“Participating in 3MT was one of the most rewarding experiences of all of my graduate studies. I met incredible people, established long-lasting friendships and learnt so much. My first presentation was a disaster and I barely made it through the first round (really, its true). Being in front of an audience motivated me to work really hard on the content and delivery and by the end I was so proud with what I had achieved: namely, overcoming my fear of presenting and turning it into something that I am excited about. Bring on the next presentation!
If you take it seriously, the 3MT will make you into a compelling and confident presenter. It will provide you with the skills you need to synthesise your work and communicate it to a non-specialist audience. This is important because it teaches you to reconceptualise your own work and see it through the eyes of others. By asking yourself ‘why does my research matter and why should anyone care about it?’, you will think of new and creative ways of understanding and communicating your work.
There are so many reasons why YOU should enter 3MT: it is fun, you’ll meet great people, you’ll learn from others and you’ll improve your presentation skills. If you’re lucky, and if you’re really good – you need both – you might just win some prize money and enjoy the excitement and prestige of moving through the rounds to reach the 3MT finals. The further you go, the more exciting things get and the more that is at stake.
It’s fun and it’s terrifying but the latter will make you better, I promise. I went on to win the Western Regional 3MT Championship and competed in the Canadian national and international competitions. Doing so gave my work an incredible amount of coverage, not only on social media but with mainstream media too, and I made some really valuable connections. I was invited to do several local radio interviews and am in the process of making a podcast with a producer all the way from Australia. I now use the video recording of my 3MT as a neat little product to send to the media, potential publishers, future employers and friends and colleagues.
The work of graduate students is often invisible and even the good stuff rarely sees the light of day. 3MT provides a much-needed opportunity for graduate students to get their work out there, to connect with multiple and exciting publics, and to kick-start their careers with an impactful three-minute statement: ‘here is my research and this is why it matters!’ “
Craig Jones, Geography
3MT 2016 First Place and People’s Choice Winner
“I’ve always known that I’m passionate about my research, but 3MT really pushed me to verbalize its significance, trained me to boil everything down to its essence, and reminded me why I love my field in the first place. This may sound counterintuitive, but if you are a grad student doubting the value of your research, then you should definitely sign up for 3MT!
After 3MT, UBC became a lot bigger in my perception. In the past, I had only interacted with my department, my lab, and my residence. After 3MT, I was presented with opportunities to meet donors, Deans of other faculties, the Public Affairs Office, the Global Scholars Network, and even the President of UBC. I not only have a strong sense of belonging to my home department, but have also developed membership and leadership in the larger UBC community. Now I can proudly say that I truly understand the meaning of the punchline “I AM UBC”.
The media presence resulting from 3MT has allowed me to engage in social activism alongside my academic work. I was interviewed on local TV channels, radio programs, and even a podcast in Australia. The nature of impact that I can make through the mass media is very different from that of a journal. If you want to make a difference in the world by being the change that you want to see, you need to have a voice. Thanks to 3MT, my voice is being heard and is making a ripple.”
Zoe Wai-Man Lam, Linguistics
3MT 2015 First Place and People’s Choice Winner
“The 3MT competition is practice for life. It takes skill and practice to articulate your life’s work in 180 seconds, and it is a skill that every graduate student should hone. Every conference and academic meeting, every party and first date, and sometimes even grocery store lines have already served as your 3MT stage: now is your chance to perfect your talk. Like me, most grad students fumble through a ‘short and sweet’ narrative of their research in lay terms, always wondering if they’ve shared too much or too little, and hence become ‘that person’ at a party! 3MT will push you to think about how you frame your research to a lay audience, and will become a test of being both engaging and concise. This is your chance – push your limits, try your luck at the 3MT, and walk away with a thought-provoking ‘elevator pitch’ of your work that will serve you over the tenure of your program.
Since competing in the UBC’s 2015 3MT competition, I have gone on to share my research with community groups including the Tapestry Master Class Series, and the Child and Family Research Institute’s Mini Med School series.”
Kyly Whitfield, Human Nutrition
3MT 2015 Runner-up
“I participated in the 3MT in both 2012 and 2015, and it really helped me to look at my research from an outside point of view. When working on a PhD and communicating primarily with other like-minded researchers, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the details and forget the bigger picture. 3MT helped me to take a step back and learn to communicate the full story of my thesis, which has helped me when networking at conferences, presenting posters, and applying for scholarships. This kind of communication is crucial when meeting and working with researchers from other backgrounds.
I tend to be a bit shy and get very nervous when presenting, so 3MT pushed me out of my comfort zone to get experience presenting in front of different audiences. Because of these benefits alone I would encourage all graduate students to participate in 3MT, but 3MT also yielded other advantages: I received a lot of positive feedback about my research, which inspired me to succeed in my PhD work. 3MT also led to opportunities to meet other students and learn about their incredible research, present at the home of the President of UBC as well as to be a panelist and presenter at other events.”
Samantha Grist, Electrical and Computer Engineering
3MT 2015 Third Place
“I really enjoyed sharing my research with the UBC community, and hearing all the positive responses I got from people about my project. It got me talking to people in my department, and showcased my work and abilities. I was also invited to present at the MURC conference to UBC undergrads, which was lots of fun.
It’s really great to do 3MT as an exercise, because it forces you to break your project down to the basics of your question, and to think about why non-experts should care about the work that you do. I’d recommend that every grad student give it a try, and their supervisors too!”
Miranda Meents, Botany
3MT 2015 Finalist
3MT is an exceptional process to fine tune and learn new skills. We must push ourselves outside of our daily comfort zones in order to expand our experiences and learn to reach out and communicate about the amazing work that we do! Others need to know and the only way they will know is if you get out there and tell them!
By participating in 3MT, you learn to convey research to other disciplines, and to members of the public by delivering something that draws them in, helping them understand the impact and importance of the work.
As a result of my participation, I was able to present my 3MT to the Chair and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for Seniors. Conveying the importance of your work in a concise manner is imperative to getting a message across to individuals who have high impact but very little time.
Thea Franke, Interdisciplinary Studies
3MT 2015 Finalist
“The most valuable experience is to learn how to talk about your research in a simple but appealing manner. As graduate students, we may do a good job in technical presentations but not when it comes to an audience who are not specialized in our field. 3MT provides this unique opportunity to improve your communication skills. I was contacted by a British magazine after 3MT and asked for an interview about my research. My work was featured as ‘the next big thing to keep an eye on’.”
Payam Zachkani, Engineering-Mechanical
3MT 2014 Finalist
“I found that it is a good idea to participate in 3MT during my first term of Master study as it gave me a chance to think about what I want and how I can accomplish two years’ of learning. I had to consider the kind of research I propose to do, the appeal, and the value of my research. I would recommend 3MT to every graduate student to help practice their communication skills.”
Kunqian (Polo) Zhang, Forestry
3MT 2014 Semi-Finalist
“Preparing for and participating in the 3MT competition was an incredible chance to develop my presentation skills and my research ‘pitch’. I had the opportunity to think very carefully about the ‘big picture’ aspect of my research. Through practicing my presentation with people of diverse educational backgrounds, I learned how people received the information I was offering, which terminology was not understood by a broad audience, and which points people found interesting or not. Considering those who review manuscripts or applications for funding are often non-specialized, it gave me a great perspective on how to approach manuscript writing and project proposals. In addition, I now have a 3 minute video about my research that I can send to potential study participants and funding bodies alike. This is an incredible opportunity for self-reflection, learning and growth. You will never have an opportunity like this anywhere else to practice such a honed presentation.”
Erin Macri, Experimental Medicine
3MT 2014 Runner-Up and People’s Choice Winner
“This competition is a MUST for all graduate students at UBC. When I joined the competition, my aim was simple: to win $1000. Throughout the process, what I gained is worth way more than the monetary reward. This competition pushed me out of my comfort zone enabling me to articulate my ideas, enthusiasm and passion to a wide audience. My participation has led to many other opportunities such as presentations at the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference, with the alumni of UBC, at a summer barbecue with UBC President Stephen Toope and donors, as well as a special talk in the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre’s annual meeting. Feedback from the audience – particularly other students, researchers and patients – really inspired me to confidently pursue my PhD with enthusiasm and optimism. These opportunities not only bolstered my confidence, but they also enabled me to expand my social and professional networks. I strongly encourage every graduate student to participate!!!
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” (Yoda)
Sun-Nee Tan, Neuroscience
3MT 2013 People’s Choice Winner
“By participating in 3MT, I gained a refreshing dose of research motivation. Writing my 3MT provided the opportunity to stop and clearly articulate what I wanted to contribute to research and why. 3MT is also an opportunity to share your research in a way that captivates everyone in your life, from academic supervisors and peers to your grandparents or the person sitting next to you on the bus. Through 3MT, I gained a magnitude more confidence in speaking and sharing my research with others. Each time I presented my 3MT I was more excited and more comfortable presenting it to the audience.”
Natalie Sopinka, Forestry
3MT 2012 Winner
“I am so glad I chose to participate in this event; it’s helped me and my research in more ways than I could have anticipated.”
Heather Bliss, Linguistics
3MT 2012 Semi-Finalist
“I am a big believer in, and supporter of the 3MT program. It was a great experience for me, and I think it’s a great addition to academic life at UBC. The competition provided several benefits: 1) the opportunity to meet grad students from other disciplines and to learn about their fascinating research; 2) the challenge of boiling down my own research project into 3 minutes, which helped clarify my own thinking; and 3) the chance to get great presentation feedback and learn some tips from other presenters. I would do 3MT again in a heartbeat!”
Andrew Pilliar, Law
3MT 2012 Finalist
“3MT was a great experience, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who was interested in doing it. It makes you really think about why your work is important, and how to teach other people about it most effectively. It also helps you hone your speaking skills and gives you a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t in a presentation. However, the #1 thing that blew me away about this competition was not getting better at presenting my own material; it was hearing everyone else’s. The breadth and depth of research going on in our university is just staggering. As researchers it is all too easy to fall into the trap of getting lost in our own little bubble of specialization, and the 3MT is a great way to hear concise, amazing stories from all sorts of different fields of study.”
Fergil Mills, Neuroscience
3MT 2012 Runner-up
Watch Ryan Andrew Murphy, 3MT 2011 Finalist, Faculty of Education, talk about his research and his experience in 3MT here: http://youtu.be/CcrmmTn7Lh4