June 23, 2023, by Lisa Chin

Taking up the ultimate challenge of research communication

This 3-minute read blog post skips the lengthy texts to highlight only the crucial points with absolute clarity. 

Chen Hui Ling, winner of the 2022 University of Nottingham Malaysia 3MT® and the 2022 University of Nottingham Tri-Campus 3MT® who went on and represented the entire Nottingham network at the U21 3MT® 2022 competition, writes about her experience taking part in the competition.

In this blog post, she shares about challenging herself to explain her research in just under 3 minutes and most importantly, make people understand it. She also shares some advice and tips for those of you who are interested to take part in the competition.

When I joined the 3MT, I only had one goal in mind, and that was to keep my speech within 3 minutes. Personally, I love presenting my research, but I have always done so for an hour or 2, sometimes even 3 hours. I certainly have not tried giving a 3-minute speech. That was why I agreed to join this competition. I remember quite clearly when my supervisor texted me and asked me to take part in this competition, as he knew that I loved talking about my research. We even joked about how I would be a thousand Ringgit richer if I win the competition. The 3-minute part really made me hesitate, but I decided to accept the challenge and participate anyway. As you could probably tell, I am really happy with the outcome.

If you are thinking to join the 3MT, I would strongly suggest that you watch a few YouTube videos to get started with. I remember watching at least 10 videos before I started writing my script. It helps with storytelling and also helps you brainstorm catchy words to use in your script. Write down the little things that caught your attention, and think to yourself “Why did it catch my attention?”.

Another tip is to use terms that are easily understandable. For example, my research focuses on microplastic loads, how microplastics are affected by hydrological controls and the ecological impacts of microplastics. To put them into simpler terms, I used the words “number of plastics”, “river speed” and “cancer” to explain my research. Try your best to relate your research to the audience. Telling the audience about microplastics in rivers might not be of interest to the audience, but telling them that microplastics that originate from their tea bags may cause cancer in the long run might spark some interest.

The final tip is of course, to practise. I practised in front of a mirror so that I could get my gestures, facial expressions and tone right. After you have memorised your script and gestures, you can try recording yourself. This is especially helpful for you to catch minor things that you would like to tweak. Keep a timer in front of you and try to practise such that you know which sentence you should be at when the timer hits the 1 or 2 minute mark. This way, you can be confident that you’ll finish right on time.

I hope you’ll find these tips helpful. All the best, you got this!

We hope you find this post helpful if you are preparing to take part in the competition this year.

You can watch Hui Ling’s winning presentation, along with all our past winners on our 3MT® webpage. Watch now

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