Fields Thesis Competition
April 18, 2017, The Fields Institute
The Fields Institute is proud to announce the Fields Thesis Competition for PhD students in mathematical sciences. The goal is to have doctoral students explain their research in an accessible and engaging manner to a panel of non-specialist judges – all within three minutes.
This competition is open to doctoral students in the mathematical sciences at the Fields Principle Sponsoring Universities. The competition will be held at the Fields Institute at 222 College St, Toronto Onatrio on April 18, 2017. Prizes will be given to the best presentations.
To register for the competition, please use the link on the upper right corner of this page. Students must provide a title and abstract of their talk as part of the registration form. A one slide power point for the talk can be submitted any time after registration but before April 14, 2017.
- Students must be full-time registered PhD students in a mathematical sciences department at one of the Fields Sponsoring Universities on the date of the competition. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact us.
- Students will not be permitted to use any props (video, audio, costumes, musical instruments, laser pointer, etc) for their presentation. A one page powerpoint is allowed. This must be submitted ahead of time through the submission form recieved after registering.
- Fields will also create a one page powerpoint for each presentation that identifies the student and the title of their presentation. This will be shown before the student starts speaking after which their provided page (if any) will appear.
- Students may speak for a maximum of three minutes. The judges will ensure this time limit is strictly enforced. Students exceeding this time will be disqualified. Clear visual signals will be given to indicate one minute and 30 seconds to completion.
- Students may use speaking notes. A microphone will be available.
- Depending on the number of students registering, there will either be one or two rounds of competition.
- The decision of the judges are final.
Presentations will be judged on three criteria:
- How well was the research explained?
- Was the aim of the research clear?
- Was the place of the research in a broader setting understood?
- Was a clear research plan being followed that would result in a worthwhile outcome?
- Did the speaker leave the audience wanting to learn more about the research?
- Was the presenter able to communicate the sophistication of the research?
- Did the presenter convey their enthusiasm for the research?
- Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
- Did the speaker explain their research in a non-technical language, avoiding “jargon” whenever possible?
- Did the presentation seem rushed with the speaker trying to communicate too much in the time available?
- Did the speaker use sufficient eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and a confident stance?
- Did the presenter spend the right amount of time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long or were rushed?
Helpful Hints for a Winning Presentation
Content of the talk:
1. Do not make your talk technical. Assume your audience is well educated but not knowledgeable in your field of study.
2. Make your power point slide engaging. Do not fill it with small details. Use an image that is fun, informative, and high quality. Keep text and data to a minimum. Filling your power point with lots of information will mean your audience is spending their time reading it instead of listening to you.
3. Focus on the big picture. Place your research in a larger setting. Start the talk by explaining the bigger challenge in your research area in a way that makes it relevant to the audience. Then explain the place of your research within this broader challenge.
4. Do not use jargon. Do not quote lots of data. Your audience will lose interest if they are being forced to remember lots of details.
5. Present a logical flow to what you are trying to convey. Make it easy for the audience to follow your train of thought.
6. Present the highlights of your results. You do not need to present all of your results. Rather, show how your research contributes back to the bigger challenge you presented at the start.
7. A story can humanize your talk and allow your audience to relate to it better. If you decide to incorporate a story, make sure it illustrates an important aspect of what you’re conveying.
8. Finish your talk with a short summary of the original big-picture challenge and how your research is adressing it. If possible, indicate in one or two sentences what could come next.
1. Practice for your friends and family. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice instead of watching TV. Practice, practice, practice. Ask for feedback and reflect on it honestly.
2. Engage your audience. The best way is to show how enthusiastic you are about your work. If you look bored, your audience will be bored. If you are excited, your enthusiasm will translate to the audience.
3. Stick with simple language. It’ll be easier for you to speak the words and easier for your audience to follow you.
4. Don’t use long (run-on) sentences. Sentence breaks give you and your audience a momentary rest.
5. Slow down. It’s natural to talk faster in front of an audience, so practice speaking clearly and slowly.
6. Watch a speech by Barak Obama on the internet and noticie how and when he pauses. Notice in particiular how you begin to anticipate what he'll say next.
7. Dress appropriately. Looking neat and professional is a sign of respect to your audience and ensures they are focused on what you're saying.
8. Never speak longer than you are allowed. Time your talk each time you practice to ensure you don't exceed two minues and 50 seconds. Finishing a few seconds early is far better than being cut off by the judges.