is to help improve upon the student's proposal and ensure that the research will meet the scientific rigour and ...

  16. How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

    In general, your thesis defense will include: your presentation of around 20-30 minutes; questions from the committee; questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it) Your presentation. You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an ...

  17. Defending Your Research Project Proposal

    How to defend your research project proposal explained in 5 minutesSeries: 5 Minutes with CyrillCyrill Stachniss, 2022Credits:Video by Cyrill StachnissSpecia...

  18. Free Thesis Defense Google Slides and PowerPoint Templates

    Elegant Black & White Thesis Defense. Present your research findings with grace and assertiveness through this template. Available for Google Slides and PowerPoint, this design set offers minimalistic charm with its simple, gray scale elegance. The template not only provides a polished platform to showcase your thesis but also ensures seamless ...

  19. PhD Thesis Proposal Defense: Questions & Comments

    In this video, I list the most common questions asked and feedback given during a PhD thesis proposal defense.To see the list of all the common questions and...

  20. Preparing Your PowerPoint

    During your defense you will typically have 10-15 minutes for your presentation. The guide for your presentation is as follows: Statement of the Problem (1 slide) Literature Review (1 slide) Purpose of the Study (1 slide) ... Proposal PowerPoint Template (.ppt) Worked Example P roposal Defense Power Point (.pptx) Waite Phillips Hall 3470 ...

  21. Thesis Defense Powerpoint Templates and Google Slides Themes

    These presentation templates are suitable for thesis defense presentations. They can be used by students, researchers, or academics who are presenting their research findings and defending their thesis in front of a panel of experts or peers. Download these thesis defense templates to create professional presentations that will wow your committee.

  22. Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Defense in Criminology & Justice Studies

    The School of Criminology and Justice Studies is proud to announce a Dissertation Proposal Defense by Sean Perry entitled, "Evaluating Massachusetts' Reforms and their Effects on Police Misconduct." Friday April 26 11 a.m. HSSB room 342 Committee: Christopher Harris, Chair; Melissa Morabito;