Sheree Bekker | Three-minute Thesis: my take

I recently participated in the Three Minute Thesis competition – a research communication challenge for higher degree by research students. Condensing a three-year research plan into a three-minute presentation with one static slide is not as exactly as difficult as it sounds.

Tasked with needing to be clear, concise and jargon-free is tough for us PhD scholars. This is especially true when the impostor syndrome steps in, and all that you want to do is prove that you know what you are talking about – it is your own research after all. Spending days rewording and revising this elevator pitch that will never be published may seem like a waste of time to many a student who feels that they need to focus on the pressing task of actually doing the research, not talking about it.

Being able to communicate your research is an integral part of your research.

Whilst the nerves hit me on the day – there is probably a blog post to come on that – and I did not win my university’s heat, it was still an invaluable experience that I would recommend to any PhD scholar. The challenge also articulated with an exercise on ‘communicating the centre of gravity of your PhD’ at the writing retreat that I am currently attending.

Developing an elevator pitch to explain what you are researching, and why, is an invaluable tool in the narrative around your PhD. As Ross Tucker recently tweeted in a 7-tweet series about science communication: “Why hope that your life’s work will make a broader impact thanks to someone else (assuming you want this), when you can own it yourself?”.