BYU students to participate in a competition to give the best elevator speech of their work.
It’s easy to comprehend that earning a graduate degree takes many long days and late nights writing papers, going to classes and doing research. But how easy would it be to condense all that work, thought and study into a brief, three-minute presentation?
This is exactly the challenge graduate students at Brigham Young University will face on March 10, in the Varsity Theatre at the 3 Minute Thesis competition, or 3MT as it’s known around BYU campus. Graduate students from every college will concisely explain the research, goals and results required for their thesis, dissertation or project into a 180-second presentation for an audience that might be unfamiliar with the topic.
Just because they are presenting to a lay audience the students won’t be dumbing down their findings, said Tyler Smith, president of the BYU Graduate Student Society. It’s the opposite.
“This event is a TED Talk on steroids,” he said, comparing 3MT to the popular conference series presenting powerful ideas in short presentations.
Being able to synthesize big ideas is precisely the skill BYU Graduate Studies Dean Wynn Stirling hopes all graduates students at BYU will be able to learn as a result of 3MT.
“Some of the qualities employers are looking for are good team players and efficient communicators,” he said. “The 3MT competition prepares students of every discipline to improve in these areas.”
Haley Flanders, a BYU Theatre graduate student who participated in 3MT last year, said all the practicing she did to get the pacing and emphases in the right places for the brief speech has really helped her presentation skills.
“There really is no point in writing a thesis if it is not comprehensive or applicable to other people,” Flanders said. “The 3MT competition guarantees that a graduate student will consider the reader and the everyday audience when summing up their research and presenting how their studies and theories can benefit the world and their area of education.”
The competition showcases a broad range of topics from across the university. Each of the 10 colleges at BYU carefully selects two students to represent that discipline, creating an event that will have enough variety to engage nearly everyone.
“This is one of the best ways to learn about some of the excellent things that are happening in our graduate programs,” said James Crane, assistant dean of Graduate Studies. “The best of the best from each college will be competing.”
Hearing reports on broad range of topics is inspiring even for the presenters themselves. Kelly Smith, a BYU Nursing graduate and former 3MT presenter, said she benefited most from the awareness created by learning about emerging knowledge, theories and technologies.
“As a graduate student, your thesis becomes all consuming and at times you feel that its subject matter only interests you,” said Smith. “However, the 3MT competition provides a platform through which graduate students can share the significance of their thesis subjects and enlighten others regarding their research efforts. The sharing of this newfound knowledge was inspiring and motivating and I found myself anxious to carry on further research in my field of study.”
A panel of judges looking for the most effectively succinct presentations will select the competition winners. Also, the audience will be invited to vote for the People’s Choice award winner.
This year’s 3MT competition will be held on Thursday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Varsity Theatre in the Wilkinson Student Center on the BYU campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The event will also be streamed live at youtube.com/BYUGraduateStudies.
Writer: Brennan Tolman and Charles Hilton