MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

General Guide for Using WebEx

Familiarize yourself with WebEx:

GSBS website info

Short video on WebEx

Create an account by accessing your institutional site:



Use either Chrome or Firefox, sign in and follow the on-screen prompts. Allow WebEx to use your webcam and mic when prompted. You may be asked to install a small WebEx application.

Customize your profile – upload your photo.

Practice by attending a meeting with someone who knows about WebEx. The following GSBS staff will be happy to practice with you – just write to one of them to set up a time to practice:

Natalie Sirisaengtaksin

Elisabeth Lindheim

Amanda Williamson

Carolyn Agurcia-Parker

Karen Weinberg

Tips for Attending a Thesis Defense via WebEx [see more tips at bottom of page]

If you are working remotely, make sure that you have a stable high-speed internet connection

Mute your mics and video until you need to speak to lessen the distraction for other participants

The student should make a list of the participants' contact information (names, email addresses and phone numbers) including their own, and share it with all committee members prior to the meeting. Have it handy on the day of the defense in case participants do not join the meeting (a reminder may be needed).

All participants, but especially the student and Advisor, should feel comfortable using WebEx. Practice with each other (or one of the GSBS staff members listed above) before the meeting.

Ideally, all participants should have a brief online meeting before the actual meeting to ensure that connections can be made, speakers can be heard, and the PowerPoint can be shared.

Individuals who do not have access to a computer may choose to attend by calling the toll-free number and entering the code associated with the meeting invitation (the info will be included in the meeting calendar invitation). Slides should be sent to them beforehand so that they can follow along during the meeting. 

Defense Format

Once the date and time are set for the defense, the student’s Advisor (or another committee member who may be more familiar with WebEx) will schedule the meeting from the WebEx website and invite participants. The Advisor (or experienced committee member) will “host” the defense.  It is also possible for the student to do the work of scheduling the meeting (which makes the student the host) and later change the role of the Advisor to host. To do so, just right click on the name of the Advisor in the list of participants, choose "Change Role" and change to "Host".  Roles may be switched during the meeting.   

Here is some info on making your WebEx meeting more secure.

To maximize safety, no participants in the meeting should be in the same room.

Students may invite colleagues, friends and family to attend the seminar portion of their defense by sending them a link to the meeting. The same link should be sent to Joy Lademora at least 10 days before the defense so that it can be posted in the GSBS Essential.

At the start of the meeting, the host should remind the participants that when they are not speaking, they need to mute their mics and videos to lessen distractions (this is important!).

When it is time for the student to present, WebEx allows the student to easily share the slide presentation. Important: To be heard clearly, the student must present the slides while sitting in front of the computer, not while standing next to a live slide presentation that is some distance from the computer. It is best to share all slides with attendees through the WebEx app.

For the private, student- and committee-only portion of the defense, the Advisor will ask any outside participants to exit the meeting (or else start a new meeting for the student and Advisory Committee).

The student should have a surface available to draw or write something on in case the committee asks them to do so just like they often do in a live meeting. The best advice is to set up in a conference room with a white board at the student's back in case it is needed. Alternatively, the student could have a large pad of blank paper to write on and hold up to the camera.

At the end of the private portion of the defense when the student would usually be asked to leave the room, the student will exit the meeting. When the committee is ready for the student to rejoin the meeting, the Advisor will text the student. 

IT Assistance

The GSBS IT support (Michael Valladolid and Michael Orlando) have volunteered to join the student's WebEx defense about 10-15 minutes before it begins to make sure that all is well.  They’ll stick around for about 5-10 minutes once the defense starts to make sure that things are going smoothly. You may also text them during the defense if something happens and you need urgent assistance (Natalie Sirisaengtaksin will be happy to share their cell phone numbers with you beforehand).  

If students want an IT staff to be there for them, when they set up their defense (meeting) in WebEx, they should include said staff as a participant by sending an email invitation to

Forms for the Defense

Please follow the steps below:

Before the defense, the student will type the preliminary required information into the fillable-PDF results and evaluation forms and send them to the Advisor.  

Links to MS forms: Results and Evaluation

Links to PhD forms: Results and Evaluation

At the defense, the Advisor will complete the results and evaluation forms.

After the defense, the Advisor will email the result and evaluation forms to and copy all members of the committee who attended the defense (including the substitute, if one was needed) and the student. In the email, each committee member will be asked to confirm their agreement of the defense result by sending a reply-all email stating "OK" or "I approve".

Questions? Contact Dr. Bill Mattox or Dr. Natalie Sirisaengtaksin!

Real time tips from a student who just defended using WebEx: