Fireside Chat: Why You Should Do a 3MT Competition

The 3 MT TMcompetition is held on many campuses and grad students compete to be a finalist.  They have the opportunity to win money.

We were excited to hold our first 3 MT TM competition at The University of Georgia on March 29, 2012.  Looking back, it’s fun to read what the 10 finalists said about their experience.

Many told us how they practiced while at traffic lights, over yogurt cones with friends, with international students not in their discipline, or with family members.  What came through loud and clear was how much they learned about themselves, their research, effective communication, and the importance of seeing the big picture.

Why should you do a 3 MT TM competition?Here’s what they said.

“We often forget to step outside of our own departments and fields to see how our research and others interact.”  It is important to make research accessible and understandable, so we can have an impact.  Learning to communicate to others in a meaningful way is key.

One student summarized the experience of competing in the competition as way to prepare for his future. “It’s important to think about my research in the eyes of the general audience. You know in the future, we will probably “sell” our ideas or research to others who have no technical knowledge.”

The experience took students from being in the weeds of their research topic to one that enabled them to see from 50,000 feet.

“The experience refocused me on the bigger picture.”  Several students told us that it was an opportunity to rethink their research in a different way.   “You need to have a good grasp on the big picture of your research and why it’s pertinent.”

They said it was important to have a good understanding of what the general public knows and doesn’t know about their research topic, so they could prepare their talk.

Several talked about how the experience of competing was a fun challenge – a “nice departure from the norm.” Others talked about how the competition was an opportunity to challenge themselves.

Finally, this student’s comment sums it up. “We are doing wonderful things we think are necessary but ultimately, if we can’t present our ideas and results to people from all walks of life, we doing a disservice to ourselves.”

Hope to see you at a 3MT TMcompetition!

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My experience as the chief academic officer and administrator charged with providing vision and leadership in planning, guiding, and coordinating all aspects of graduate education from admission through graduation at two major research universities provides the foundation for our fireside chats.

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