Tips for success

Ideas to help you prepare the best 3 minute presentation you can.

Important considerations

  • Hooks – get us excited about what you are doing as quickly as possible with a hook. A hook is something that builds intrigue, suspense or raises a question in the audiences mind.
  • Body Language – think about how you are going to stand and deliver your talk. Your body language is important, don’t over gesticulate, but don’t be too stiff…practicing in front of people will help.
  • Tone of Voice – even a 3 minute presentation will seem dull if delivered in a monotone. Remember to show us your enthusiasm.
  • Practice – it is so important we can’t say it enough!

Writing your 3MT

1. Write for your audience

One of the judging criteria looks for evidence that you can explain your research to a non-specialist audience. To do this you may like to:

  • 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;
  • imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow student from another field; and
  • don’t dumb down or devalue your research, what you are doing is exciting and you should convey enthusiasm for your subject.

2. Have a clear outcome in mind

Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Ideally, you would like the audience to leave with an understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

3. Tell a story

You may like to present your 3MT like a story, with a beginning, middle and an 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 their attention, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.

4. 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 humour, however be careful not to dumb down your presentation.

5. Revise

You may like to proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, firstly to yourself and then to an audience of friends and family. This allows you to not only check your grammar and writing style, but it will allow you to receive critical feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is and why it is important.

6. Your Supervisor

Ask your supervisor or other colleagues in your field to review the content of your presentation.

Creating your 3MT slide

Before you start work on your slide, you should take the following rules into account:

  • a single static PowerPoint slide is permitted;
  • no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are permitted;
  • your slide is to be presented from the beginning of your oration; and
  • no additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.

An engaging visual presentation can make or break any oration, so you want your slide to be legible, clear and concise.

Less is More

Text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – you don’t want them to read your slide rather than listen to your 3MT.

Personal Touches

Personal touches can allow your audience to understand the impact of your research

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?

Practicing your 3MT presentation

The following tips may be useful as you prepare your 3MT oration.

1. Practice, practice, practice

Feeling nervous before you present is natural, and sometimes a little nervousness can even be beneficial to your overall speech. Nonetheless, it is important to practice so you can present with confidence and clarity.

2. Vocal range

  • Speak clearly and use variety in your voice (fast/slow, loud/soft).
  • Do not rush - find your rhythm.
  • Remember to pause at key points as it gives the audience time to think about what you are saying.

3. Body language

  • Stand straight and confidently.
  • Hold your head up and make eye contact.
  • Never turn your back to the audience.
  • Practice how you will use your hands and move around the stage. It is okay to move around energetically if that is your personality, however it is also appropriate for a 3MT presentation to be delivered from a single spot on stage.

4. Length of your presentation

The length of your presentation is very clear – no more than 3 minutes!  However as your presentation approaches the end of the 3 minutes, the audience may be more focused on watching the countdown clock in case you run over, rather than listening to your presentation. Consider aiming to finish your presentation at the 2 minute 50 second point to keep everyone’s nerves at bay!




You may also want to see how previous winners have delivered their presentations. The simplest way to do this is to visit YouTube and search for “3 Minute Thesis” or “3MT”