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Preparing for and Conducting a Successful
Remote Dissertation/Thesis Defense

Tips for Graduate Students

  • Create an account. Claim your UC San Diego Zoom Pro account: http://ucsd.zoom.us/
  • Secure your Zoom room. Enact security settings: https://blink.ucsd.edu/technology/file-sharing/zoom/faq.html
  • Arrange a practice session. Ask committee members (or friends, lab members, staff, etc.) to meet one week before your defense date to ensure everyone knows how to log-in, assign co-hosts, use cameras, connect to audio, share the screen, mute all attendees, advance slides, enable the waiting room, use breakout rooms for committee deliberation, try out the “laser” feature in PowerPoint, and get familiar with the technology.
  • Ask committee members to join early. Request that committee members join your remote defense meeting room at least 20-minutes before the start, consider sending them calendar invites with the Zoom link.
  • Be comfortable. Identify a comfortable location to deliver the presentation; there should be good lighting, minimal noise, an appropriate backdrop, and no chance of interruption.
  • Get support. Consider ways you might include others in your remote defense, such as inviting them to the meeting room or having household members in the room for support.
  • Start early. Activate the meeting room 30-minutes prior to the start (remember your committee members will join 20-minutes prior, so you’ll have some time to get situated).
  • TRITON PRO TIP: “I didn't do it just sitting at my desk. I set up a "presentation station" in my living room with a nice table, webcam on a tripod, lapel mic, laptop linked to the TV, etc… I tried to make it as official-looking as possible so that it would feel official. Standing up there helps put you in the right state of mind to give the best presentation possible.” - Dylan L.
  • TRITON PRO TIP: “The waiting room and breakout room features allow you to start the Zoom call with only your committee (for introductions) and then allow audience members to enter once the defense starts. It will also allow the committee to privately deliberate after the defense.” - Thomas K. 
  • TRITON PRO TIP: “I think finding a comfortable location is one of the important things to keep in mind... Being in a comfortable environment helps calm the nerves and allows better focus when being asked questions.” - Preston L. 

Additional Resources

Remote Dissertation Thesis Defense Advice 

Tips & Tricks: Virtual Thesis Defense 

Tips for holding a remote defense

Defending a Dissertation in the Time of COVID-19 by Ashton Merck, PhD, Duke University

Advice for Defending a PhD Remotely

Recently defended your dissertation/thesis and have another tip to add? Email: tschaps@ucsd.edu