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  • Writer's picturealicjapawluczuk

3 Minute Thesis Challenge ? I'm IN #NapRes17

Image you get 3 minutes to tell your PhD story. How would you make the most out of your 180 seconds? How would you make your story memorable to your audience? These were some of the questions I had to ask myself before participating 3 Minute Thesis challenge at Edinburgh Napier University.

Three minutes does not sound like much time to explain your entire research. How can you fit in everything in a such short amount of time? The answer is simple: you don’t.

The purpose of three minute thesis is to kind of ‘sell your research idea’. That is why you don’t get to describe you overall project. Instead, you are expected to provide a brief story or a plan, which allows your audience to understand your vision.

If you are lucky - they might also acknowledge that your research is important.

Before the competition, all participating students got a chance to get trained by a public speaking expert and comedian - Susan Morrison. The session provided me with a great opportunity to learn about the strict rules of the 3MT ( for example only one static slides was allowed) and to learn about some practical skills to become a better public speaker.

Among some of the helpful tips we were given by Suzan, here are the top three I remembered during my speech:

  1. Breathe in & out.

  2. Breathe in & out.

  3. Breathe in & out.

Although is sounds very easy, I often find it difficult to pay attention to your body while I’m anxious or excited. Since I’m very passionate about my research, I often get too excited when sharing my thoughts and ideas.

I often talk fast, I talk too much and what is the worst - I talk at you :\

With 3MT I knew I need to be more mindful about my performance. I decided that my speech would not resemble a sells pitch nor would it be a patronising call for social change. Instead, after the training session with Susan, I decided to create a short story with some funny elements.

In my presentation talked about the importance of youth voice in the discussion on the future digital media. I decided to use on of the most shocking headlines I came across so far, to discuss how young people are often misrepresented in the media. In my three minutes show, I advocated that the purpose of my project is to invite young people as co-researchers. Through my doctoral research project I would like to provide young digital citizens with tools and skills to investigate and share their point of view - and perhaps challenge this ‘digital heroin’ narrative.

3MT was a great experience. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone for a bit and test my skills as a public speaker (and an entertainer). I really enjoyed listening to other presentations - all of which were extremely interesting and engaging.

I would recommend 3MT to any PhD students. Particularly, when you feel like presenting isn’t your thing.

Challenging yourself can be very liberating sometimes - go for it and experience it for yourself. As they say, your comfort zone might kill you.

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