What I learnt from talking in front of tons of people. 

By Hannah James

Back in June this year, Kelsie and I attended the official launch of the 3 minute thesis (3MT) competition for 2015. Previous contestants spoke and an inspirational video was played and the whole thing seemed cool. We were sucked in.

After attending as many of the training sessions as possible to give us an idea of what the hell we were meant to do and to take full advantage of free food, we had the RSES school round. After 9 minutes of exceptional entertainment, all three of us (Veronika, Kelsie and I) luckily made it through to the college round.

The Science college round was held in August at the Finkel Theatre at the John Curtain School of Medical Research, with tough competition from Astronomy and Astrophysics and a ridiculously large group of Physics students, mainly studying plasma and fusion technologies.

Kelsie and I were fortunate to make it to the ANU final, with Kelsie blitzing the college heat and winning a wonderful certificate.

3MT college heat winners
Certificates! Oh yeah!

Intense campaigning by the ANU meant that the ANU final was going to be massive. In the lead up to the final we had training sessions on presenting, movement and our speeches, with our fellow competitors from across the ANU. The weeks before the event were at times overwhelming, but on the night I couldn’t have been more grateful. Knowing I knew my speech meant I wasn’t silently freaking out backstage.

An over 1000 people strong audience attended the final at Llewellyn Hall on September 18, a slightly terrifying sight.

2_the judges
The esteemed judges.

We, the competitors, waited patiently backstage for our time to shine, in our green room, with a livestreaming screen, sparkling water, brownies which got caught in your teeth and a selfie stick.

3_selfie stick
Backstage selfie stick action.

One by one we performed and in the end Kiara from Engineering and Computer Science was crowned champion and RSES’s very own Kelsie was runner-up.

4_runner up
Otoliths for the win!

Overall I did actually enjoy the experience and would highly recommend it to everyone. Get on it for 2016!

I learnt a lot from the experience including:

  • Communication is key to scientific research, so practicing it as a grad student is extremely beneficial
  • Scripting hand movements for a speech makes you feel awkward
  • Scripting walking around a stage while talking makes you feel super awkward
  • But when you finally coordinate your hands, feet and speech you feel powerful
  • Being able to explain your research to a lay person, without dumbing your research down is an amazing skill, one well worth learning
  • Getting other people excited about your research is fun
  • Writing a 3 minute speech takes weeks
  • Making a single, static, simple slide is complicated
  • ANU has a wide range of research going on; some of it amazing, some very random and some both
  • 3 minutes is both an insanely long and incredibly short amount of time.

Enjoy the videos of the event online, including the moment when I say ‘Oh My God’ into my live microphone as I walk onto stage…….

5_hannah on stage
The moment of tooth.