Leo Lam

Leo LamPhD in Electrical Engineering, Adjunct Faculty at University of Washington

Some assumptions need to be made here. I am assuming that you have all the materials you need to present and that all research required to pass your defense is available, and that your adviser has agreed that it is sufficient. I am also assuming that this is a Master thesis (using the American definition for a thesis, for a PhD it would be a dissertation).

With that said, I should remind you of the goal: to demonstrate that you have performed original research, with results at a level that are commensurate with a Master degree (specificity dependent on your institution/adviser).

If that’s the case, 5 days would be plenty. Also, this applies to a great presentation, not a mediocre one.

  1. Divide: break your presentation into parts, like introduction (short), discussion of existing knowledge (short), problem you needed to solve (medium length), research work (medium length), results (detailed discussion) and conclusion (short). I am using relative terms since you did not specify how long your presentation is going to be.
  2. Conquer: After you have broken up the presentation into parts, think about what your audience needs to hear in each part. Start with a liberal amount of content, and you will notice your presentation is likely going to be too long. Distil it down to the most important points, then create the slide content. Your slide should be clean, with clear data (and not too verbose). You should aim that your audience will be listening to you, instead of reading everything on screen. Your slide should be supplemental to your talk.
  3. Practice: Once you have the slide deck down, practice. Your script should be mostly memorized and if you need any note, make it very short and only uses it to remind you of the content. Don’t read from a script.
  4. Get feedback: You should pre-present with both your peers and your adviser if she/he is amenable to that. Get feedback. Tweak. Practice.


Hope this is helpful. Best wishes on your defense.