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3MT: Fame, Fortune and Fun! Part I

 

Panda 3MT

Panda B. Ear delivers his 3MT on Eudaimonia: A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature of the Good Life for Ailuropoda melanoleuca

I have entered the 3MT twice in my long and varied career as a PhD candidate.  The first time I simply wanted to see what this thing was all about. The second time was because the then Doctoral and Scholarships Manager, Chris Stoddart sent me a charming but slightly <hugely> guilt-inducing email asking <pressuring> me to consider entering again.  Charm and guilt have always worked on me, so I gave it another go.

In what can best be described as the most heinous miscarriages of justice in the history of miscarriages of justice, I totally lost. Both times!  What the?

Despite this dreadful oversight by the judges*, I’m not here to tell you to flag the 3MT!

The 3MT has a bunch of positive spin-offs in terms of raising your research profile, distilling and clarifying your thinking, and fostering communication skills.  But even more importantly it is a chance to have fun!

But don’t take my word for it, after all I’m selling this gig nowadays.  We asked Daniel Wee (PhD Candidate, Philosophy) and Shobhit Eusebius, (PhD Candidate, Marketing) the hard questions about what it was like to participate in the 3MT.

How many times have you entered the 3MT competition?

Shobhit: Once in 2013.

Daniel: 2013 was the first time I entered the 3MT competition. I was quite fortunate to go as far as I did that year! <such modesty; he won, he won!!>

What (or who!) sparked your interest in entering?

Shobhit: A YouTube video of the finals of a previous 3 MT competition was my introduction to the Post-Graduate culture at Otago. This was in 2011 when I was still in the early stage of trying to decide which University I wanted to study at. While searching for information about the University of Otago I came across this video by chance. I was immensely impressed by the talent on display, and also the variety of graduate research that was showcased. I have always been interested in public speaking so I was inspired by what I saw, and aspired to be able to compete at that level .  Once I moved to Dunedin I met, and became friends with Dr. Andrew Filmer a previous 3MT champion, and Otago graduate. I found his personality, and success inspirational, and this further reinforced my ambition to compete in the 3MT.

Daniel: Before the competition I had family and friends regularly asking me what my thesis was about, and I never had a satisfying explanation to give them. They either thought that my thesis had something to do with particular languages, or that it involved conducting experiments on whether children raised away from society could speak! So I thought entering the 3MT would be a motivation to come up with a decent explanation in case I was asked again. I can say it definitely helped!

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

Shobhit: The thrill of competing with some of the most talented Post-Graduates from all across the University delivers an adrenaline rush that is unmatched. The level of competition is so high that even though I didn’t end up winning in the finals I learned a lot from the experience of participating. It is also a marquee event for Post-Graduates at the university so it is an immense confidence booster to feature in it.

The fact that you have only 3 minutes also made me think about my research in a whole new way. Turning lengthy theoretical arguments into succinct single line sentences is an intellectually exhilarating exercise, and also helps you highlight new research ideas or even loopholes in your own work.

Daniel: It was just enjoyable to know that people could understand and appreciate what my research is about. Some people have the misconception that philosophy is inherently inaccessible to the lay person and I like to think that I helped a bit to dispel that idea.

What pearls of wisdom would you provide to anyone interested in entering?

Shobhit: Prepare and practice as much as you can. At the same time remember to have fun; nobody wants to listen to a speaker who is stressed out. Keep it simple, and remember to focus on the “Wow!” factor of your research. Yes, your research does have a “Wow!” factor otherwise you won’t be here at the University of Otago . You just need to look for it, and participating in the 3MT is an excellent way of doing that.

Daniel: My advice would be to practice your speech with people outside your field who can give you honest feedback. I have the benefit of living in a postgraduate community at Abbey College and those of us who were competing in the 3MT that year organised a night when we delivered our speeches to about twenty other postgraduates from various disciplines. The feedback we got was invaluable and made us more confident on competition day.

re we going to be able to persuade you to enter again?  (I really hope so, you were so good last time!)

Shobhit: I’ll be back! 😀

Last, but certainly not least, would you prefer to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Shobhit: Mmmm, Peking Duck on rice…. Nom nom nom 😛

Daniel:  From my experience at the Dunedin botanical garden, ducks are easily distracted by breadcrumbs so I think I would prefer fighting a horse sized duck as long as I have some bread at hand!

Anything further you’d like to add?

Shobhit: BAZINGA !!

Daniel: Good luck to this year’s competitors!

Thanks, Daniel and Shobhit!

So, if you’re not here to communicate your research to a wider audience, make sure you stay inside your offices and labs and ignore this opportunity to meet fellow students and learn key skills that will set you in good stead for the rest of your careers.

If you believe fun is the enemy of graduate research then please avoid this opportunity to have a massive amount of fun.  After all, you could use that three minutes to drastically improve your H-index, to seal that post-doc or to impress your examiner into offering you your own personal chair.

However, if you aren’t three minutes away from securing a Nobel Prize, then take the opportunity to think creatively about your research and have a blast doing it!

The entries are now open for the 3MT for Master’s thesis and Doctoral Candidates.  Stay tuned for next week’s post outlining the details on our workshop on Communicating Clearly: the 3MT and Beyond as well as tips from previous judges and more information about the rules and the way the Heats and Finals work and how to nobble your competitors.

I want to enter the 3MT and compete in:

AUCKLAND
WELLINGTON
CHRISTCHURCH
DUNEDIN

* To be fair, this was no oversight; I sucked both times.  But I had a load of fun doing it!

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School 

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