Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an international research communication competition, designed to help students improve public speaking skills with public audiences.
At Mizzou, 3MT® is also a professional development program that includes training, practice sessions with feedback, and a public speaking competition.
The rules for the fall 3MT® competition are simple:
2018 Competition Dates
October dates announced soon!
The public is invited to attend the final competition to vote on the People’s Choice Award!
Arrive early! All events begin promptly at 7 PM in the Leadership Auditorium, MU Student Center.
The overarching aim of Mizzou 3MT® is for graduate students to acquire effective public speaking skills.
This professional development program includes storytelling training; presentation seminars; practice sessions with feedback; individual consultation with feedback; and a fall public speaking competition, Mizzou 3MT®.
A student who fully participates in the program will be able to:
Reaping the Benefits of Public Speaking
Conquering your fear of public speaking – and honing your talent – will set you apart on the job market: Multiple surveys have shown that verbal communication skills are in high demand by employers across job sectors.
Once you develop the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, you will be able to apply the skill during job interviews, conference presentations, classroom instruction, or pitching your innovation to potential investors.
Official 3MT® Eligibility
According to the official 3MT® rules at the University of Queensland, “Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone ([i.e., comprehensive exams;] including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels… Graduates are not eligible.”
Mizzou’s 3MT® competition is open to all PhD candidates in research-based degree programs who:
Those who have successfully defended during the fall semester may still participate in 3MT, as Mizzou graduate degrees are not conferred until December commencement. Those who have have graduated are not eligible.
You MUST be available for orientation, the preliminary rounds, semifinals (if held), and finals. If selected as one of the Mizzou’s 3MT® winners, competitors must also agree to (a) further professional development to hone presentation skills and (b) participate in regional 3MT® competitions including the Conference of Southern of Graduate Schools or the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools. Travel expenses will be paid for by the University.
The presentation must be made in English.
*Additional rules for Mizzou’s 3MT® contest: When the planning committee notifies you of your presentation time (about a week before the competition), you must re-confirm your participation AND submit your single slide for the competition. Failure to confirm or submit your slide by the deadline will result in disqualification.
The Mizzou 3MT competition rounds will be held in a campus auditorium. Depending on the location we are able to reserve, you may be presenting from a stage, but without a podium. Your one slide will appear on a screen behind you. There are no microphones, so be prepared to speak loudly so that you can be heard and understood clearly.
The number of contestants will dictate the number and type of rounds we hold. Generally, we plan on several preliminary rounds, a semi-final round, and a 3MT final round.
We recommend professional or business attire. No jeans. Truman’s Closet is service for Mizzou students who wish to borrow business attire for special events and job interviews free of charge.
At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on two judging criteria. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.
Criterion 1: Comprehension & Content
Criterion 2: Engagement & Communication
3MT® competitions help doctoral candidates fine-tune their public presentation skills with a long term goal of improving public scientific literacy. Toward this goal, competitors are required to present their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist (lay) audience. Therefore, the Mizzou 3MT planners have invited people from a variety of backgrounds to judge the competition.
First, understand the two official judging criteria because this is how your Mizzou 3MT® presentation will be scored by the judges.
Strategy: When you practice your presentation in front of family, friends, faculty, or research colleagues, give them a copy of the judging criteria. Ask them to rate your presentation. They should be able to respond to every question with a “yes.” Of utmost importance: Your ability to explain your research without technical terms and jargon.
Second, your slide must be engaging. It should enhance, not detract, from your educational message. Images should be top quality.
Strategy: Ask your mentor, colleagues, and family to critique your slide. Do they respond favorably to the image(s)? Is any part of the slide confusing or difficult to see? Do they believe your slide enhances your public education message?
Third, in a 3MT® competition, what you say will be important, but how you deliver your message will be the key to winning.
Strategy: Critique several research-related presentations designed for public audiences. Identify what makes certain public speakers more effective than others, then practice those skills. As you watch and listen, ask these questions:
Simon Clews from University of Melbourne: Making the most of your three minutes.
Danielle Fisher from UCSD 10 Hints for Improving Presentations for the Three Minute Thesis Competition
Dr. Inger Mewburn from ANU: “How to win the 3 minute thesis”
UQ GradSchool: 3MT Student Handbook see pp. 9 & 10
Flinders University: Hot tips for students
April 24, 2018 from Noon – 1:00 p.m., location TBA
July 2018 (details forthcoming)
September 2018 (details forthcoming)
Mizzou 3MT® Orientation (Mandatory)
Note: You MUST attend one of these orientation sessions:
October 2018 (details forthcoming)
Fall 2018 dates TBA
20 minute sessions (present-feedback-present). Sign up form will be available to registered contestants in October.
3 MT Competition*
2018 dates TBA
Are all degree candidates eligible?
To be eligible, you must be actively pursing a research-based doctoral (PhD) degree. Master’s students are not elegible. For this current competition, you must have your or D3 (doctoral) form and advisor consent form on file by the stated deadline.
What is the D3 Form?
These are forms that officially document you have reached candidacy status toward earning a degree. Once you have passed comprehensive examinations, the D3 must be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies. Check with your degree program office for more information.
I’ve already defended. Am I still eligible to participate?
Yes. In accordance with official policy, you remain a degree candidate until the next commencement (in December), when your degree will be conferred. If you have already graduated, you are not able to participate.
I have my candidacy meeting scheduled after the September registration deadline. Can I still participate?
Yes, as long as your D3 form is turned in to the Office of Graduate Studies no later than 5 PM on the deadline.
I have plenty of research data, but I have not yet reached candidacy (i.e. no D3 has been filed). Will I be able to participate?
No. To participate, you must be a degree candidate (with a D3 form on file) by the deadline.
Are international doctoral candidates eligible? What if English is not my native language?
Yes, international students at Mizzou who are degree candidates in research-based graduate degree programs are eligible. The three minute presentation must be made in English.
Can master’s students who are pursuing research-based degrees participate?
No. However, due to popular demand by students, we hope to create a Master’s Division in the future.
Why do I need my advisor’s signature on the Consent Form?
In some disciplines, research findings must be embargoed until the study is published. This is especially true of students working in classified labs. We need to make certain that your advisor is aware, and approves, of your participation in this event.
What is the dress code?
Dress is either business casual or business attire. No jeans, please! Here’s why: Mizzou 3MT® is a key professional development event for research-based degree candidates. Because of the significance, it is most appropriate for participants to dress as a professional – no different than attending a disciplinary conference or job interview. Another consideration: professional attire can potentially enhance your stage presence, especially because all of our judges are professionals too.
If cost for professional attire is prohibitive, Truman’s Closet is service for Mizzou students who wish to borrow business attire for special events and job interviews.
Do I have to use a slide as part of my presentation?
Yes, because the effectiveness of your visual is part of the judging criterion. Remember that the slide is static: No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. Also, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration. Deadline: Submit your slide as a pdf file to email@example.com by the published deadline. Note: If you move forward in the competition, you must use the same slide (i.e., you cannot modify your slide during the Mizzou competition.)
Do the judges “favor” presentations by STEM students over those in the social sciences or humanities?
Not at all! The competition is open to all research-based degree programs. The judges follow the official scoring criteria when making their decisions. No preference is given to one discipline over another.
Will you have separate rounds for life sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, etc.?
At Mizzou 3MT, everyone competes together. In the future, if the competition grows substantially, we may offer disciplinary preliminaries.
Why are people from higher education on the judging panel?
As you know, our intent with Mizzou 3MT is to select a winner who can best describe research to a lay (public) audience. Thus, we make every attempt to find people in the local community (outside of higher education) to serve as judges. This proved to be a challenge, so we also invited faculty and administrators from inside higher education to serve as judges. That said, all judges are volunteers (not paid) and they do their best to follow the scoring criteria. Be assured that they are committed to spirit and intent of the Mizzou 3MT competition.
Will I get to see the judges’ comments?
No, for several reasons. Foremost, Mizzou 3MT® is a professional development, public speaking program that culminates with a competition event. The training sessions (e.g., storytelling) we offer in the months prior to the event are designed for you to practice and receive constructive feedback in order to improve your public speaking skills. The second consideration is our volunteer judges, many of whom prefer to keep their comments confidential.
Remember that the results of any judged competition is based on subjective opinion. A 3 minute presentation that resonates with one judge may not appeal as much to second or third judge.
Tip: Please seek feedback on your slide, content, and presentation style before the competition. In the past, many of the finalists took advantage of the storytelling training and/or practice session. Their success proves it pays to practice!
Contestants in the Mizzou 3MT® 2016 competition.
From Left: Megan Sheridan, Jacqueline Gamboa Varela and Dr. Michael K. Fink
See those Wrinkles? Blame your DNA!
That was the message delivered by the 2016 Mizzou 3 Minute Thesis winner Jacqueline Gamboa Varela, a doctoral candidate in Chemistry.
Second place was awarded to Dr. Michael K. Fink, a doctoral candidate in Area Pathobiology. Like other researchers in Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Fink is pursuing a PhD degree after earning his professional degree. His presentation was entitled Treating Blindness with a Virus: Targeted Gene Therapy in the Cornea. Dr. Rajiv R. Mohan is his mentor.
The audience voted Megan Sheridan as the People’s Choice Winner. Hailing from St. Louis, MO, Ms. Sheridan is a doctoral candidate in Biochemistry. Dr. R. Michael Roberts is her advisor. The title of her presentation was Pregnancy, the Placenta and the Zika Virus.
Other 3MT contestants:
Judges for the evening were Alejandra Gudino, a diversity coordinator with food and nutrition programs for University of Missouri Extension; Ronald B. Kelley, PhD, MU School of Journalism executive director of student development, diversity and inclusion; and Wally Pfeffer, Mutual of Omaha and Boone County Chapter of the Mizzou Alumni and Alumnae Association.
MC for the evening was Dr. Michael J. Porter, MU retired faculty in Communication.
Thirty doctoral candidates participated in the first annual Mizzou Three Minutes Thesis competition.
From two preliminary nights, 12 winners advanced to the semifinals: Nathaniel Graham, Madeline Miller, Surya Sapkota, Arianna Soldati, Tasia Taxis, Jessica M. Anderson, Lincoln Sheets, Sarah E. Smith, Page Quinton, Scott Askinosie, Sarah E. Lirley McCune, and Maria Jones.
The six who advanced to the finals were:
At the Mizzou 3MT® finals, which were held at 4 PM on October 24, first place went to Arianna Soldati; second place to Jessica M. Anderson and the People’s Choice, to Lincoln Sheets, MD. Each winner received a crystal 3MT® trophy and cash prizes as follows: First Place ($500); Second Place ($300) and People’s Choice ($200). The overall winner also becomes eligible to compete at other 3MT® competitions.
A video of Arianna at the Conference of Southern Office of Graduate Studiess and photos from all rounds of the 2015 competition at Mizzou can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Mizzou3MT
Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. The exercise challenges doctoral* candidates to present a compelling oration on their thesis (dissertation) topic and its significance in just three minutes.
3MT® develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
To view winning presentations from around the world, go to the 3MT® Showcase on the official UQ site.