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First and foremost:  remember that this is an incredible opportunity for you!  This may be one of the only times that you have a collection group of faculty experts together in one place to provide and focused on providing you with feedback on the hard work you have done. to advance your research and career!  The following are some tips that may help you know what to expect and feel more prepared.

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For a graduate student defense or committee meeting:

  • Remember first and foremost Again, keep in mind that this is one of the few times in your career that you will get supportive feedback from a panel of scientific experts all focused on improving your research and career!  Take advantage of this precious opportunity by being prepared.
  • Provide a summary of your progress in advance (a short document, <2 pages), and have a powerpoint PowerPoint ready to share your plans and most recent findings.  For a committee meeting,   
  • Use the summary document and the PowerPoint let the committee know in advance what you most want feedback on.
  • Be prepared for questions that push your boundaries of understanding.  That is one goal of the meetings.  We can't help you progress unless we know what the limits of your knowledge are.  But also try not to get flustered, and ask for clarifications or a moment to collect your thoughts if you do find yourself panicking.More to come... 
  • Do not feel pressure to bring snacks or drinks for the committee.  In fact, in Evolutionary Anthropology, students are not allowed to do so!
  • Take notes.  Ask questions if you don't understand the committee's advice.  Make them realize that you are taking their feedback seriously!
  • Even if some members of the committee are critical, be grateful for the feedback, and follow up with specific committee members after the meeting to clarify points they made, update them on any new results based on their feedback, and keep them informed of your progress with grant applications and journal article submissions.