Julia Smith

Julia was a finalist in the 2021 competition

Do you have any top tips for preparing for the competition?   

What did you find, and why should we care? Once I had the answers to these two questions, I could focus much more on what I needed to include in the script. Talking to people outside your field is also really important: it’s easy to speak to other people in your field about your work, but explaining it to someone without that contextual knowledge will help you to figure out how to ‘pitch’ your research in terms of the amount of detail you need, and the language you use to talk about it.  


How has 3 Minute Thesis benefited you?   

I wrote my 3MT script at the same time I was writing the first draft of my conclusion, and they both fed into each other. Distilling the core findings of my research, and why they are important, was immensely beneficial in helping me to shape the main arguments in my conclusion. It also made me a lot more confident in talking about my research both to specialists and non-specialists alike.  


What was the most challenging thing about 3MT?   

Filming it! The 2021 competition was entirely online, and filming a three-minute segment took me about eight hours. The hardest part of this was getting through the whole three minutes fluently without making any mistakes, so practising this for an in-person competition would also probably be quite difficult and time-consuming.  


How have you used the skills gained in the competition?   

I have used the presentation skills a lot in conferences. Speaking about your work to an audience is such an important part of academic life, both during your PhD and beyond. I also learned a lot of tips about presentation and public speaking that will help in job interviews.  


Why would you recommend 3MT to other doctoral students?   

The competition will help you during your studies, by making you think about how you frame your research, and the broader significance of your findings. The skills you learn by participating in this competition will also be invaluable when it comes to presenting at conferences or interviews. And it’s fun! I learned so much about research in fields that I knew absolutely nothing about, and would never have had the opportunity to learn about in any other part of my PhD.