Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Donald Slater

Donald was a finalist in the 2015 competition.

Contestant details

Name: Donald Slater

Position: 2015 Finalist

PhD Topic: Not published yet

3MT Talk Title: The Greenland Ice Sheet: cold ice in a hot drink

Do you have any top tips for preparing for the competition?

You don't have much time so make sure you really use your words carefully. It can be tempting to try to fit too much in; in my opinion it's better to say less but say it well rather than rushing. And other than that I think it's all about practice.

How has 3MT benefited you?

The obvious benefit has been confidence in public speaking. Delivering a 3MT can be quite nervewrecking as you are delivering a memorised speech (without many prompts) under time pressure. I found that going back to normal academic presentations, with 15 minute talks and slides to prompt, felt significantly more chilled out in terms of time and pressure, after going through the 3MT experience.

What was the most challenging thing about 3MT?

The most challenging thing is memorising a 3 minute speech and delivering it under pressure. Or perhaps stepping out of your comfort zone to deliver your 3MT in a style which you are not used to.

Why would you recommend 3MT to other doctoral students?

I would highly recommend it for two reasons. The first is that it is great practice in communicating your work to a non-specialist audience. Having so little time to do this helps you really focus in on the "big picture" of your work. Secondly it is brilliant presentation practice - you will devote time to aspects of presentations which are often neglected in other academic situations. These aspects might include intonation, style, pace and learning to talk without slide prompts.

How have you used the skills gained in the competition?

Since the 3MT competition, I've ended up giving my 3MT a number of times to a variety of audiences. So I think the 3MT has helped me with communicating my work to a wider audience, and certainly improved my ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple way.

Did it help you with your subsequent study/employment?

There are two main things 3MT has helped me with. One is obviously confidence in presentations. The second is that 3MT helps you think about the broad-scale goals of your work, and I think that during your work it is important to keep sight of these goals.