This is a guest post by Marc Hudson. Marc is a PhD student at The Manchester Business School.
Nga! Buh da GAH! Ngah, Buh DA GAH!!
Four weeks ago 11 University of Manchester post-graduates were enunciating those syllables, throwing coloured balls around a circle and nodding, jumping and hopping. We’d not taken psychedelics, nor were we auditioning for a Channel 5 reality programme “Embarrassing Students”. No, we were receiving brilliant training called “The Athletics of Performance Presentation” by Caroline Clegg.
We were finalists in the “Three Minute Thesis” (3MT) competition run by the University of Manchester.
3MT is exactly what it says. Set up by University of Queensland (many of the best things come from Australia, I think you’ll find). You have three minutes, you have one slide (no animations, no music). No props, no rapping. You’re judged on very specific criteria, including how well you communicate your research, its significance, whether you follow a logical sequence and avoid jargon. Stage presence and precision help
I made the final by the skin of my teeth, having enjoyed the initial training that was open to all participants. The training, by Sam Illingworth, a lecturer in science communication, and included some really good tips on grounding yourself (literally), how to tell a story and much else.
The training meant that there were no real surprises for us – we all saw each other’s presentations, and offered each other specific feedback (“change your slide, “cut that section” that sort of thing). Although we all obviously wanted to win (CV points and half a grand!), I think most were just like me – grateful to be in the final, and grateful that the University had organised it so well and with such good training.
The final itself was brilliant. Ably compered by a stand-up mathematician called Katie Steckles, and judged by four canny and specific-in-their-feedback judges, it ran like clockwork and left the large and appreciative audience with a sense of 12 very different theses.
Although I didn’t deliver quite as well as I wanted to, I was happy enough. And frankly, the winner was never in any doubt – Kirsty McIntyre, talking about placentas in her “The Inside Story of Pregnancy”, absolutely knocked it out of the park. She walked away with £500 in richly-deserved Amazon vouchers. I will be very surprised if she isn’t in the national final (also in Manchester) in September.
Should you get involved in the 3MT contest? Good grief yes! It’s efficiently-run (h/t Alexander Hinchliffe!), involves great training (whether or not you get to the final). You’ll learn how to hone sentences, how to speak confidently. You will get expert feedback from the judges, either in the heat or the final. You’ll learn about other people’s research, share war stories. Most of all, you’ll have fun Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m already in training for next year’s event…
Nga! Buh da GAH!
With thanks to The Division of Development and Alumni Relations (DDAR) for their sponsorship of this event.