How to Create a Thesis Defense Presentation
After months and years of hard work, the moment to wrap things all up is finally here—your thesis defense presentation.
Whether you’re pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate, it’s the final step to that much-deserved achievement.
A thesis defense requires a lot of prior research and preparation. And as important as its content is, so is how you present it because a stunning design with clear data and text hierarchy plays an immense role in comprehension.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can shine at your thesis defense.
Defining the Concept of Your Thesis Presentation
The first step is to define an overarching concept.
This is the main theme on which your designs are based. It must be relevant to your thesis as its purpose is to guide your selection of colors, typography, images, style, etc.
These must be portrayed in a way that supports the main message of your slides and should be aligned with your concept both visually and sociologically.
Structuring Your Thesis Defense Presentation
Once you have defined your concept, the next step is to add structure and design.
For illustration purposes, we’ll be using our Ecology Thesis template as an example to show to you what to include in a thesis defense and how you can create a design that is eye-catching and adds value at the same time.
First impressions count.
Because your title page is the very first thing viewers see, it must be striking and impactful. It also sets the stage for the rest of your slides.
In one glance, the following should be established:
- Thesis defense topic
- Design theme
For instance, the ecology thesis’s title page uses illustrations of a natural landscape to represent the topic of nature and a striking shade of blue to set the tone.
The sans serif font used depicts a clean-cut typography and style and the thesis topic is written in a large and bold typography, which draws attention to it immediately.
Right after your title page, include an introduction slide to provide more details about your topic.
This means explaining what you hope to answer with your research, its importance to your field, and why you chose it.
Continue to incorporate design elements relevant to your concept. This example has done just that by using a different natural landscape and including animals. For coherence, stick to the same typography and style throughout your presentation.
The aim of the literature review slide is to illustrate your knowledge of your thesis topic and any relevant theories.
Walls of text kill a design. For clarity, we recommend presenting this with bullet points. Each one should be short and sweet and only touch on the basics; you can elaborate on them in your speech.
Don’t forget to be consistent with your design. In our example, we’ve maintained the tone of blue chosen and added illustrations of leaves in the far corners of the slide.
Also, address similar research that has been done and any imperfections. This is to showcase your topic’s originality and, if relevant, how it’s different and/or an improvement from previously done research.
This is one of the most important parts of a thesis defense presentation.
It allows your viewers to assess the rationality and validity of your approach and consequently, the accuracy of your results.
A great methodology slide explains the what, how, and why:
- What method you used for your research
- Why you chose it
- How you conducted it
Because this part of your thesis will be rather technical, the most effective way to aid understanding is by using graphics like charts and tables.
Keep text to a minimum to avoid drawing attention away from the graphics. If there is text that must absolutely be included, consider using bullet points and keep them short.
Don’t forget to maintain color, style, and typography coherence.
The results slides are easily the most quantitative part of a thesis defense.
Here, your aim is to simply introduce your findings. Select the most impactful data and highlight them here.
Just as with methodology, use graphics like charts, tables, and graphs to portray the data in a clear way. Keep text to a minimal and let your data presentation do the talking.
After you’ve introduced your data, the next step would be to help your audience make sense of it. That means understanding what it means in the context of your thesis research topic and your discipline.
Simply put, you should answer the question: What do the numbers mean?
The best way to approach this would be to do it as if you were creating a mini-infographic—with a mix of text and illustrations.
Illustrations like icons are a quick and simple way to represent your message. It also reduces the amount of text on your slide, which makes the information much more digestible.
For a balanced thesis presentation, you should also address any outliers and anomalies.
To quote bestselling author Robin Sharma, “Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”
That’s exactly what to aim for in your conclusion.
Provide an overview of your thesis topic and remind your audience what you set out to answer with your research. In our example, we’ve used three icons accompanied by a short title and text.
Following that, reiterate the important points of your research results you want your audience to take away from your thesis defense presentation.
You can do so by expanding the next slide to have more icons and points, for example.
Don’t forget to address any shortcomings and limitations in your approach and extra points for suggesting possible improvements for future research.
Pro tip: Supercharge your thesis dissertation with great speaking skills. Check out our article on how good presentations make great speakers.