tips for thesis presentation

5 Tips for Better Thesis Presentation

Just came back from the final round of thesis presentation. It was a full day almost non-stop listening to students’ presentation on what they do and what to expect by the time they submit their reports few weeks from now.

I like seminars like this that makes me feels like I am Ryu fighting his enemies in Street Fighter.

So after a full day non-stop Hadoken, Shoryuken and Tatsumaki Senpukyaku… I was indeed exhausted but have a good sense of understanding the repeating patterns of why my Ken, Chun Li, Guile, Blanka and Zangief got beaten down one by one without much efforts and here are the reasons that I hope you could learn from:

K.O. #1 Fact vs. Study

This was what happened: A student presented his slides that are the aggregation of different things bundled together. It goes some like this: The weapon of choice for Ken are Hadoken, Shoryuken, Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, Roll, Roundhouse Kick etc.

…okay, your study is about?

Many of them can’t really distinguish between what is a report for homework and what is a report for thesis.

In reports for homework, we look at how much you know from what we teach, say Urban Forestry, we want you to know the constraints of trees would face in an urban environment so your homework would be like telling us space, soil compaction, stress, disturbance etc. We intended to ask you questions that you should answer in a certain way.

For thesis, say Urban Forestry and constraints again, we want you to STUDY the effects of these constraints to particular trees or environments so we could understand how these constraints would affect the performance of trees. These are things that we want you to find it out from what already known.

Back in Street Fighter, we already know Ken’s weapon of choice (Fact), but we want to know how damaging would be for Ken to use Hadoken or other moves to different opponent (Study).

K.O. #2 Don’t Hide Your Data

We know that your study was half baked and  not enough time to get things done before presentation. We understand well as we are all humans too;  to be honest – we been through that too! Question is, if you don’t present your work, how we supposed to know you have done something?

Very often, we see very strong introduction, weak method, silent/few results and suddenly, strong discussion which really out of the blue. With no results, how could you even justify your discussion? We know that data collection and analysis takes a long time to finish before anything conclusive, but that is exactly what we wanted to know than anything else. Without data we can’t see your strength in carrying out your research which all that matters before the full thesis on our tables for marking.

It is like in Street Fighter, you are just showing us how you trigger all the awesome new moves without show us how you really fight. It feels like you are dodging and that works against your advantage – it must be that you have done nothing. If that’s not the case, try to show us what you have done, no matter how small the data size was or how much you are struggling with analysis. Try to tell us what you are doing and what would you do later on will sure able to switch off the alarm in our minds that you have done nothing.

K.O. #3 Don’t Spend Time on the Background

Your stage time is limited, don’t waste time on background. Me 2015.

See you have 10 mins on stage so get to the point what’s your study is all about. You will only need a few slides (no more than 3 okay) to give us the context of your study which is important, but don’t drill into it for too long. What comes after, ie., your study, is something we wanted to know more about it.

Here’s an example, if your study is about fungus, don’t try to lecture us on types of fungus, mushrooms or spores on earth, tell us your study is about fungus and get into your study right away. Again, the more you spend time on background, the more we suspected that you haven’t done any study. Or if you think you have more knowledge than us in a certain topic that worth the time to lecture us, it is really not necessary – we won’t be able to absorb in anyways.

During your time on stage, we desperately thinking of what comments and grades we wanted to give you. The criteria is simple – what work have you done towards your thesis, if the only thing we heard was background than really nothing worth for us to write but bad impression and zero mark. You don’t want that as much as we don’t want to give – cross my heart!

Think again, how much does the story of Guile would affect you to pick him as your character? We all just wanted to play/watch a good game 🙂

K.O. #4 Don’t Fall In Love With Your Topic

This one is pretty headache for me.

I know you nailed a pretty awesome idea and worked twice as hard for your study. Problem is, there are major flaws in the question or the way you carry out your work, we pointed it out and you still insist what you have done is perfect.

What can we do?

Falling in love with your topic is one of the biggest mistake for any researcher in the world, it blinds you (and us) from thinking clearly on options and what work best in solving a problem.

If you heard any feedbacks from us saying it does not worth your time to carry on, do listen to us and tweak your topic. If you carry on, it will be a topic that only matters to you, but not to everyone else, hence, low marks.

K.O. #5 Value, Impact, Contribution

Every thesis takes months to complete, you will need to spend a substantial amount of time to find a topic, search for literature, conduct studies and write your report. It is not an easy task at all and sure enough it will be one of the most important piece of work you have done.

So do think of what values, impacts and contributions that you will bring on the table. These would make your study so much more interesting and a reason for us to give high marks.

That’s it for now, it’s just a quick note on how I felt after coming back from the presentation. Now I really want to have a good sleep.

Night fellas and keep up with the good work!