The idea for the 3MT competition came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the University of Qeensland Graduate School, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT competition was born: to challenge grad students to describe their research in under three minutes to a general audience.

The first 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010. Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 600 universities and institutions across 59 countries worldwide.

CU Boulder's 3MT schedule is as follows: 

  • Phase 1: 3MT Applicants will be scheduled to present their 3MT presentation to a Campus Selection Committee in earlly November.  The Committee will select 10 students to advance to Phase 2.
  • Phase 2: Students will publicly present their three-minute oral presentation in a campus-wide event in late January. A committee of judges from the university and the community will select one first-place winner and one runner-up. The audience choice award will be selected on-site via a live audience vote.  The first-place winner will advance to Step 3.
  • Phase 3: The first-place winner of the CU Boulder competition will represent the university at the Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS) competition in March.  The Graduate School will provide the funding for this trip.

The 3MT® competition was first developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, and they have prepared a comprehensive set of rules and judging criteria. The competition will employ these same guidelines. Please view the complete rules and judging criteria online

  Rules 

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations. or movement of any description; the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum, and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts his/her presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

 Judging Criteria

Presentations will be judged based on the following: 

Engagement and Communication 

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more? 
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact, and vocal range; maintain a steady pace; and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation? Was it clear, legible, and concise?

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence? 
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance, and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology, and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of the presentation — or did he/she elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

To view videos of succesful 3MT presentations visit the 3MT Website.