Grad15: How to prepare to defend your online thesis or dissertation defenses

Grad15 is a new weekly mini-webinar series tailored to address topics and challenges faced by graduate students in a timely manner.

In this week’s Grad15 mini-webinar, Amanda Athey and Janet Duke shared some timely advice and tips for graduate students preparing to defend their thesis and dissertation defenses online. Here are a few key takeaways from the session:

  • If this is the first time you or your committee have used Zoom, make sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with the platform and its functionality and features.
  • Discuss the presentation structure and logistics with your committee. Consider an in-person defense and decide on the flow of the presentation in advance.
    • How will questions from the audience be handled? When will their cameras or microphones be enabled, if at all? If audience questions are handled through chat, who will monitor the chat room?
    • How will the committee deliberate? Will they use a private break-out room?
    • Who will take notes during the question period following the presentation and/or deliberations?
    • Who will help with timekeeping?
  • Make sure to give yourself adequate time to prepare for the presentation. While your preparation might not look too much different than it would for a traditional in-person defense, the online platform will require a few additional considerations.
    • Familiarize yourself with UTO’s Zoom resources. Technical difficulties during your presentation are the last thing you want or need to worry about!
    • Make sure to adjust your space, lighting, camera angle, and sound in advance.
    • As you format your slides, be sure to leave space on your screen to accommodate Zoom controls and video boxes without blocking slide content.

To download the full slide deck or post any questions you have on online defenses, join us on the GradConnect graduate student resource and discussion board. If you’ve already completed an online defense, come share your own advice and pointers!

Finally, don’t forget to join us on Tuesday, April 7 at 11 a.m. for our next mini-webinar, Take 15: Strategies for Mindfulness with Nika Gueci of ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Resilience and Compassion.