3MT® Contestant Information

3MT Participation Guide

Register for the current 3MT event.

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. 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 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Active graduate students who have defended their thesis/dissertation proposal (including candidates whose dissertations are under submission) are eligible to participate in the fall 3MT competition.

Write for your audience

  • Avoid jargon and academic language.
  • Explain concepts and people important to your research - you may know all about Professor Smith’s theories but your audience may not.
  • Highlight the outcomes of your research and the desired outcome.
  • Imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow student from another field.
  • Convey your excitement and enthusiasm for your subject.

Tell a story

  • You may like to present your 3MT as a narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • It’s not easy to condense your research into three minutes, so you may find it easier to break your presentation down into smaller sections.
  • Try writing an opener to catch the attention of the audience, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.

Have a clear outcome in mind

  • Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
  • Try to leave the audience with an understanding of what you’re doing, why it is important, and what you hope to achieve.


  • Proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, to yourself, and to an audience of friends and family.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is about and why it is important.


Before you start work on your slide, you should take the following rules into account:

  • One single static PowerPoint slide is permitted;
  • No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are permitted;
  • Your slide is to be presented from the beginning of your oration; and
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.


You may like to consider some of the following suggestions.

  • Less is more: text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – you don’t want them to read your slide instead of listening to your 3MT.
  • Personal touches: personal touches can allow your audience to understand the impact of your research.
  • Creativity drives interest: do not rely on your slide to convey your message – it should simply complement your oration.
  • Work your message: think about how your slide might be able to assist with the format and delivery of your presentation – is there a metaphor that helps explain your research?
  • An engaging visual presentation can make or break any oration, so make sure your slide is legible, clear, and concise.

Practice, practice, practice

  • Feeling nervous before you present is natural, and a little nervousness can even be beneficial to your overall speech. Nonetheless, it is important to practice so you can present with confidence and clarity. Practicing will also help you gauge the timing of your 3MT so that you keep within the time limit.

Vocal range

  • Speak clearly and use variety in your voice (fast/slow, loud/ soft).
  • Do not rush – find your rhythm.
  • Remember to pause at key points as it gives the audience time to think about what you are saying.

Body language

  • Stand straight and confidently.
  • Hold your head up and make eye contact.
  • Never turn your back to the audience.
  • Practice how you will use your hands and move around the stage. It is okay to move around energetically if that is your personality, however, it is also appropriate for a 3MT presentation to be delivered from a single spot on stage.
  • Do not make the common mistakes of rolling back and forth on your heels, pacing for no reason, or playing with your hair as these habits are distracting for the audience.

Record yourself

  • Record and listen to your presentation to hear where you pause, speak too quickly, or get it just right.
  • Then work on your weaknesses and exploit your strengths.

Look to the stars!

  • Watch your role models such as academics, politicians, and journalists, and break down their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Analyze how they engage with their audience.
  • View presentations by previous 3MT finalists from the University of Queensland.


  • You should dress for a job interview or an important meeting. However, it is important that you feel comfortable so you can focus on your presentation.
  • If you are presenting on a stage that has a wooden floor, be aware of the noise your footwear might make.
  • Do not wear a costume of any kind as this is against the rules (as is the use of props).

3MT® Competition

To participate in the 2021 Fall 3MT® Competition, each contestant must provide a pre-recorded video presentation for consideration as part of their 2021 entry. The TGS 3MT® Event Coordinator will contact the contestant and provide additional details about the 3MT® preliminaries (Live or Virtual).

Video submissions are important to ensure the 3MT® competition can pivot quickly to a virtual format should Covid-19 restrictions be implemented; this does not prevent the live event from being planned to celebrate the exceptional research conducted by our MFA, EdD, and PhD candidates.

3MT® Eligibility

Active graduate students who have defended their dissertation proposal (including candidates whose dissertations are under submission) are eligible to participate in the fall 3MT® competition.

3MT® Preliminary Process + Video Submission

To compete, submit the registration form found on the tgs.unt.edu/3mt website. The 3MT® Event Coordinator will provide instructions to competitors regarding their preliminary round, the video recording and submission process, and whether it is planned as a live or virtual event.

Each competitor will prepare, record, and edit their 3MT® presentation (using any available recording or mobile device) and send the recording to the graduate school for consideration. Each school/department has the opportunity to promote its 3MT® competitors.

(Live or Virtual) Members of the UNT judging panel will review all presentations (score using 3MT® scoring sheets). If the preliminary rounds are virtual, the graduate school will share the contestants’ videos with the judging panel and then conduct a Zoom meeting to discuss the video presentations with competitors. If the preliminary rounds are live, contestants will present live to the judging panel. The judges will provide each candidate feedback. In both scenarios, the contestants will receive an email alerting them to which twelve contestants may advance to the final round of the UNT 3MT®.

Please note: The judging panel will not judge the presentation based on the video/recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the contestant’s ability to communicate their research to a non-specialist audience and the 3MT® PowerPoint slide.


Immediately after the preliminary rounds, the chosen 3MT® finalists may participate in a photo opportunity hosted on the UNT Denton campus to receive a professional photograph. The graduate school will produce social media graphics and promote the final competition, and the People’s Choice vote. Each school/department may promote their 3MT® competitors for People’s Choice. During this time, contestants may use the feedback received during the preliminary round to revise and edit their presentation slide and speech before the live audience at the Lyceum (if COVID restrictions allow). A new judging panel of community members is convened for the final round.

Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the following judging criteria. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on the audience.

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed while explaining the terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact or results of the research?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the dissertation topic, research significance, results, and outcomes communicated in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation? Or did they elaborate too long on one aspect or rush other details?

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 topic?
  • Did the orator have sufficient stage presence, eye contact, vocal range?
  • Did the presenter maintain a steady pace and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?