Insights into “3 Minute Thesis Competition”

It’s almost been a year since I first heard of 3 Minute Thesis Competition, which is a national competition in which postgraduates explain their PhD in under 3 minutes with only one static (no videos, animations or sounds) PowerPoint slide for company. For anyone that’s not previously entered or done something similar to 3MT, I want to stress this is a lot harder than it sounds.

I had no idea how much I’d previously relied on my succession of PowerPoints as a mental reminder on what I would be talking about next, and I always feared having a mind-blank halfway through (which thankfully didn’t happen at the competition rounds, despite a few slips in practice runs!). Although initially being a challenge, 3MT ultimately helped me improve my presentation skills, vastly increased my confidence in talking to large audiences and also helped me to better summarise my work, its scientific theory and importance; much to the benefit of my extended family who now have a bit more of an idea as to why I spend days at a time sifting through tons (literally) of megaherbivore faeces.

Being a 1st year postgraduate at the time, I didn’t really expect entering 3MT to amount to anything for me but amazingly it resulted in me becoming a national finalist, winning £800, getting tweeted by my head of department (a big deal in itself), meeting other postgrads studying questions completely beyond my scope of research and propelling me into even more science engagement and outreach opportunities over the past year.

There’s absolutely nothing to lose from entering and I’d recommend it to any PhD student from any faculty (1-3 years, as 4th years are potentially in a cloud of final year write-up stress!). If I can get so far by talking about elephant poo think how good your chances are!

Good luck!

By: Carly Lynsdale (The University of Sheffield’s “3 minute Thesis” winner and National Competition finalist)

March 2015