Workshop: Viva Survivor

Earlier this week I wrote about two of the workshops that I deliver, How To Work With Your Supervisor and Creativity for Researchers. Aside from some of the Grad Schools that I’m a facilitator for, the workshop that I deliver most often – and which I think I am most well known for – is Viva Survivor. So in the last post for this week I’ll talk a little about how I came to do this, what I do – and most importantly why I love doing it.

I was originally asked to deliver a session on viva preparation almost five years ago. Since then, I’ve delivered Viva Survivor to over a thousand PhD candidates. It has changed quite a bit over time. There used to be more time spent on thinking about support that people can find; this was changed so that more time is spent exploring what candidates can do to prepare. I tweak the format slightly each time to see what difference a change might make – when is it best to talk about statistics of viva length or pass rates? What tools will help the most?

During a session I try to focus on three key areas. We explore who candidates can get support from and what they could ask for. I share tips for preparing and expectations of the viva – and a good mindset to have. And finally I try to make sure that every question is answered. If someone comes to a Viva Survivor workshop, I know that part of their reason for coming is that they will have at least one question that they want answered. My thought is that if they can get an answer, that will be one less distraction in the way of feeling prepared.

I love delivering Viva Survivor. I know that by doing it, people get help in preparing for the viva. My hope is that they leave the session not only feeling confident, but knowing that it’s right to feel confident. The viva is supposed to be a challenge, but the real work has been done by that point. The workshop inspired the Viva Survivors Podcast, and also lead to my first ebook, Fail Your Viva. Soon my second ebook on viva-related matters will be released! I’ve been very fortunate to have so many opportunities follow on from that original request. If you’d like any details about this workshop or any of the sessions I deliver then please get in touch.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)