Edinburgh Cancer Research

Developing and demonstrating public presentation skills

The IGMM Heat of the 3MT Competition and “Do Your Looks Betray You?”: February 2019

3 minute thesis winner

The first stage of this year’s global public presentation competition, the Three Minute Thesis, kicked off for MRC IGMM Students on Thursday afternoon, 31 January. The Three Minute Thesis challenges doctoral students to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

Earlier in the month, Priya Hari and Toby Gurran inspired 19 students attending an IGMM Public Engagement training session about entering public presentation competition like the 3MT, as they shared their tips for 3MT success. This competition develops research students' academic, presentation and research communication skills, ensuring that they develop the ability to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Ten PhD students from across the MRC IGMM bravely took on the challenge of condensing their research into short, snappy and highly entertaining presentations, aided only by one static slide. This is a very popular annual event for the 600 staff and students within the IGMM and the East Seminar Room was packed, with standing room only!

The atmosphere tingled with anticipation as everyone looked forward to hearing from these students, as they shared their work and its importance in accessible, engaging ways.

This competition is a great addition to our Researcher Development Programme and provides an excellent opportunity to showcase and share the work of our PhD students. For these students, it encourages them to really reflect on the key messages being revealed by their research - to step back from focusing on the nitty gritty detail of their work and get back to their core objective, of why they are doing this research in the first place and the impact they hope it will have, which is hugely emerging and motivational. As students’ progress through the heats of the competition it also provides a great networking opportunity.

One of our Senior Researcher Fellows, Dr Martin Reijns, is the Institute’s Staff Student Liaison Officer and annually coordinates the IGMM Heat of the 3MT Competition. Martin said “This is an incredibly rewarding series of events.  I am very proud of our PhD students who stood up in front of a large, supportive audience and delivered their 3 minute presentations – all to an extraordinarily standard that exceeded my expectations”

Dee Davison, IGMM Public Engagement Manger added “Competitions like the 3MT improves the public engagement skills of our students and their English language, if English is not their first language and arguably most importantly, significantly boosts their self-confidence and fires their enthusiasm”

During the evening of 31 January, one of our particularly engaging Principal Investigators Professor Ian Jackson, presented as part of our Medical School’s historic Anatomy Lecture “Do Your Looks Betray You?“ – a sell-out public event. As a geneticist Ian, alongside an art historian, a forensic scientist and a sociologist explored what a person’s appearance might reveal about their personality. Ian summarised the event “We had a forensic scientist who does facial reconstruction, a PhD student studying online communities, an art historian specialising in surrealism and myself considering the question "Do Your Looks Betray You? Does your appearance tell us anything about your personality?". A pre-talk poll found a surprising majority of the audience though that looks did reveal personality, although in general the speakers were of the opposite view. Interestingly, the audience views didn't change much through the event – despite the arguments presented!”


3 minute thesis collage