Defending your thesis - Preparing the presentation

Praveen S
Thursday, November 9, 2023

Preparing the presentation
Once you understand the audience well or have thought about them, you are ready to make the presentation. There are various technologies available to prepare the presentation. The most basic and the effective is the one that allows you to write on a board.
The board can be a physical one or a digital one. If your presentation is in a class room with physical board, you can make yse the board there. If the presentration is done online, or in a hybrid mode one can make use of a ditial writing space as well.
The digitial writing space can be anything, there are many whiteboard solutions available now. You an also use existing digital notebook applications to make the writing, evernote, onenote etc. If you are presenting over zoom, you  can make use of zoom’s whiteboard.
There is not much difference between using the physical board or digital board. In fact didtal board gives you more options by adding color and gives an unlimited space. However, the physical board allows you to move around and take control over the presentation. We will discuss more on taking control oer the presentation later. I always have the preference of  a physical board. For some reason it gives me more confidence, and it gives me a perception of control over what is happening during the presentation and no fear of technical gliteches.
While using the digitial board, there are two things you need to ensure. Availability of the digital writing software as I mentioned earlier – whiteboard applications or notebook aapplications. One advantage of the notebook applications is that you can also save the presentations for future reference as in a notebook form.
The second is the writing hardware. The writing hardware can be of the form of a computer or laptop that has a touchscreen and a writing pen. These days many pc and laptop models are available with this eatures. Else, we should consider a writing pad which translates the wirting on the pad to the computer screen. As Inunderstood, Wacom is the gglobal leader in such technologies. I use a device branded XP-pen which is also works equally good. I know that there are still many excellent choices. I have been using such technologies for more that 10 years without fail.

Second presentation tools after to board is the presentation softwares – these days there are many excellent presentation softwares. Currrently, the default choice for such presentation softwares are powerpoint slides. A general comparison of different presentation softwares and the key features follows, {using meghna}

On choice of technology for presentation, depends on the audience type. When you are presenting the thesis infront of the faculty, you may also need to signal your expertise and presentation skills for an academic job. Therefore, it is important to discplay your mastery of board using some technology. Even if it is not a requirement, it is an apportunitity for you to display your board skill and impress. If you are not comfortable with board even after practicing, you can avoid it. I will also discuss the other benefits of using the board while doing the presentation later in the section on ‘While presenting’.
All audience ypes are comfortable with presentation sfotwares, particularly in industry this is a norm and adeptness in handling the presentation software is an expectation if you are looking for a opening in industry.
You choice between board and presentation software will also depends on the the audience. On topics involving analytical models, mathematical derivation etc. you may need to write formulas and writing on board is inevitable in such contexts.
I always prefer and recommend a hybrid approach in which you will use the board as and when it is required. I will plan atleast some part of the prentatiojn to be conveyed using board. Often it is good idea to do the most complex part of the presentation to be delivered using the board. This will help you more control, give you more time to think, and help the audience get the time to understand what you are saying.

Timing your presenations
You should always try to understand the timelimit of the presentation. You should  never exceed the presentation including the discussions over it even by a minute. This signals professionalism and also displays your command on the subject matter. For reasons obvious, only an expert can plan the subject and time it perfectly while explaining it. If your are not an expert, I would advise you to plan your thesis presentation to finish atleasyt 10 minutes early. If your thesis presentation is schedule to be of 45 minutes, you should prepare for only 35 minutes presentation. Rest 10 minutes will be automatically gets covered with 100s of other reasons that are to extend the presentation. We do not need to worry about these 100s of reasons. It will happen for sure.
You may not know in advance whether the questions will be asked in the end or during the presentation. If the questions are asked after the presentation you can time the leave the time for questions while planning. If the questions are asked in between usually, you need to leave more time for the questions. The practice of asking the questions in between is known to delay the presentation again. In such cases you need to shorten the presentation further.

Prepairing the presentation contents
The key parts of your presentation are motivation, theoretical jigsaw, argument, method, and findings. All of them are important; in your paper one or two of these parts will have greater importance than others. Based on where you are making the key contribution, you can spend more time in that part.

This part explains why you started the research. Some of you would have genuine interesting reasons why you started the research. Many times motivations might come from suddent thoughts in earlu morning, quick observations while driving, comments made by a friend, some real problem faced by you in your daily life, problems explained by other related party in their daily businesses. This is not enough the audience should also understand what will motivate them to listen to your presentation. You need to argue why your research questions are interesting and important. You should also explain the impact of these potential research wquestion on the theopry and practicvce.
Examples of the contexts in which your research problems can be observed is one way of starting your motivation. You can also start your motivation section by a story that communicates the problem. You can also startw with the personal experiences to communicate the problem.
Soemtimes is good to communicate the problem directly. When related research questions are much researched or when the audience know well about the problem contexts it is better to not to bore them with details and directly go to the research problem.

If the key constructs used in defining the problem are not known to the audience, then you also need to define the key constructs unambiguously while presenting the motivatios itself.

In summary much of what you present in the motivation itself is dependent on the the audience type and their familiarity to the probem. If they have high awareness of the problem, quickly go the problem without much detaisl. If they do not have much awareness of the problem you need to give more details and drive their attention to the importance of the research problem.
In the firest case, you can spend around 10% of the time for motivation section. In the second case you can spend up to 25% of the time on motivation section.

Theoreticla jigsaw