Video Conferencing for Graduate Student Defences

Health Computing can provide technical support when a graduate student proposal, comprehensive exam or thesis defence has online attendees. We recommend that Faculty and students participating in these defences review the following information to prepare appropriately.

On this page, we will refer to proposals, comprehensive exams and thesis defences as "defence".

Summary of responsibilities


  • Schedule the online component of the defence by sending a meeting invitation to the candidate and any committee members who will be attending online. Contact the Faculty of Health Graduate Studies Administrator for details on obtaining additional support and coordination from Health Computing for PhD Final defences (including hosting the online component).
  • Supervisors should use the video conferencing platform they are most comfortable with but please note that Zoom is recommended over Teams when non-UW attendees are joining online. See "Self-Host a Remote Defence" under Additional Resources below. Webex remains an option for those comfortable with that platform.
  • Advise the candidate and online attendees to contact Health Computing to do a technology check 7-10 days prior to the defence (use the links below): 
  • Contact Health Computing (well in advance of the defence date) if you have difficulties setting up the online meeting
  • Perform the role of host for the meeting
  • If issues arise during the defence, email and include the meeting link and on-campus location

Health Computing IT specialist

  • Upon request:
    • conduct test video conference session with candidate and online attendees prior to the defence.
    • assist with in-room video conferencing equipment set up 
    • provide technical support/troubleshooting during the defence

Candidate and Remote Attendees

  • Familiarize yourself with the online platform if you have not used it before.
  • Confirm attendance for test video conference session with Health Computing IT specialist.
  • Ensure you have all the equipment you need prior to joining the test and defence meetings.
  • Ensure your device and internet connection will transmit your voice and video quality clearly.

Tips for a successful defence

It is recommended that the following information is reviewed to avoid any problems that could occur during the defence.

Prior to the defence

  • Install the Zoom Client for Meetings or Cisco Webex Meetings Desktop app as appropriate.
  • Online attendees should use a headset with a built-in microphone to ensure clear audio and minimized background noise.
  • The candidate and online attendees should attend their scheduled test video conference session, especially if they are unfamiliar with Webex.
  • The candidate should circulate their presentation to committee members and other attendees prior to the defence (PDF format preferred)
  • Reboot and close any applications on your device that will not be needed for the defence a few hours prior to entering the meeting.
  • If permitted, the candidate is able to forward the defence meeting invitation to family and friends. Please do not share any meeting link information on social media or any public platform. Approval to forward the invitation must be granted by the Chair.
  • The candidate and committee members are advised to join the meeting in a well-lit (backlighting can make it difficult to see) and quiet place.

At the defence

  • The candidate and online attendees should join the meeting at 10-15 minutes early to allow time to address any technical issues.
  • If issues arise during the defence, email and include the meeting link and on-campus location
  • Remote attendees are advised to mute their mics when they are not speaking.
  • The candidate and online attendees should mute their system and application notifications.
  • The candidate will share their screen for online attendees to see their presentation (if applicable). After the presentation, the candidate should stop screen sharing.
  • Remote committee members are encouraged to keep their video camera on (bandwidth permitting). Other online attendees must have their cameras turned off during the defence unless instructed otherwise by the Chair.
  • All non-committee members (guests) must leave the online meeting after the committee finishes their rounds of questions.
  • If the candidate is attending online, the Supervisor or Host will move the candidate to the Waiting Room (Zoom) or Lobby (Webex) using the participant list for the duration of the committee deliberation. When the committee is ready to announce their decision, the Supervisor will use the participant list to admit the candidate back into the meeting.
  • For detailed instructions, see the "During the Meeting" section of the Faculty of Environment's Host a Defence pages for Webex or Zoom

Additional Resources

Self-Host a Remote Defence (Faculty of Environment)

For more tips, see best practices for Webex Meetings (not just for Webex)

IST Knowledge Base on Zoom

IST Knowledge Base on Webex

Zoom Help Center

Webex Help Center

If you have any questions or concerns regarding remote defences after reading the information on this page, please contact us.