Zahra Jaffer

Zahra was a finalist in the 2020 competition

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

My 3 top tips are:

  1. Create a script of your presentation and memorise it. Draft the script how you intend to say it and add stage directions, e.g., pause here for ‘x’ seconds or highlight which words you need to emphasise in your speech. Keep your script short to allow a good pace and incorporate strategic pauses.
  2. Get feedback on your presentation before the competition. The Peer Practice Training Session offered by the IAD is incredibly helpful for this.
  3. Embrace your creative side and have fun!


  1. How has 3 Minute Thesis benefited you?

Taking part in the 3MT competition benefitted me in 3 ways:

  1. Research dissemination and increased research visibility: I got to share my work with persons within and outside my field of research.
  2. Heightened clarity on my research: I refer to my presentation to this day when thinking about my research and use it to draft my thesis lay summary.
  3. Succinctly conveying my research: I have a clear and concise answer to the often-asked question ‘so what is your PhD about’.


  1. What was the most challenging thing about 3MT?

The editing process: I had to ensure that I was optimally balancing describing my research in a coherent and clear manner with delivering a well-paced presentation within the strict three-minutes. It took a few attempts to get both the script and delivery on point.


  1. How have you used the skills gained in the competition?

Improving my presentation prowess: I have used the skills gained to deliver stronger presentations by thinking very carefully and creatively about what I put on my presentation slides and about how to present complex ideas in an easy to digest manner. The skill to pin down key messages from such a massive project is also handy for writing abstracts and to write more effectively.


  1. Why would you recommend 3MT to other doctoral students?

In addition to the benefits I list above, I would recommend the 3MT competition for 3 reasons:

  1. It is a fun challenge and a unique experience.
  2. It provides you with helpful tools to become a stronger presenter moving forward.
  3. It is a valuable addition to your CV.