Research that you do interests a wider range of people than those who read research journals. - David Lindsay
In a world of short attention span, three-minute thesis (3-MT) is one way of communicating science. Scientists are expected to share their cutting-edge research into a three minutes long talk in plain language so that everyone can understand. This may seem trivial, yet preparing a 3-MT can be a journey to think and reflect on the essence of our work.
At our School (BEES), doing a 3-MT talk is compulsory for every third-year PhD student. I used to think this is as a joke. Most of us have come up with sophisticated analysis and exciting findings to share on the third year, and the School only gives us 3 minutes?!? But I was wrong! Spending a lot of time studying some niche-topics within our discipline could turn us into a 'caveman'. We may have no idea how some concepts that seem intuitive for us can make someone's forehead furrowed.
While some scientists are naturally good at sharing their research to their high-school mates at a local pub, most of us need some considerable preparation. Plus, in this unprecedented time, we have to deliver the talk virtually. Giving a 3-MT talk online may not be as exciting as standing in front of crowds, I believe there are several things we can do to spice up the talk. Here is the short-list I've gathered so far:
- Prepare a video-audio script (as many film students do!)
- Identify the highlight of your research.
- Tell the audience how you did it!
- Plan a storyline; identify the at the hook at the beginning, maybe a joke in the middle, and a punchline at the end.
- Identify uncommon words/jargons and replace them with layman's terms whenever possible.
- Clear pronunciation has never been this important. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
- Adjust your microphone (adjust the freq/pitch), and do a test video call.
- Speak like you are in a real conversation. Humans can read better than SIRI!
- Be comic sans' ish only when you do it by purpose, otherwise, your slides are ugly.
- Sync your slide with the spoken narration
- Cut down texts, images/animation should be self-explanatory.
- Maintain eye contact makes the conversation a bit more natural.
- Body language remains (e.g. posture and gestures)
- Position your camera accordingly, adjust the lighting and the background (again, a test call with friends/colleague can be helpful).
*The utmost important aspect IMHO; **Turned out to be unimportant for the judges in the previous 3-MT Aug 12, 2020.
PS: I don't claim any of the point listed above as mine. I've collected these wise suggestions from random chats with friends and colleagues, as well as tips from the judges. All of the suggestions, of course, are subject to criticism.