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Grad Slam

"The communications course at UCI’s Graduate Resource Center (GRC) was instrumental in helping me win the inaugural Grad Slam competition, because it taught me about different aspects of speaking and engaging with the audience and I highly recommend the course for all graduate scholars."- Ashley Fong, UC System-Wide 2015 Grad Slam Winner

Grad Slam is a systemwide competition that showcases and awards the best three-minute research presentations by graduate scholars. This competition not only highlights the excellence, importance and relevance of UCI graduate scholars and their research, but it is also designed to increase graduate students' communication skills and their capacity to effectively present their work with poise and confidence. It is an opportunity to share accomplishments with the campus, friends of UCI, the local community, and the broader public.  Thank you to all of our participants and judges, see you next year!

Click here to view the video of the systemwide competition.

General Information Contact: Turner Dahl
Media Inquiries: Communications Director, Wida Karim


Don’t miss the 2017 UCI Grad Slam competition finals! This competition showcases and awards the best three-minute presentation by graduate scholars, highlighting the excellence, significance and relevance of their research in relatable language.  

After the UCI finals, our campus champion will go on to a system-wide competition hosted by UC President Napolitano. In 2015, the University of California held its first system-wide Grad Slam research presentation competition and UC Irvine’s Ashley Fong took first place!  Irvine’s 2016 champion, Mallory Hinks, went on to win second place in the system-wide Grad Slam.  We would like to invite you to join us as we attempt to become Grad Slam champions once again.

The finals round will take place on April 11 in the Newkirk Alumni Center at 3:00. A reception will be held immediately following the competition with light refreshments. Please join the finalists, faculty and prominent members of the Orange County community. Parking will be provided. Click here to register:


  • UCI Application and Video Submission Deadline: February 3, 2017
  • UCI Semi-Finals: March 16, 2017 - Graduate Resource Center
                            Session 1:  10:00AM – 11:30AM
                            Session 2:  12:00PM – 1:30PM
                            Session 3:  2:00PM – 3:30PM
  • UCI Finals: April 11, 2017 - Newkirk Alumni Center
  • UC Systemwide Finals: May 4, 2017 - San Francisco Bay Area (more details to come)


Fill out the Grad Slam Application Form and include the URL to your video by February 3, 2017.

Video Instructions:

  • Record a three-minute video of yourself explaining your research and its significance as if speaking to an audience of people without academic experience in your field. Consider the video a rough draft, letting the judges get a sense of your research and the impact you believe it may have. The video will not be judged on production value.
  • The video should be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and available for judges to view February 3rd - March 16th, 2017. The video will only be shared with internal UCI judges and will not be shared beyond that without consent from the contestant.
  • At the beginning of your video, please state your full name, graduate program, and title of your video. The time it takes to do this will not be counted against the three minutes you may take to present your research.
  • Videos may be recorded on your cell phone/personal video device or using equipment from the Multimedia Resource Center at the library.


Students will give their three-minute research presentations in front of a panel of judges during the semi-finals on March 16, 2017 in the Graduate Resource Center.

The top contestants will compete in the campus finals on April 11th.


Finals will be held on April 11, 2017 in the Newkirk Alumni Center at 3 PM. Contestants will give their three-minute research presentations in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. Students may use up to three PowerPoint slides, with rules governing their use listed under the rules tab below.

All are invited to attend, but audience members will be expected to stay for the entire event.

The winner will represent UC Irvine at the UC systemwide finals on May 4.

RULES (2016 - subject to change for 2017)


All UCI graduate students enrolled during both Winter Quarter 2017 and Spring Quarter 2017 are eligible to submit applications.


  • Slides are optional, but strongly encouraged.
  • Presenters will be limited to a maximum of 3 PowerPoint slides, exclusive of the title slide.
  • No Prezi or other presentation formats will be permitted.
  • Embedding of audio and/or video clips is allowed (clips may contain animation).
  • No PowerPoint animations are allowed (see PowerPoint animation tab).
  • All work on the slides must be original to the student and cannot be generated by a professional. Images must be properly attributed.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • All presentations will be pre-loaded on the laptop on the day of the competition. You will be required to email your PowerPoint presentations to no later than 9:00 a.m. PST one day prior to your scheduled competition.
  • Props are allowed, but need to be cleared by the program coordinators, require minimal set-up, and not produce a mess.
  • The room will be set-up with a laptop, projector, remote slide advancer, and laser pointer.


Timing will commence from the moment the student begins her/his presentation. The presentation begins at the moment the student engages with the audience (if s/he starts with a hand clap, a gesture, an audio or video clip or any other such engagement, prior to speaking, the clock begins at that time; if there is no such engagement the clock starts when the student begins speaking). Points will be deducted from the final score, beginning with one point at 3:03, and one point being taken off for every two seconds the speaker continues after that.


PowerPoint Template

Please make sure to use the UCI GradSlam PowerPoint template, available here.

Campus Resources

Bri McWhorter from Activate to Captivate will be hosting public speaking workshops in advance of the semi-finals and will provide coaching to our campus finalists. She successfully coached our 2015 campus winner, Ashley Fong, as she won the systemwide competition.

Public Speaking Workshops: TBD

The Graduate Resource Center offers several events intended to boost participants' communications skills.

Online Resources
How to Talk like TED by Carmine Gallo, Article by Guy Kawasaki
How to Give a TED-Worthy Talk by Dorie Clark, Forbes
10 Tips on How to make Slides that Communicate your Idea, by TED Staff
10 Most Common Rookie Mistakes in Public Speaking by Terry Gault, Managing Partner and Vice President of the Henderson Group
Giving an Academic Talk by Jonathan Shewchuk, Associate Professor in Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley
Giving Oral Presentations from English Communication for Scientists by Jean-luc Doumont (ed.), Nature (2010)
Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
Making the Most of Your Three Minutes for 3MT: The Three Minute Thesis by Simon Clews, Director, Writing Centre, University of Melbourne
10 Hints for Improving Presentations for the Three Minute Thesis Competition by Danielle Fischer, Charles Darwin University
Top Ten Tips for Writing and Delivering Very Brief Speeches by Bill Cole, Founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants

Need some inspiration?

TED Talks (up to 6 minutes in length): Brief talks on "ideas worth spreading."

PhD Comics Two-Minute Thesis: PhD Comics challenged graduate students to explain their work in two minutes – the best have been turned into videos!

3 Minute Thesis Competition Winners: Winning presentations from a multi-university thesis competition in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the South Pacific.

2014 University of Western Sidney Three-Minute Thesis Finals

Previous Grad Slam videos

UC San Diego 2014 Grad Slam
UC Santa Barbara 2014 Grad Slam Finals

Grad Slam Photobar