I am about to defend my MS thesis in Physics. How much detail of the methods should I add in the presentation? In my thesis, I have compared the results of my method to an other method's results. Should I give a brief introduction of that method too?

One of the members of the defense committee is from the other field of research. Should I make my presentation very detailed so that he can understand it? But it will make the presentation very long. Probably, more than 40 minutes long.

2 Answers 2


My general guideline for this is to present at a level your audience will understand. For example if your audience are other physics Masters students, you can expect them to be familiar with quantum mechanics, although not necessarily concepts such as neural networks or Monte Carlo Markov Chains; but if your audience are first-year undergraduates then you cannot assume any of those.

Your talk also needs to be self-contained. If the audience cannot understand your talk without knowing the other method for example, that's not good and you should give an introduction to that method a well.

If you're still concerned, try practicing with a fellow student. You can give your talks to each other, and if the other is completely confused, you know there's a problem to fix.


Your advisor can give you the best advice. You might also attend another student's presentation to get an idea of what is typical at your institution.

But probably you should cover the ground lightly but be ready to supply more detail as requested. Focus more on your own contribution, but don't neglect the basis on which your work rests. Probably a 70/30 or even 80/20 split seems about right.

If you haven't given enough detail, I assume you will be asked questions, so be prepared for that with a more complete explanation.


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