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Guide: public defence webinar

A step by step guide to organizing a public defence webinar in Zoom.
[Updated: 2024-04-19]

Set up a Zoom Webinar for the defence

KTH IT-Support helps with instructions, tips and advice, with the start of the Zoom webinar meeting itself, as well as with support in the physical room if wanted.

You need to have a webinar license in order access the webinar section.
Please read the information about how to get a webinar license .

Continue with the settings after you got the license.

Log in at

If you already have scheduled a Zoom meeting you can easily convert it to a webinar by clicking on “Convert this Meeting to a Webinar”. (When you got the license). The Zoom link will become the registration link.

Settings for the webinar

  • Topic: Public defence of doctoral thesis
  • Description: Public information text, see Webinar Description Template (docx 24 kB)
  • Video: Host off; Panelists on
  • Alternative Hosts:
    State the lecture hall (if it is supported), e.g. Kollegiesalen

The sections below become accessible after scheduling the webinar:

  • Invitations: Add the participants under “Invite panelists”
  • Q/A
    - Do not allow anonymous questions
    - Allow attendees to view answered questions only


  • Send the webinar registration link to the respondent who will add it under “Room” when publishing the thesis in DiVA. The information will be added automatically to KTH’s calendar .
    If the link is not available at that time, the respondent should send it to for updating the calendar event as soon as it becomes available.
  • Disable the chat for attendees.

Establish contact with the participants

Send an information mail including a checklist to the participants:
respondent, opponent, grading committee, supervisor(s), chair and eventual replacement.

Make sure you have contact information (e-mail, phone) that will be valid at the defence.

​​​​​​​Mail template 1 – General information (docx 25 kB) ​​​​​​​

Prepare a test run

If in a lecture hall: remember to book KTH IT-support and the hall for the test run.

The webinar can also be used for the test run.
In “Practice Mode” only panelists can participate.
Attendees can only participate after the button “Start Webinar” is pressed.

An attendees can be changed into a panelist and vice versa.

During the test run the Q/A interface can be explored and the participants can understand the auditory perspective. This is very appreciated if one has not experienced it before.

Mail template 2 – Test Run​​​​​​​ (docx 25 kB) ​​​​​​​

Test Run

Test / walk through

  • If host is in the room:
    Turn off the sound on host's computer to avoid acoustic feedback.
  • Hosts starts the meeting
  • Video and sound (remember headset)
  • Screen sharing - test all presentations (chair/respondent/opponent)
  • Q/A:
    Try out the roles as panelist/attendee:
    Attendees can ask questions by typing in Q/A. The panelists can see all questions.
  • Role as attendee: Raise hand and wait for invitation to speak
  • Ask if the defence should be recorded
  • After the Q/A part, the Grading Committee has a separate Zoom meeting. Agree on who will set it up and invite.
    Tip: Arrange with a speakerphone for participants sitting in the same room.
  • Assess who can be co-host at the defense webinar. No additional tasks. This is just a security measure in case the host loses internet connection
  • Tip to the organizer: change the settings in the Zoom meeting to always show Meeting Controls

Make sure all panelists have received the invitation

The invitation is sent automatically to all panelists when setting up the webinar. Check that the invitation has been received by all.

Mail template 3 – Check that panelists got invitation (docx 24 kB) ​​​​​​​

Defence webinar

Start the webinar 20—30 minutes before the defence starts.

If the webinar is set up according to the instructions above, you are now in "Practice Mode".
That implies that only panelist can attend until you press the button "Start Webinar".

  • Disable the chat for attendees.
  • View settings: Choose “Gallery” and “Hide Non-video Participants”
  • Make sure all panelists have joined the webinar.
  • Assign someone as co-host. Certain lecture halls can become co-host.
    NOTE: If the host wants to leave the webinar someone else (e.g. co-host) must be made to host before.

Start broadcasting: Press the button ”Start Webinar” a minute before the set time.

  • Wait for the audience to drop in. At the top of the Attendees window you can see how many have joined.
  • Set the audience view (Attendee View) to “Speaker View” or “Side-by-side: Speaker”. Focus will change automatically to the person speaking.
  • Assist by muting panelists if needed so that focus remains on the Respondent during the presentation

Questions from the auditory

  • All panelists can see the Q/A. They also see which attendees raise their hand.
  • The Respondent can answer the questions live or by typing in the Q/A.
  • Assist moderating by unmuting attendees one at a time and muting before unmuting the next. Be prepared for eventual “Zoom bombing”, kick out attendees if needed.


  1. Chair – Introduction & presentation of panelists
  2. Respondent’s presentation
  3. Discussion
    1. Opponent
    2. Grading Committee
    3. Q/A Audience (write questions in Q/A or raise hand in Zoom app)

Lessons learned

In order to contstantly improve the experience for all participants:
Ask all panelists for feedback regarding

  • Information and preparation
  • Accessibility and quality of support
  • Technical issues regarding sound, video and otherwise
  • Improvement opportunities (e.g. training or information)

Text: Raimund von der Emden