Three Minute Thesis is back!
3MT: One Take, One Slide, No Props
Communicating your research simply and directly in ways that a wide range of non-experts can understand is intrinsic to research practice.
The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. JCU has a proud history of participating in the event.
An 80,000 word PhD thesis would take 9 hours to present. The 3MT time limit... Three minutes! Compete with our best and brightest battle it out for the 3MT title.
Why We Do It
At JCU, we think it is really important to encourage and showcase the research efforts of our higher degree research (HDR) candidates.
3MT develops academic, presentation and research communication skills, while developing research students’ (and academic researchers) ability to explain their research effectively in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
Visualisations of research opens myriad ways to capture and convey key messages and findings and substantially increase the reach and potential impact of the research through social and mainstream media, YouTube and other platforms.
JCU will award winners with the following prizes:
- Higher Degree by Research Student Plaque + Certificate + $500.00 value Gift Certificate
- Academic/Research Staff Plaque + Certificate + $500.00 value Gift Certificate
- External Partners Plaque + Certificate + $500.00 value Gift Certificate
- People's Choice Plaque + Certificate
When: Friday 28 August | 1:00pm to 3:00pm (Singapore time)
Your JCU 3MT entry must include the following
- Category of Submission
- Academic Discipline Area/Institute
- 3MT Presentation Title
- 3MT Abstract (100 words)*
- 3MT PowerPoint (one slide only) in the template provided*
- Passport Size Photo (high res)
- Mobile/Phone Number
(* write to email@example.com to request for the Abstract Form and PowerPoint template)
Entries for JCU Singapore 3MT close Wednesday 19 August.
Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
Register HERE to attend the event.
Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible. MPhil and pre-confirmation PhD candidates who are active in their program will still be eligible to participate in the JCU Singapore 3MT competition but cannot advance to the JCU 3MT Final.
- 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 (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
- Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech.
- The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
At every level of the 3MT competition, each competitor will be assessed on the three judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.
1. Comprehension & Content
- Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
- Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
- Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
- Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
- Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
2. Engagement & Communication
- Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
- Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
- Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
- Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
- Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
- Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible and concise?
3MT - Additional Information for Competitors
- Less is more – text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – you don’t want them to read your slide instead of listening to your 3MT.
- Personal touches – can allow your audience to understand the impact of your research.
- Creativity drives interest – do not rely on your slide to convey your message – it should simply complement your oration.
- Work your message – think about how your slide might be able to assist with the format and delivery of your presentation – is there a metaphor that helps explain your research?
- An engaging visual presentation can make or break any oration, so make sure your slide is legible, clear and concise.
Write for your audience
- 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.
- Highlight the outcomes of your research, and the desired outcome.
- Imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow candidate from another field.
- Convey your excitement and enthusiasm for your subject.
Tell a story
- You may like to present your 3MT as a narrative, with a beginning, middle and end.
- It’s not easy to condense your research into 3 minutes, so you may find it easier to break your presentation down into smaller sections.
- Try writing an opener to catch the attention of the audience, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.
- Have a clear outcome in mind.
- Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
- Try to leave the audience with an understanding of what you’re doing, why it is important and what you hope to achieve.
- Proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, to yourself and to an audience of friends and family.
- Ask for feedback.
- Ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is about and why it is important.
Practice, practice, practice
- Feeling nervous before you present is natural, and 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. Practicing will also help you gauge the timing of your 3MT so that you keep within the time limit.
- 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.
- Stand (or sit) straight and confidently.
- Hold your head up and make eye contact.
- Never turn away from the audience.
- Practice how you will use your hands and move within the allocated space (you must remain in the confines of the Zoom screen space so that the Zoom audience – including the judges – are able to see and hear you at all times). It is OK 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. Keep this in mind for your Zoom presentation.
- If you choose to stand to present, do not make the common mistake 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.
- If you choose to stand to present, avoid trying to get your full body on the screen if it takes you too far away from your microphone. It is important that you can be heard clearly. Do a test run in a Zoom meeting with a friend or family member prior to the event day.
- 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.
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.
- View presentations by previous 3MT finalists – check out the UQ and JCU 3MT websites.
- There is no dress code. If you are unsure how to dress, you may like to dress for a job interview or an important meeting. It is important that you feel comfortable so you can focus on your presentation.
- Do not wear a costume of any kind as this is against the rules (as is the use of props).
- A/Prof Louise Phillips and A/Prof Liz Tynan will both be running 3MT coaching sessions in July and August respectively, so keep an eye open for our email invitations to their workshops.