Three Minute Thesis Resources
How do I prepare for the competition?
Start preparing your presentation.
For the final presentation, you must use one PowerPoint slide with no moving images (that includes film and animated gifs). The official website has some additional tips for preparing. You may also want to consider the judging criteria when preparing your slides.
The three-minute rule is not flexible. Make sure you can do your presentation in the allotted time.
Tell everyone you know!
This is the first time BGSU is hosting this competition, and it is an exciting event.
Attend a Workshop!
The Three Minute Thesis competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Master's and doctoral students. Developed by The University of Queensland, the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills.
The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
The first 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 Research Higher Degree students competing. In 2009 and 2010, the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities, and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010.
Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased, and 3MT competitions are now held in over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide.
In November 2013, the first Universitas 21 (U21) 3MT competition was held with several universities from around the world competing in a virtual competition.
2016 brought an expansion of the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition to also include universities from the North-East and South-East Asia regions. This competition is now called the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition and is hosted annually by UQ.
The Graduate College will host its second annual Three Minute Thesis Competition at Bowling Green State University on Thursday, February 13, 2020. The event is free and open to the university community.
Prizes will be awarded to winners of the competition, as decided by the judges.
1st place: $300
2nd place: $200
3rd place: $100
People’s choice: $25
The winner of the BGSU competition will be eligible to compete in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' Three Minute Thesis competition.
Competitors must meet the following criteria
- Must be a current BGSU graduate student (part-time or full time) during Spring semester 2020. Alumni are not eligible.
- Have a significant amount of work completed on your thesis or dissertation. Official completion is not required.
- Official approval of thesis/dissertation topic and committee by the Graduate College. [See here for information regarding this process.]
- Must be able to appear in person for the competition on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
“Significant amount of work” should mean that you have completed a draft of several of your chapters and completed your data collection.
It is strongly recommended that you inform your committee chair that you plan on entering the competition.
You may submit a previously completed thesis or dissertation if: (1) It was completed through a BGSU graduate program, and (2) you are currently enrolled as a graduate student in a different department or degree program.
All those wishing to compete must complete the online registration form.
The priority deadline is Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Entries received after that date will be considered if space is available.
Your final PowerPoint slide deck is due to the Graduate College via email on February 11, 2020. Changes to the slide between then and the competition will be allowed at the discretion of the Graduate College.
There is no cost to the student to enter and/or compete.
- A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
- No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
- No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
- Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum, and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
- Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
- Presentations are to commence from the stage.
- Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
- The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
Write for your audience
- 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.
- Highlight the outcomes of your research, and the desired outcome.
- Imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow student from another field.
- Convey your excitement and enthusiasm for your subject.
Tell a story
- You may like to present your 3MT as a narrative, with a beginning, middle and 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 the attention of the audience, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.
Have a clear outcome in mind
- Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
- Try to leave the audience with an understanding of what you are doing, why it is important, and what you hope to achieve.
- Proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, to yourself and to an audience of friends and family.
- Ask for feedback.
- Ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is about and why it is important.
Before you start work on your slide, you should take the following rules into account:
- One 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.
You may like to consider some of the following suggestions.
- Less is more: Text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – You don’t want them to read your slide instead of listening to your 3MT.
- Personal touches: Personal touches can allow your audience to understand the impact of your research.
- Creativity drives interest: Do not rely on your slide to convey your message – It should simply complement your oration.
- Work 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?
- An engaging visual presentation can make or break any oration, so make sure your slide is legible, clear and concise.
Practice, practice, practice
- Feeling nervous before you present is natural, and 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. Practicing will also help you gauge the timing of your 3MT so that you keep within the time limit.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not make the common mistakes of rolling back and forth on your heels, pacing for no reason or playing with your hair as these habits are distracting for the audience.
- Record and listen to your presentation to hear where you pause, speak too quickly or get it just right.
- Then work on your weaknesses and exploit your strengths.
Look to the stars!
- Watch your role models such as academics, politicians and journalists, and break down their strengths and weaknesses.
- Analyze how they engage with their audience.
- View presentations by previous 3MT finalists.
- There is no dress code. If you are unsure of how to dress, you may like to dress for a job interview or an important meeting. It is important that you feel comfortable so you can focus on your presentation.
- If you are presenting on a stage that has a wooden floor, be aware of the noise your footwear might make.
- Do not wear a costume of any kind as this is against the rules (as is the use of props).
Comprehension and content
- Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
- Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
- Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
- Was the topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
- Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
Engagement and communication
- Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
- Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
- Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
- Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
- Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
- Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?
Fancy hearing an 80,000 word thesis explained in less than 180 seconds?
Research students from across the globe are doing just that in preparation for the Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®).
Established by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008, 3MT® is now held in at least 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide.
The Dean of UQ’s Graduate School, Professor Alastair McEwan, said 3MT® was designed to develop skills that will give students an important career advantage once they complete their studies.
3MT® provides a unique opportunity to profile and celebrate the innovative research conducted by postgraduate research candidates from around the world.
“It is a reality that many PhD students will need to communicate their ideas and results to people who may not necessarily have expertise in their field,” Professor McEwan said.
“3MT® develops the ability of students to communicate the significance and outcomes of their project in a short space of time.”
3MT is a competition that challenges research students to communicate the significance of their projects to a general audience in just three minutes.
3MT® contestants must condense their research into a brief, engaging presentation for a non-specialist audience, using a single presentation slide.
More information about 3MT® is available at
(please note these are for informational purposes and not officially related to the 3MT competition or BGSU.)