Top tips for 3MT

We asked previous 3MT participants and judges their top tips for a winning presentation. Here's what they said.

Think circular

Tips from 2021 Science Heat Doctoral Runner-up Amy Renelle

"Try and plan your talk as a circle – a catchy beginning, followed by the problem, why the audience should care, and your solution, and then join back up with the beginning. Plus, sign up with friends! I’ve competed twice, and having peer support and people to practise with made a massive difference – go recruit some other PhD/Masters students in your department!"

Know your story and appeal to emotions

Tips from 2021 Science Heat Doctoral Winner Luke Boyle

“Practise without reading from your script and don’t try to memorise what you want to say exactly word-for-word. That way if you lose your place, you won’t panic as you know your key messages without relying on the exact words. Since it’s a short talk, don’t go too in-depth about your work and try to appeal to people’s emotions through analogies or relatable stories.”

Rules, simplicity, authenticity

Tips from 2019 Doctoral Winner and People's Choice Award winner, Yi-Han Wu

In 2019, Yi-Han Wu took home both the Doctoral Winner and People's Choice awards. In this short video, he shares his top tips for 3MT greatness: knowing the rules, keeping it simple, and staying true to you.

Practice makes perfect

Tips from Scott Pilkington, 2018 and 2019 finalist
"Practice. Practice. Practice. Go to all of the workshops. Sometimes it pays to start with a bit. You have about 10 seconds to hook your audience. Talking about bowel-disease related incontinence? Start with an image of someone running for the toilet. Talking about macular degeneration? Start with an image of someone losing their sight. Talking about volcanic tourism? Start with an image of tourists on the lip of an active vent. Do something to grab their attention. And then practice some more."

Personality, analogy and simplicity

Tips from Georgia Watson, 2018 Masters Winner
"Bring a bit of your personality and humanity into your presentation – let the audience get to know you as a presenter. It helps them connect with you and pay attention to your research.

"Use analogies for technical aspects of your research, and try to avoid acronyms to ensure maximum clarity.

"Keep your slide simple – sometimes a single picture can be the most effective.

"Practice your timing! You get to see the clock when you are giving your presentation, so it’s a good idea to know where in your speech you should be at certain times during your three minutes (when you’re half-way through your time, what are you saying?)

"Don’t be afraid to be a bit dramatic – the Three Minute Thesis is different to presenting a lecture, and a bit of theatrics can help draw the audience into what you are saying.

"Finally, and I know it sounds cheesy, but have fun – the audience picks up on your emotions, and if you are feeling happy and relaxed, so will they."

Tell a story

Tips from Tepora Pukepuke, 2016 finalist
"Run a story line from start to finish, just a thread or a stream of ideas. People love the story, and if you forget your lines you can bounce off the plot line and keep going until you remember your lines."

Practice and passion

Tips from Miriam Siefert, 2017 Doctoral Winner and 2018 judge
"Practice, speak with passion and have fun."

Check out 3MT resources at Planning your presentation.