2021 Mizzou 3MT® Competition is scheduled for October 21 and will be an in-person event*
Registration will close on October 7
*We will adhere to current campus, local, state, and national guidelines and will adjust if necessary
Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an international research communication competition, designed to help students improve public speaking skills with public audiences. At Mizzou, 3MT® is also a professional development program that includes training (storytelling workshop), practice sessions with feedback, and a public speaking competition.
The rules for the fall 3MT® competition are simple:
2021 Important Dates
September 8 Info Session, 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. in room 2206A of the MU Student Center
September 17 Info Session, 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. on Zoom
September 22 Info Session, 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. on Zoom
October 7; Registration deadline! All participants must be registered by 5:00pm on this date
Week of October 11: Required orientation for registered participants; times to be communicated
October 15; Optional Storytelling Workshop from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Zoom
October 18, 19, 20; (various time blocks available); Optional Practice Session, with feedback, times to be communicated
October 21; Mizzou 3MT® Competition!
The overarching aim of Mizzou 3MT® is for graduate students to acquire effective public speaking skills.
This professional development program includes storytelling training; presentation seminars; practice sessions with feedback; individual consultation with feedback; and a fall public speaking competition, Mizzou 3MT®.
A student who fully participates in the program will be able to:
Reaping the Benefits of Public Speaking
Conquering your fear of public speaking – and honing your talent – will set you apart on the job market: Multiple surveys have shown that verbal communication skills are in high demand by employers across job sectors.
Once you develop the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, you will be able to apply the skill during job interviews, conference presentations, classroom instruction, or pitching your innovation to potential investors.
Official 3MT® Eligibility
According to the official 3MT® rules at the University of Queensland, “Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone ([i.e., comprehensive exams;] including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels… Graduates are not eligible.”
Mizzou’s 3MT® competition is open to all PhD candidates in research-based degree programs who:
Those who have successfully defended during the fall semester may still participate in 3MT, as Mizzou graduate degrees are not conferred until December commencement. Those who have have graduated are not eligible.
You MUST be available for orientation, and all competition rounds (based on the number of participants, it may be necessary to hold preliminary rounds, semifinals, and finals). If selected as one of the Mizzou’s 3MT® winners, competitors must also agree to (a) further professional development to hone presentation skills and (b) participate in a regional 3MT® competition at the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) in Spring 2022. Travel expenses will be paid for by the University.
The presentation must be made in English.
*Additional rules for Mizzou’s 3MT® contest: When the planning committee notifies you of your presentation time (about a week before the competition), you must re-confirm your participation AND submit your single slide for the competition. Failure to confirm or submit your slide by the deadline will result in disqualification.
The Mizzou 3MT competition rounds will be held in a campus auditorium. Depending on the location we are able to reserve, you may be presenting from a stage, but without a podium. Your one slide will appear on a screen behind you. There are no microphones, so be prepared to speak loudly so that you can be heard and understood clearly.
The number of contestants will dictate the number and type of rounds we hold. It is possible to have preliminary rounds, a semi-final round, and a 3MT final round.
We recommend professional or business attire. No jeans. Truman’s Closet is service for Mizzou students who wish to borrow business attire for special events and job interviews free of charge.
At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on two judging criteria. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.
Criterion 1: Comprehension & Content
Criterion 2: Engagement & Communication
3MT® competitions help doctoral candidates fine-tune their public presentation skills with a long term goal of improving public scientific literacy. Toward this goal, competitors are required to present their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist (lay) audience. Therefore, the Mizzou 3MT planners have invited people from a variety of backgrounds to judge the competition.
First, understand the two official judging criteria because this is how your Mizzou 3MT® presentation will be scored by the judges.
Strategy: When you practice your presentation in front of family, friends, faculty, or research colleagues, give them a copy of the judging criteria. Ask them to rate your presentation. They should be able to respond to every question with a “yes.” Of utmost importance: Your ability to explain your research without technical terms and jargon.
Second, your slide must be engaging. It should enhance, not detract, from your educational message. Images should be top quality.
Strategy: Ask your mentor, colleagues, and family to critique your slide. Do they respond favorably to the image(s)? Is any part of the slide confusing or difficult to see? Do they believe your slide enhances your public education message?
Third, in a 3MT® competition, what you say will be important, but how you deliver your message will be the key to winning.
Strategy: Critique several research-related presentations designed for public audiences. Identify what makes certain public speakers more effective than others, then practice those skills. As you watch and listen, ask these questions:
Simon Clews from University of Melbourne: Making the most of your three minutes.
Danielle Fisher from UCSD 10 Hints for Improving Presentations for the Three Minute Thesis Competition
Dr. Inger Mewburn from ANU: “How to win the 3 minute thesis”
UQ GradSchool: 3MT Student Handbook see pp. 9 & 10
Flinders University: Hot tips for students
See information at the top of the page for: Information Sessions, Storytelling Seminar, Orientation and Practice Sessions, and more
Are all degree candidates eligible?
To be eligible, you must be actively pursing a research-based doctoral (PhD) degree. Master’s students are not eligible. For this current competition, you must have your or D3 (doctoral) form and advisor consent form on file by the stated deadline.
What is the D3 Form?
These are forms that officially document you have reached candidacy status toward earning a degree. Once you have passed comprehensive examinations, the D3 must be filed with the Graduate School. Check with your degree program office for more information.
I’ve already defended. Am I still eligible to participate?
Yes. In accordance with official policy, you remain a degree candidate until the next commencement (in December), when your degree will be conferred. If you have already graduated, you are not able to participate.
I have my candidacy meeting scheduled after the registration deadline. Can I still participate?
Yes, as long as your D3 form is turned in to the Graduate School no later than 5 PM on the deadline.
I have plenty of research data, but I have not yet reached candidacy (i.e. no D3 has been filed). Will I be able to participate?
No. To participate, you must be a degree candidate (with a D3 form on file) by the deadline.
Are international doctoral candidates eligible? What if English is not my native language?
Yes, international students at Mizzou who are degree candidates in research-based graduate degree programs are eligible. The three minute presentation must be made in English.
Can master’s students who are pursuing research-based degrees participate?
No. However, due to popular demand by students, we hope to create a Master’s Division in the future.
Why do I need my advisor’s signature on the Consent Form?
In some disciplines, research findings must be embargoed until the study is published. This is especially true of students working in classified labs. We need to make certain that your advisor is aware, and approves, of your participation in this event.
What is the dress code?
Dress is either business casual or business attire. No jeans, please! Here’s why: Mizzou 3MT® is a key professional development event for research-based degree candidates. Because of the significance, it is most appropriate for participants to dress as a professional – no different than attending a disciplinary conference or job interview. Another consideration: professional attire can potentially enhance your stage presence, especially because all of our judges are professionals too.
If cost for professional attire is prohibitive, Truman’s Closet is service for Mizzou students who wish to borrow business attire for special events and job interviews.
Do I have to use a slide as part of my presentation?
Yes, because the effectiveness of your visual is part of the judging criterion. Remember that the slide is static: No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. Also, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration. Deadline: Submit your slide as a pdf file to firstname.lastname@example.org by the published deadline. Note: If you move forward in the competition, you must use the same slide (i.e., you cannot modify your slide during the Mizzou competition.)
Do the judges “favor” presentations by STEM students over those in the social sciences or humanities?
Not at all! The competition is open to all research-based degree programs. The judges follow the official scoring criteria when making their decisions. No preference is given to one discipline over another.
Will you have separate rounds for life sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, etc.?
At Mizzou 3MT, everyone competes together. In the future, if the competition grows substantially, we may offer disciplinary preliminaries.
Why are people from higher education on the judging panel?
As you know, our intent with Mizzou 3MT is to select a winner who can best describe research to a lay (public) audience. Thus, we make every attempt to find people in the local community (outside of higher education) to serve as judges. This proved to be a challenge, so we also invited faculty and administrators from inside higher education to serve as judges. That said, all judges are volunteers (not paid) and they do their best to follow the scoring criteria. Be assured that they are committed to spirit and intent of the Mizzou 3MT competition.
Will I get to see the judges’ comments?
No, for several reasons. Foremost, Mizzou 3MT® is a professional development, public speaking program that culminates with a competition event. The training sessions (e.g., storytelling) we offer in the months prior to the event are designed for you to practice and receive constructive feedback in order to improve your public speaking skills. The second consideration is our volunteer judges, many of whom prefer to keep their comments confidential.
Remember that the results of any judged competition is based on subjective opinion. A 3 minute presentation that resonates with one judge may not appeal as much to second or third judge.
Tip: Please seek feedback on your slide, content, and presentation style before the competition. In the past, many of the finalists took advantage of the storytelling training and/or practice session. Their success proves it pays to practice!
Amir Mofrad (left); Clarissa Steele (center); Majid Mufaqam Syed Abdul (right)
Majid Abdul’s speech, titled Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Role of Sugars, earned him the first place title in Mizzou’s 2019 3 Minute Thesis Competition. Majid is a doctoral candidate in the Nutrition Sciences program. Clarissa Steele, doctoral candidate in Management, came in second place with her speech titled Taking Care of Business. Amir Mofrad, doctoral candidate in Chemical Engineering won the People’s Choice Award with his speech titled Exploring Computational Materials Science.
Other 3MT Contestants:
Judges for the evening were: Dr. Gavin King, Associate Professor, Physics and Biochemistry; Dr. Susan Renoe, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research, Extension, & Engagement; Eric Stann, Research News Strategist, MU News Bureau
Emcees for the evening were Kasey Lynch & Blake Willoughby, Theatre.
Electrical Nerve Stimulation: Improving Voice after Injury was the title Megan Haney chose to introduce her speech, which earned her the title of 2018 Mizzou 3 Minute Thesis winner. Megan was a doctoral candidate in Pathobiology Area Program. Second place winner was Clarissa Steele, Business Administration. Audience members voted Li Lee from Biomedical Imaging the People’s Choice winner.
Other 3MT contestants:
Ghazwan Alwan, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Michael, Appenteng, Chemistry
Glenn Baker, Psychological Sciences
Josh Bramlett, Communication
Mary Decker, Special Education
Megan Haney, Area Pathobiology
Briana Kille, Psychological Sciences
Li Lee, Biomedical Imagine
Tareq Lehmidi, Pathobiology Area
Rayne Lim, Biomedical Sciences
Deanna Maynard, Special Education
Aditi Mishra, Biological Sciences
Marco Navarro, Biological Sciences
Tunde Ojewola, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources
Joel Reed, Communication
Clarissa Steele, Business Administration
Anna Valiavska, Organizational Communication
Sangkwon Woo, Anthropology
Nasibeh, Zanjirani Farahani, Industrial Engineering & Manufacturing Systems
Judges for the evening were Dr. Jeni Hart, Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice Provost for Advanced Studies; Dr. Susan Renoe, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research, Extension, and Engagement; and Dr. Sheila Grant, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and Strategic Initiatives.
Emcees for the evening were Kate Busselle and Blake Willoughby, Theatre
Can You Avoid a Colonoscopy? Using Bacteria to Detect and Treat Colon Cancer
That was the message delivered by the 2017 Mizzou 3 Minute Thesis winner Susheel Bhanu Busi, a doctoral candidate in Molecular Pathogenesis and Therapeutics. Audience members also voted Susheel as the People’s Choice winner! Second place was awarded to Freddie Jennings, a doctoral candidate in Communication.
Other 3MT contestants:
Judges for the evening were Provost Garnett Stokes; Dr. Jeni Hart, Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice Provost for Advanced Studies; and Dr. Keven McDonald, UM System Chief Diversity Officer & MU Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.
MC for the evening was Rachel Bauer, doctoral candidate in Theatre.
First place winner was Jacqueline Gamboa (middle); second place Dr. Michael K. Fink (right), and People’s Choice Megan Sheridan (left).
Thirty doctoral candidates participated in the first annual Mizzou Three Minutes Thesis competition. First place winner was Arianna Soldati (middle); second place Jessica M. Anderson (right) and People’s Choice Lincoln Sheets, MD (left).
Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. The exercise challenges doctoral* candidates to present a compelling oration on their thesis (dissertation) topic and its significance in just three minutes.
3MT® develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
To view winning presentations from around the world, go to the 3MT® Showcase on the official UQ site.