In 2017, Alex Smyth attended the University of Leicester’s 3 Minute Thesis competition. He offers a few thoughts on the event.
The University of Leicester holds two postgraduate showcase events, the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®) and the Festival of Postgraduate Research. This year I (Alex) decided to participate in the 3MT® Thesis competition, where a PhD student presents their entire PhD research in just 3 minutes, using one slide without any animations or videos or props, just simply text and pictures. This is presented in an auditorium to the judging panel and anyone who wishes to watch. The Manchester Arena Bombing occurred a week before I was presenting, meaning that not only was my presentation topical due to its post-blast identification nature, but also poignant due to the national mood after that atrocious event. This made it quite difficult to determine the right tone and language to use when presenting. The night before presenting I ran through my presentation multiple times, changing images and language, getting it as perfect as possible. That’s important, but I also knew that the presenting itself was fundamental to doing well in the competition. During INTREPID we have received fantastic training, including improving our presentations skills. It is this training that I use every time I present and that helped immensely in this competition, making sure I engaged with every member in the audience, making eye contact with as many people as possible, using expressive language and a natural tone, not too quick but not too slow. I felt pretty good after I’d finished, but knew there were some fantastic presentations so it did come as quite a shock when I was announced as runner up. It was a great experience and has helped me to be concise with abstract writing or the informal discussion of my research at conferences.
Meanwhile Francisco Goncalves participated in the Festival of Postgraduate Research, and discusses his experience below.
In a rainy week, the Postgrad Festival organisers were able to move all the materials that were supposed to be at the Charles Wilson Building to a new location. I don’t know how they did it so quickly, but on the day, everything was ready for students to present their work to a large audience of other students, university staff and (mostly) to the jurors. At this event, the main rules were that students couldn’t use anything else than their poster and themselves to present their work. Guidelines (or standards) were supposed to be associated with simple language [understandable to laypeople], engagement, and I may add, becoming the host of the situation. This last point reminds me of an INTREPID Forensics program workshop with VOX Coaching, where one of the sessions taught us how to become the host of a situation. Mainly you need to be comfortable, and assume that the situation is out of your control. So, you will ask people their name when you feel they will approach you, how are they, if they are enjoying the event, what is their field of work if it makes sense to ask. You will take care of them. See if they need something, make links, point out other things they might enjoy seeing or know at the event. I believe that was what I did. I tried my best to make people feel comfortable and enjoy the moment whilst they were around my work. I’ve also used some examples outside forensics in order to explain the main results I found, and this was extremely beneficial for people to understanding the outlines of my work in a very simple way. And in the end, fortunately, I was awarded two prizes which demonstrated that all of the skills I gained throughout my experience were valuable for events such as this one!