Was this your first attempt at the competition?
Yes it was, but I watched and supported my fellow PhD students last year. I went to Margaret Heffernan’s presentation skills workshop at the HDR conference and the RMIT School of Graduate Research held a specific 3MT information session.
What are the top three things you learned that you could pass on to others?
Expect nerves – so know how to deal with them, and use the energy.
Practise in front of people from all walks of life (get lots of feedback). Also, try to rehearse in the actual location.
Test your one allowed slide in the location and with a variety of people. Everyone will have a different reaction.
It’s the only way to engage people in your topic outside your PhD group (that is you and your supervisors). People don’t have 20 minutes to hear all the details.
Are you looking forward to the national competition?
Yes I am. I can’t wait to hear the other participants and visit University of Queensland. Even though it’s a competition, here at RMIT everyone was so collegiate and I expect that to be the same at the finals. Everyone who enters at every level should be really proud of themselves, it’s a challenge, but it has so many lasting benefits.
Have you always been a confident public speaker?
I have been involved in research since I completed my undergraduate (degree), so I have presented at a lot of conferences and I’ve also done some lecturing. But 3MT was different.
I was super nervous, even when I practised in front of my supervisors. Was it the timer counting down? Was it the competition factor? Was it the pressure of being able to remember it all?
I’d never been so nervous at any other presentation before!
During the final, one of my legs started trembling so much I had to shift my weight to stop it from taking off on its own.
Anything else we should know about you?
Have you got more than three minutes? I’ve got three teenage children. I do a lot of exercise to keep fit but also to maintain my sanity and to enjoy time with my friends and kids – so my “spare time” usually involves running, hiking and mountain biking (I like challenges).
Anything else we should know about the competition?
Every PhD student should enter their college semi-final. Its good practise, as it will help your abstract writing skills, your milestone presentations, your conference presentations and any media or non-research presentations that you will and should do. There are also a lot of 3MT videos online. These are good to watch and learn from, but don’t forget your own style, your own story, and who you are.
The 2017 3MT Final is at University of Queensland on 13 September.
Interview by: Jane Kenrick