Self-host a remote defence

For the purpose of this document, comprehensive exam and thesis defence will be referred to as “defence”.

The thesis supervisor is responsible for hosting their student's defence. As the host, you can choose whichever platform you feel most comfortable using for the defence. You may use Microsoft Teams but be sure you have a way to communicate with the candidate to re-enter the meeting after the deliberation. If you have no preference, use Zoom. Please review and implement the tips below to ensure the defence will run smoothly. As the host, it is important to do a test meeting a few days prior to the defence to address any technical issues.

For each of the platforms, step-by-step instructions are provided:

If you have any difficulties with setting up your defence, please email well in advance of the defence date. If you encounter issues during the defence, please email and include the meeting link.


Before the defence:

  • Test a few days prior to the defence, and be as prepared as you can for the test meeting (to replicate the same setup as on the day of the defence). Be sure to test whether the candidate can share their presentation, and practice moving the candidate to the lobby.

  • Use the Zoom or Webex app, especially if you are hosting the defence.

  • Be sure to log in on the app with your WatIAM credentials.

  • Using a wired headset, headphone or earbuds (with mic) will significantly improve the audio quality.

  • You can improve your bandwidth by:

    • Quitting all unused apps and ensure they are not running in the background (e.g., MS Teams, OneDrive, Outlook, etc.).

    • Asking other users of your home internet not to hog the internet during the defence (e.g., download/upload large files, stream HD movies, play online games, etc.).

    • Ensure you have a strong WiFi signal (e.g., be in the same room as the modem/router) or connect your computer to the modem/router with an ethernet cable.

During the defence:

  • Join 5-10 minutes early to settle down and do a quick test.

  • Be sure to improve your bandwidth.

  • When the candidate begins their defence, mute your mic and unmute only when speaking.

  • If the bandwidth permits, keep the camera on so the candidate can get some visual cues as to how the presentation is going. Otherwise, turn off camera (except for the candidate).

  • At the end of the presentation, ask the candidate to stop sharing the screen (unless referring to the presentation).

  • Be sure the camera is on and mic is unmuted before announcing the decision to the candidate.

For the candidate (in addition to the above):

  • Prior to your defence, send your PowerPoint to all the committee members. Consider converting your PowerPoint into PDF format before sending it to reduce file size and preserve the format.

  • If applicable, print out your presentation notes in case Presenter Mode does not work. You also need a second monitor to use Presenter Mode.

  • Have water in a closeable lid and other essentials (e.g., pen and paper) within reach in case you need them.

  • Please have your support system (e.g., family and friends, fur babies, etc.) readily available to provide support or celebrate post-decision.


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If you have technical issues, email If you need help after hours or on the weekends, contact IST Service Desk.