Guide for Participants


Necola Guerrina from the Department of Pathology in 2017 3MTRules for Participation

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations must be given live during the McGill-wide competition; no streaming or recorded video. (Individual departments may accept recorded videos if they wish)
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Presentation Tips

Write for your audience

  • Avoid jargon and academic language.
  • Explain concepts and people important to your research - you may know all about Professor Smith’s theories but your audience may not.
  • Highlight the outcomes of your research, and the desired outcome.
  • Imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow student from another field.
  • Convey your excitement and enthusiasm for your subject.

Tell a story

  • You may like to present your 3MT as a narrative, with a beginning, middle and end.
  • It’s not easy to condense your research into three minutes, so you may find it easier to break your presentation down into smaller sections.
  • Try writing an opener to catch the attention of the audience, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.

Have a clear outcome in mind

  • Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
  • Try to leave the audience with an understanding of what you’re doing, why it is important, and what you hope to achieve.


  • Proof your 3MT presentation by reading it aloud, to yourself and to an audience of friends and family.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is about and why it is important.

Slide Tips

Before you start work on your slide, you should take the following rules into account:

  • One single static PowerPoint slide is permitted;
  • No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are permitted;
  • Your slide is to be presented from the beginning of your oration; and
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.

You may like to consider some of the following suggestions:

  • Less is more: text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – you don’t want them to read your slide instead of listening to your 3MT.
  • Personal touches: personal touches can allow your audience to understand the impact of your research.
  • Creativity drives interest: do not rely on your slide to convey your message – it should simply complement your oration.
  • Work your message: think about how your slide might be able to assist with the format and delivery of your presentation – is there a metaphor that helps explain your research?
  • An engaging visual presentation can make or break any oration, so make sure your slide is legible, clear and concise.

Advice from Past Participants

  • Practice, practice, practice – with everyone around you. Show them your slide, too, and get feedback. This helps you refine your talk, but also helps you feel more confident on the day of the competition.
  • To make sure a wide audience will understand your message, practice in front of as many people (and as many different kinds of people) as you can and get their feedback. You don’t necessarily have to take all of their feedback.
  • This is a different kind of presentation because you have no notes or slides to look at – just the audience. Make sure you practice making eye contact so you feel comfortable.
  • Watch previous 3MT presentations (there are many online).
  • Choose key points from your research that have real-life meaning and application, even if your research is lab-based.
  • Organize your speech in the same order as the main parts of a thesis or manuscript, with more time spent on the last two points (results and implications – what did you find and how will it make a difference?).
  • Write for an audience that is someone outside your field (e.g., 17-year old brother, your grandmother).
  • Use simple, non-technical language.
  • Use short sentences (no more than 20 words per sentence, or no longer than one line) and no more than 2 clauses per sentence.
  • Use signposting strategies (e.g., counting, asking and answering questions) to engage your audience.
  • Start with a hook (fact, question).
  • Avoid looking at your slide unless you point to it.
  • Do not apologize if you stumble – keep going.
  • Make it personal and relevant to yourself and your audience – tell stories!
  • Use active language that focuses on how the research affects people and avoid passive sentences.
  • Speak slowly. Plan where you are going to take pauses and when you’ll use hand gestures.
  • Have fun! If you are enjoying doing the presentation, the audience will enjoy hearing you talk.
As a McGill student, your participation in activities such as training workshops and volunteering are tracked on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)! Having your co-curricular activities listed in one document can help you revise your CV or cover letter, prepare for interviews, and explore career options. Learn how to leverage this important document through myInvolvement, and make your training count!
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