NUGGET 009 by ME
*Dedicated to my Project Students/Supervisees

I did say I’ll, in this episode, talk about audience-consciousness or audience-centredness. Sorry. I’m very sorry to shift it to NUGGETS 010 for a reason. This is the season of final year project defence in some universities. NUGGETS 009 might be of help to some student somewhere. Catch?

Just last week, my undergraduate project students/supervisees underwent a viva voce. What’s a viva voce? I’ll tell you. This nugget is inspired by Lilian Omosigho who asked, “Mazi, how can I face the external examiner and other members of the defence panel?”

Viva voce means a spoken or oral exam. Viva voce is a kind of public speaking. Essentially, it’s that kind of speech which a university student gives to defend a final year project, a thesis or dissertation. It’s also known as a viva or project defence.

The practice is that the student has to sit before a panel comprising an external examiner, the Head of Department, and some departmental lecturers, and answer questions concerning the topic he or she worked on.

This year, in the Department of English Studies, University of Port Harcourt, the external examiner/assessor was Prof Damian Opata, a no-nonsense, thoroughbred scholar from University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Also in the panel were our own Drs Ikenna Kamalu, Stephen Anurudu, Tambari Dick, Oyeh Otu, Vincent Obobolo, among others. Profs Omolara Ogundipe, Nkem Okoh also put in an appearance. *in Naijaspeak* ME, I also dey there live. *wide toothy smile*

Moments before the panel sat, Lilian Omosigho asked ME, “How can I face the external examiner and other members of the defence panel?”, I smiled, and gave her the simple strategies I’ve been talking about (or I’m going to talk about) in this forum.

1. Prepare your delivery.
2. Rehearse your delivery.
3. Visualize your delivery.
4. Stay audience-conscious. This word again!
5. Deliver or speak with passion.

In your delivery, Keep It Short, Simple, Clear and Straightforward: KISS-CS. Be real; don’t fake a foreign accent. You won’t be able to sustain the fakeness in the next five, ten minutes. You’ll be asked questions that’ll circle around your project topic, your theoretical framework, the scope of your study, your contribution to scholarship/knowledge, etcetera.

Let me illustrate with the following:
Question: What topic did you work on?
Answer: The topic of my research is The Language of Emoticons on Facebook.
It is all about xyz. (talk about the topic briefly)
Question: What’s your theoretical framework?
Answer: The theoretical framework I used is Computer Mediated Discourse which has to do with xyz. (explain what the theory is all about)
Question: What’s your contribution to knowledge?
Answer: To the best of our knowledge, this long essay is a fresh attempt to situate emoticons as a distinct language and vehicle to convey the temperaments, emotions of language-users on Facebook.

Trust me, project or long essay defence is NOT a death sentence. It’s a simple exercise. Walk into the room confidently. Greet the examiner and panel members. Sit yourself down. Breathe in. Breathe out. Get ready. Set. Go!

It’s all over. Congratulations!

Be inspired; stay inspired!
Mazi Eze (ME)

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