Tips for a successful 3MT presentation
Being successful in the 3MT involves much more than summarizing your research in three minutes. You need to be able to connect with your audience: explain your work in a way non-experts can understand and in a way that makes them interested in hearing what you have to say.
Your talk is the focal point of your presentation. Most of your preparation time should be spent on crafting your talk than on creating your slide.
Although your talk is only three minutes, it will take time to craft a concise presentation of your graduate research in a way that can be understood by and is engaging for a non-expert audience. Below are suggestions to help you create a successful 3MT presentation.
Summarize your work verbally
You'll want to prepare your talk in writing, but you might want to start by expressing your thoughts verbally and using an audio or video recordor to capture what you say.
Write for your audience
- Your presentation needs to be understandable and engaging for people who are not experts in your field of study.
- 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.
- Focus on the big picture, not the details that you typically share in a presentation with experts and peers in your field.
- Imagine that you are explaining your research to a close family member or friend. Explain your work in a way that they could understand what you do and why it is important.
- However, also make sure you do not simplify the explanation of your work so much that it becomes trivial.
- 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 three 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.
- You are not required to introduce yourself in your talk, and it is recommended that you do not introduce yourself because this will count towards your three minute time limit. Your name, degree program, and presentation title will be announced before you give your presentation.
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.
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 humor, but be careful not to devalue your presentation.
Your video should include a single, static slide. Transitions, movement, animations, and sound are not permitted.
Tips for a successful slide
- Your talk, not the slide, is the most critical part of the presentation
- Less is more: Too much text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – you don’t want them to read your slide instead of listening to your talk
- Do not rely on your slide to convey your message: The slide should simply complement your oration. If the slide were not displayed, the audience should should still understand and be engaged by your talk
- 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
- Title and introduction: You may include your presentation title on your slide, but it is not required. Your name, degree program, and presentation title will be announced before your video is played. Therefore, you also should not spend time introducing yourself in your presentation because it will count toward your time limit.
- Proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, or video record yourself, review the recording, and find ways to improve.
- Practice in front of different audiences--colleagues, grad students in other disciplines, family, friends--and ask for feedack
- Ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is about and why it is important. Can they explain to another person what you do and why it's important?
Use the One Button Plus Studio
Located in the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab on the first floor of Hale Library, this small studio room features studio lighting, cameras, microphones, a green screen, and recording equipment that operates through minimal effort. It’s ideal for recording presentations, interviews, and podcasts.
How can the studio help me prepare for the 3MT?
- Easily capture a high quality video recording of your presentation to review or share with others to review.
- You might have different ideas for explaining your research. Use the One Button Plus Studio to capture different versions of your presentation. Then review or share with others to help you select the best version of your presentation.
Reserve the One Button Plus Studio
To use the studio, users plug in a USB flash drive or portable hard drive and touch the touchscreen interface to activate the studio’s lighting, camera and confidence monitor. The user can then adjust lighting, change the background or simply start recording.
- View videos of K-State's previous 3MT® winners and videos of 3MT® winners from around the world for examples of successful 3MT® presentations.
- Your Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Presentation for Presenting on What You Do as a Graduate Student and How it Matters by Brad Rickelman, Meridian Technology Center for Business Development (video presentation)
- Making the Most of Your Three Minutes (pdf) by Simon Clews, University of Melbourne
- The Up-Goer Five Text Editor - Can you explain your thesis using only the 1,000 most commonly used words? Give it a try with this text editor. While we do not recommend that you use this text editor to prepare your entire 3MT® presentation, it can help you identify terms and concepts that may not be well known outside of your field and will require some explanation if used in your presentation. This tool might be especially helpful with developing a presentation title.
- Thesis Gold by Paul Geiger
- Communicating Science: An Introductory Communication Guide for Conveying Scientific Information to Academic and Public Audiences
- The David Attenborough Style of Scientific Presentation (pdf) - This document is designed for preparing a presentation longer than three minutes, but many of the principles are applicable to a three-minute presentation.
- Make an appointment with the Writing Center to receive feedback on how to strengthen your three-minute oration.
Sessions were held in the fall semester to get students acquainted with the 3MT and to share guidance on how to prepare a successful 3MT presentation.