Three Minute Thesis Competition Resources
This year an exciting new element will be incorporated into the Undergraduate Research Conference program, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) Competition.
3MT is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland, and is now run all over the world.
Students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance, and have the chance to win great prizes. 3MT is not an exercise in trivialising or ‘dumbing-down’ research but forces students to consolidate their ideas and crystalise their research discoveries.
The Office of Undergraduate Education would like to extend an invitation to students, staff, colleagues, friends and family to attend this event on Tuesday 18 September, 2012.
The ability to communicate the importance of your research project and articulate your findings is very valuable. 3MT provides you with the opportunity to:
- communicate your ideas effectively to the wider community;
- describe your research findings to a non-specialist audience; and
- crystalise your thoughts about your research project.
This competition is of particular appeal to Honours students, as it is a great way to reflect on and distil your thesis, and consider the purpose of your research.
The winners of the Undergraduate Research Conference 3MT Competition will be awarded:
- $1000 for the winner
- $500 for the People's Choice winner
What is required?
Participants have three minutes, and use a single PowerPoint slide to present a compelling oration on their research project topic and its significance.
The Undergraduate Research Conference 3MT competition is open to current UQ undergraduate researchers or honours students. If you are a Research Higher Degree student, please visit the UQ Graduate School's 3MT competition website.
- A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
- No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
- No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
- Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
- Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
- Presentations are to commence from the stage.
- Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
- The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
Each competitor will be judged on the three judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.
1. Communication style: was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
- Did the speaker use sufficient eye contact and vocal range, maintain a steady pace, and a confident stance?
- Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology that needed to be used, and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
- Did the presenter spend the right amount of time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long or were rushed?
- Did the PowerPoint slide enhance, rather than detract from, their presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?
2. Comprehension: did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
- Did the presenter clearly outline the nature and aims of research?
- Do you know what is significant about this research?
- Did the presentation follow a logical sequence?
3. Engagement: did the oration make the audience want to know more?
- Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or dumb down their research?
- Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their work?
- Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
- Would I like to know more about the speaker's research?
Even the world’s best public speakers prepare before important presentations. The UQ Graduate School has prepared a number of tips for 3MT presenters, that will help you in write your presentation, create your slide and practise your verbal presentation.
Writing your 3MT
1. Write for your audience
One of the judging criteria looks for evidence that you can explain your research to a non-specialist audience. To do this you may like to:
- avoid jargon and academic language;
- explain concepts and people important to your research - you may know all about Professor Smith’s theories but your audience may not;
- imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow student from another field; and
- do not dumb down or devalue your research, what you are doing is exciting and you should convey enthusiasm for your subject.
2. Have a clear outcome in mind
Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Ideally, you would like the audience to leave with an understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
3. Tell a story
You may like to present your 3MT like a story, with a beginning, middle and an end. It’s not easy to condense your research into three minutes, so you may find it easier to break your presentation down into smaller sections. Try writing an opener to catch their attention, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.
4. What not to do
Do not write your presentation like an academic paper. Try to use shorter words, shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs. You can use humour, however be careful not to dumb down your presentation.
You may like to proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, firstly to yourself and then to an audience of friends and family. This allows you to not only check your grammar and writing style, but it will allow you to receive critical feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is and why it is important.
Creating your 3MT slide
Before you start work on your slide, you should take the following rules into account:
- a single static PowerPoint slide is permitted;
- no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are permitted;
- your slide is to be presented from the beginning of your oration; and
- no additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
Practising your 3MT presentation
1. Practice, practice, practice
Feeling nervous before you present is natural, and sometimes a little nervousness can even be beneficial to your overall speech. Nonetheless, it is important to practice so you can present with confidence and clarity.
2. Vocal range
- Speak clearly and use variety in your voice (fast/slow, loud/soft).
- Do not rush - find your rhythm.
- Remember to pause at key points as it gives the audience time to think about what you are saying.
3. Body language
- Stand straight and confidently.
- Hold your head up and make eye contact.
- Never turn your back to the audience.
- Practise how you will use your hands and move around the stage. It is okay to move around energetically if that is your personality, however it is also appropriate for a 3MT presentation to be delivered from a single spot on stage.
- Do not make the common mistakes of rolling back and forth on your heels, pacing for no reason or playing with your hair as these habits are distracting for the audience.
4. Record yourself
Record and listen to your presentation to hear where you pause, speak too quickly or get it just right. Then work on your weaknesses and exploit your strengths.
5. Look to the stars!
Watch your role models such as academics, politicians and journalists, and break down their strengths and weaknesses. Analyse how they engage with their audience.
While there is no dress code, if you are unsure of how to dress you may like to dress for a job interview or an important meeting. Do not wear a costume of any kind as this is against the rules (as are any props).
If you are looking for inspiration for your 3MT, why not watch videos of previous 3MT finalists!
UQ Student wins thesis in 3 minutes
3 October 2011
Three Minute Thesis goes global
18 August 2011
Chilli cancer cure on the cards
15 September 2010
PhD student explains the art of being deaf
15 September 2010
Can I present my oration as a poem, rap or song?
No. While we appreciate everyone has a different presentation style, the purpose of the activity is to "engage the audience without reducing research to entertainment value alone”. 3MT is primarily about developing a student’s oration skills. It is important that the competition is not seen as trivialising research or science.
Can I use a laser pointer?
Yes. A laser pointer is not considered a prop. However, the emphasis is on the oration.
Does my slide have to be in PowerPoint?
No, however it is our preferred format as all slides will be collated into a single PowerPoint presentation form competition.
How many transitions or animations can I have in my slide?
|None. The slide must be static and not change in any way during the presentation. Your slide must be displayed for the duration of your presentation.
Do I have to use a slide?
No. The slide is optional as the emphasis is on the oration.
What happens if my presentation is longer than 3 minutes?
A 20 second warning will be provided to competitors and a again at the three minute limit. If a presenter continues to speak after the signal, they will be automatically disqualified.
Is there a dress code?
There is no stipulated dress requirement such as ‘smart casual’. Some students have worn suits with ties, others t-shirts and jeans. Please wear whatever is comfortable for you. Please note that no costumes are allowed (including hats, masks, Dame Edna specs, etc).
Can I win more than one category?
Yes, it is possible to win a first place and win the People’s Choice award.
If you have any queries about the UQ Undergraduate Conference 3MT competition, please contact the Student Engagement Team on +61 7 3365 2929, or email@example.com. If you are a Research Higher Degree student, please visit the UQ Graduate School's 3MT competition website.