Pre-panel review: 9 outlines, 27 proposal drafts and 4 mock presentations!

Pre-panel review: 9 outlines, 27 proposal drafts and 4 mock presentations!

I have talked to many PhD students who passed their panel reviews and everybody said ‘You’ll be fine’. Deep down in my heart I know that I will, but all the nerves and worries I have don’t seem to go away. It’s my nature, I think, to be worried and nervous (a worrying warrior), but I always (I think) turn them into positive energy. Before this Thursday, Jan 16th, I have to be fully prepared to answer any unexpected and sophisticated question my examiners will ask and I don’t think I will have that feeling.

Yesterday I attended a talk titled ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and the message I got from the talk is that the feelings are not facts. What you feel might not be the case and you have to look for evidence to prove it. In my case, preparing for the panel review, I look back from the day I told my supervisor what I wanted to do in my main PhD research (not so long ago) until now. I see that I have put a lot of effort in it, I have been supported by my supervisors and critical friends and the most important thing is I am excited to do this study. So, there are positive pieces of evidence for me to believe that I’m doing alright (I believe).

Now, let me share what I have found helpful for my proposal drafting process and preparing for a panel presentation with you.

Proposal writing

1. Discuss with your supervisor before start writing: Start with what you want to do and move on bit by bit, part by part (purposes, contribution and rationale, etc.). By doing this you will not waste yours and supervisor’s time.

2. The reading is on-going. The focus of your study might also change when you come across new literature.

3. Unlearn what you have learned about academic writing: I have to unlearn all the use of passive voice, the use of synonyms and the long and complicated sentences. The idea is the most important. Say it clear and to the point.

4. The myths about the figures and appendixes: It is also one thing I have to unlearn from doing all the six assignments in my first year. Maybe I misunderstood it that all the figures should be in the appendixes. Don’t be afraid to put them in your text as long as they can help the reader visualize what you are trying to say.

Panel presentation

I feel grateful to my supervisors, tutors and friends who gave me opportunities to do mock panel presentations so I have had some ‘panel’ feeling before the big day. I have also learned some presentation tips from my supervisor and applied them in my presentation in my own ways. Basically, I avoid saying things as they exactly appear on the paper (e.g. the wording and the sequence). Instead of starting with the rationale, I will talk about the motivation to do the study and my personal views on the topic. In so doing I will not have to worry much about the difficult terms and author names but I prepare to answer any question regarding them instead. I also keep my slides clean and have only 10 slides. To do that I taught myself use the hyperlink and the animation features on the PowerPoint efficiently in good timing. (What seems to impress my supervisor the most seem to be that I managed to have underlines pop up under the key words I want to explain. He thought I used magic! Aparecium!)

I will share my post-panel with you all soon. What I need to do now is to prepare to answer questions from my examiners. Excited!


  • Hi Olga! I’m sure that you’ll be fine. Preparation is key and we (in this LTE community) are here for you. Cheering*

  • Volha Arkhipenka

    Congratulations, Khwan! I hope the panel will be as much a success for us as it was for you!

  • Thank you Susan. Stay tuned for the post-panel reflections!

  • Susan Dawson

    Hi Khwan – I’m sort of assuming that Richard’s ‘congratulations’ means that today went well and that you passed which is fantastic news. Well done.

    I really appreciate what you share on this blog and I particularly liked your comments about looking for evidence to judge whether your feelings are right or not. I’ll (try to) remember that one!

  • Richard Fay

    Congratulations 🙂