No cameras, no lights but definite Zoom action

Posted 14/06/2023 by Sarah Nalden

Sarah Nalden, Communications and Marketing Executive, at Vitae, rounds-up the tips and advice from this years'  Vitae 3MT® competition tips 2020 finalists and judges

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Vitae has been supporting the 3 Minute Thesis competition® (3MT®) since 2014, equating to a legacy of almost 10,000 doctoral candidates who, in addition to undertaking their PhD, choose to experience the challenging, tiring and nerve wracking competition stages. Why?: in pursuit of personal, academic and institutional recognition, improved career prospects, life-long skills development and raising the importance of research, through public engagement. 

 “Being able to sum, up your work in three minutes is a great skill.” Steve Scott, Public Engagement Lead, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

The competition founded by the University of Queensland challenges researchers to articulate their research in just three minutes. This year the Vitae 3MT® competition, sponsored by Taylor & Francis, reached new heights because it was held as a virtual event and broadcast ‘live’ as an open access piece. Much to the anticipation of the researcher and researcher development community, along with friends and relatives, the Vitae 3MT® 2020 competition allowed for the first time, external voting to take place, for the People’s Choice Prize. Around 800 people globally registered to watch the competition which was broadcast during lunchtime to accommodate viewing from across time zones.

Lucy Thomas 3MT winner 2020

Holding the Vitae 3MT® 2020 competition virtually really opened up engagement from what was previously contained within the four walls of Vitae’s annual conference, to a wider audience, helping showcase the importance of research activities, at a global public engagement level.

” …we have been able to, in this online final, take it to a much wider in audience… which is a really inclusive approach.” Clare Viney, CEO, CRAC/Vitae

What can future 3MT® participants learn from this year’s judges feedback?

In the interviews following this year’s Vitae 3MT® competition, the judges highlighted the following positive attributes that made the 2020 finalist presentations more impactful:

  • Showing passion and enthusiasm
  • Using easy to understand analogies
  • Clarity in condensing and articulating complicated ideas
  • Effectively describe interaction at ‘ground level’ (i.e’ laymans’ description of research being undertaken in the lab or out in the field) with ‘big data’ at global level i.e what this means to society and its potential impact
  • Well rounded & professional delivery (with possible elements of ‘drama’ and expression where appropriate!). This can especially bring an online performance to life.

What inspiration and advice did our 2020 finalists have for future Vitae 3MT® competition entrants?

Claire Carswell 2020 finalist

Claire Carswell, School of nursing and midwifery, Queen’s University, Belfast, felt that whether presenting virtual or not, the most challenging aspect about the Three Minute Thesis competition® was reducing the presentation down to three minutes, but noted that this really makes you think critically about your research and pick apart the most important parts to convey.

Daniel Koomson 3MT 2020 finalist


Daniel Koomson, College of Life and Natural Sciences, University of Derby said he has learned a lot and refers to a journey of self-discovery. He says you should believe in yourself and give it a try as you never know what is going to come out of it.


Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni 20

Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, sponsored by Cancer Research UK at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary, University of London and People’s Choice Winner, spoke about the passion for being able to give back to the community (who have donated so much funding), as a result of her research into bowel cancer. 


Sogul Salamipour 3MT finalist


Sogol Salamipour, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College London said to polish her presentation, she practiced in the mirror and recorded herself on her phone. She recommends presenting to your family as a good ‘lay’ audience.

Lucy Thomas


Lucy Thomas, Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham and the Judges Choice Winner, said that whilst incredibly nerve-wracking, the final presentation was her highlight of the whole 3MT® process and talks about the great opportunity the competition brings.

Nekisa Zakeri


Nekisa Zakeri, Medical Sciences, University College London, said that because everyone has been a bit more isolated of late, it is nice to feel part of 3MT® PGR community.


Parting advice from Leon Heward-Mills, Managing Director of Research Services, Taylor and Francis, our sponsor of the Vitae 3MT competition 2020 is that now more than ever researcher resilience is key. Leon advises not to give up, get your story across and explain why your research has genuine real-world impact. This advice of course, reaches far beyond the 3MT® competition as the ability to concisely relay the relevance of research is an important skill in helping to access funding.

“..Now more than ever, researchers have got a duty, to ensure the translation of what they are doing is something that shows genuine real-world impact.” Leon Heward-Mills, Managing Director of Research Services, Taylor and Francis

So after working out solutions to transition from a face-to face event to an online one, the Vitae 3MT®  2020 competition was a definite success - both on a global engagement level and a significant milestone for delivery in such a novel format. Credit to all involved, especially all member institutions that took part.

We look forward to revealing the plans for the Vitae 3MT® 2021 competition final and in the meantime, if you haven’t already signed up for the exhilarating journey, carpe diem!

Register your institution to the Vitae 2021® competition 

Watch the broadcast of the Vitae 2020® competition final

Researchers: pick up more tips from previous finalists

Researcher developers: get advice from experienced Vitae 3MT® competition organiser