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Remote VCDX Defense Tips

Remote VCDX defense option has normally been reserved for candidates attempting to achieve their second, third, or even fourth VCDX. But in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a remote VCDX defense seems to be a possibility for candidates trying to receive their first VCDX in some cases.

I got my VCDX in January 2020 through a remote defense, and I thought it may be valuable to share what I’ve used during my defense for candidates who may have remote defenses in the future.

Basics

  • You will have 3 panelists and 1 moderator, just like an in-person defense. They will be on video.
  • You will have the same amount of time as you would at an in-person defense - 75 minutes for defense section, 45 minutes for design section.
  • You have to be on video so make sure you have a decent quality camera.
  • Make sure you have a good headset/mic so that the panelists can hear you clearly and vice versa.

My Setup

  • I had two monitors, a mouse, and a keyboard connected to my laptop.

  • Once in PowerPoint “Slide Show” mode, the presentation would show in one screen and the controls on the other, and I would share the screen with the presentation with the panelists.
    /2020-05-26-tips-for-remote-vcdx-defense/setup.png

  • During the presentation, I used the presentation pen tool in PowerPoint to whiteboard as necessary.
    /2020-05-26-tips-for-remote-vcdx-defense/presentationpen.png

  • On each slide, on the top right corner, I had a symbol/image that takes me to a blank slide which I used as a whiteboard to draw things. I didn’t have any fancy pens, iPad, or Surface Book so I practiced drawing in PowerPoint with my mouse using the pen tool before the presentation.
    /2020-05-26-tips-for-remote-vcdx-defense/presentationpendrawing.png

  • During the design scenario, I used a blank PowerPoint presentation. I used the first slide to write out the requirements, constraints, assumptions, risks, and additional notes.
    /2020-05-26-tips-for-remote-vcdx-defense/designscenario.PNG

  • I created a new slide every time I wanted to draw something. I practiced doing this in mock scenarios so that I got used to creating diagrams with PowerPoint shapes. I would flip back and forth between the slides as necessary, and during the defense, I frequently went back to the first slide to make sure I was covering all the requirements.
    /2020-05-26-tips-for-remote-vcdx-defense/designscenario2.PNG

Final Words

I shared with you what I’ve done in my own remote defense and it worked well for me, but your defense is your own and you should do what makes you comfortable. The defense itself is already a nerve-wrecking experience so you don’t want to put additional stress on yourself by using tools that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. I would recommend that you do couple mock defenses using the tools that you will use in the actual defense beforehand. Practice makes perfect. Good luck!