I am currently writing my master's thesis. My advisor is very busy, and I reckon he will allocate about 1-3 hours a month to actively supervise me, at least in the near future. Due to the ongoing pandemic, our communication takes place via short e-mails and video conferencing. Because of this, I would like to ask about ways to communicate with my supervisor in a productive way.

My impression in the last meeting was that a high-level, conceptual communication would be appropriate. While this could change when my thesis works gets more in-depth, I feel that I need to consider the implication of hands-off supervision where my supervisor will not at all times be up-to-date with my current state.

What I have been doing so far:

  • Summarized our meeting and its outcome in an e-mail
  • For the last meeting, I prepared slides to show my impressions from literature review, which I also e-mailed
  • Presented interesting approaches on a high level (general method, outcome, my brief opinion)
  • For the next meeting, I have set up a doodle to choose a date. I have also given key points for an outline of what I would like to discuss

Since the approaches are very different from each other and there are a lot of them, it is hard to actually break down key elements of them and compare them without going into depth (for me at least). Because I would like the online meetings to be as productive as possible, I am asking for ways to prepare and hold good meetings with my supervisor.


  1. How can I prepare a video meeting in a way that will enable my supervisor to understand my line of thought, and be informed enough to give advise?
  2. What are good ways to present a wide range of methods from a top-level view?
  3. How can I make good use of the video conferencing format, as opposed to a real-life meeting?
  4. If you are a student: What ways to present information to your supervisor have been successful?
  5. If you are an advisor or similar: What do your students do to enable productive and successful online meetings? What is not helpful?

In contrast to other questions on this site, I am not dissatisfied with the amount of supervision I get. I am also specifically asking about video meetings, which make communication harder (e.g. taking turns speaking) but also potentially enable new ways of collaboration (such as screen sharing or meeting people from different locations).

This related question and its answers discuss a hands-on-situation where the advisor takes more time and goes into detail. In terms of productivity, it is suggested for the student to take initiative which I think I'm already doing.

In an answer to a previous question of mine, among other things it was suggested I send update mails to enable my advisor to get an idea of what I'm currently working on.

If this question is too open, please let me know so I can narrow it down. This would make everything more specific, but I think would be less valuable to others facing similar problems.


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