I go over mine here, having successfully defended my doctoral thesis in particle astrophysics a little over 48 hours ago.
Usually, there is a public part of one hour where you could invite friends and family.
I figured: it's an exam - it's go-time.
I am "defending" means I must be, at least, somewhat under attack.
If there is going to be war, I am ready and I didn't want distractions, so I told my friends and family not to come.
It was me, and the 5 committee members.
They started by closing the door and saying alright, we can torture you for two hours!
So, you know, it's up to you.
Do you want no distractions but be alone with them for two hours or do you want some supporters empathizing with you for the first hour?
I made a choice there and I am fine with it.
As part of defending you write a talk that would leave plenty of time for questions.
Using something like PowerPoint.
My talk was 63 slides including the title slide (above), introduction slides, 6 backup slides, and 4 "divider" slides.
After the title slide, I included a "quick orientation" slide.
I have done this in job talks as well and it helped.
It tells people roughly what to expect.
Then I do some motivation and introduction slides - I had total 7 of these.
Especially making sure to motivate anything that is important to the research I will go over later.
Below is one such slide. It shows where my experiment is on the energy scale as compared to other experiments/collaborative efforts.
All of the other experiments are either particle or particle astrophysics experiments.
This slide serves multiple purposes. It is good to acknowledge other experiments and demonstrate knowledge of the field while pointing out why your experiment is unique.
As part of my introduction slides, I explained the basic principle underlying our main detection method.
This is the slide that I got the most questions on.
I was grilled on all parts of it to exhaustion and definitely feel that I could have kept things more straight here.
I got questions on almost every introduction slide and they involved board work.
I knew the committee was not trying to attack me but it was still kind of rough.
As a senior grad student, I had been spending all my time with research, not the basics and coursework.
I had studied for the defense - I went back to undergrad and grad E&M and particle physics books, re-read class notes, etc.
All that helped.
But they still found spots that I was weaker on that day.
The key was to get back on track with the talk once each grilling session was done.
My brain was tired. It didn't help that I was up till 2 am the previous night.
Then again, being tired is nothing unusual for a grad student and we can still put up a fight, right? Right.
Bounce back and pounce again. Like nothing happened.
This was challenging but had to happen in order for me to get through the presentation and show the stuff where I am the boss --> my research.
I introduced the experiment that I knew and loved.
Here I am with a postdoc colleague, Linda, in front of the ANITA-4 payload in Antarctica.
I had 6 slides, including this one, on the experiment and how it worked.
The rest of the talk was my research, stuff I had done, and owned, and published, or not yet published - whatever, it was my stuff.
I used a divider slide to announce the start of a new section of research.
I presented 4 main projects in my talk and put a divider slide before each one.
Below is my divider slide for the start of the first main project I presented.