Pictured: Headshot of a woman smiling in front of a body of water with a green overlay, next to text that reads, Celebrating success. Imagine...the possibilities.
Pictured: 2023 USask 3MP Champion Rima Siauciunaite

Journey to becoming 3MP Champion: Celebrating postdoctoral success in communication

Rima Siauciunaite entered the USask Three Minute Postdoc Competition for a chance to brush up on her communication skills for a conference - she didn’t expect to spark a renewed motivation in her postdoctoral research project.

This February, USask postdoctoral scholars were invited to participate in the USask Three Minute Postdoc Competition (3MP), where they had the opportunity to explain the significance of their postdoctoral research to a non-specialist audience in three minutes, with only a static slide as a visual aid. This friendly, university-wide competition challenges participants’ communication skills and their ability to summarize the complex problems their research solves, in a format that is basic enough for a layperson to understand.

Rima Siauciunaite, this year’s first place 3MP winner, originally took notice of the competition as an opportunity to refresh her communications skills for an upcoming conference. “It was fortunate that the 3MP competition took place before the conference. I [was] able to rethink my work and view it from a different perspective. After asking myself, “Why does my research matter? Why should anybody care about it?”, I began to consider new and creative ways to explain and communicate my research,”. Siauciunaite saw the competition as an opportunity to gain feedback on her presentation skills, a vital tool for researchers looking to better communicate their work to all audiences.

Involvement of circadian clocks in oral cancer pathogenesis and treatment - Dr. Rima Siauciunaite, College of Dentistry

While developing her presentation, Siauciunaite focused on keeping her content simple and easy to understand. She made a point to avoid specific academic language and jargon while explaining the most important highlights of her work. Next, she attempted to explain her research to students from other fields, learning how to best put complicated ideas into plain language. According to Siauciunaite, “If you’re not able to explain to what you’re doing in three sentences, then you don’t understand what you’re doing.” These exercises helped her clarify the most important ideas she wanted to share in her presentation and helped to construct a story to illustrate her ideas in a more engaging way.

Once she had a grasp on what kind of story she wanted to share and how she could best use her three minutes to tell it, Siauciunaite kept her focus on what she wanted listeners to take away from her presentation, “As a general rule, I strive to leave the audience with a clear understanding of what I am doing, why it is important, and what I hope to accomplish,”.

According to Rima, her participation in the USask 3MP did more than improve her communication skills; it also sparked new motivation in her postdoctoral research project. “I was able to reflect on my research questions and findings in a way I had never done before,” said Siauciunaite, “It helped me move away from simply focusing on the mistakes I had made in my research and what I would have done differently and instead celebrate my important work and communicate it effectively.”

Learn more about how you can get involved in the USask 3MP competition and check out the 2022/23 presentations by visiting cgps.usask.ca/postdocs.

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