The Big Pitch, CGU’s 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, challenges our graduate students to concisely convey the significance and sophistication of their research to a non-specialist audience. A powerful way to develop and showcase student academic, presentation, and research communication skills, the competition is a fast-paced and fun event that highlights the innovative and dynamic work being done across the CGU graduate student community.

The Big Pitch is a 3-minute/1-slide presentation. Competitors are required, given the time and slide constraints, to condense their research area, question, and analysis—along with why it matters—to only the most vital and engaging parts. The audience is made up of students, staff, faculty, and alumni from across the University, so participants must translate their research for a diverse, non-specialist audience in a way that does not render it superficial. Over the course of a preliminary round and a final round, students will be evaluated by a panel of faculty, staff, alumni, and community members on how well they present in terms of comprehension and content as well as engagement and communication.

The Process

All prospective competitors must register by the registration deadline. All registrants must submit their PowerPoint slide (using The Big Pitch PowerPoint Template) and the link to their prerecorded pitch that has been uploaded to a personal YouTube account to by the deadline. Slides must follow The Big Pitch 2020 Presentation Requirements or they will not be accepted. All registered participants compete in the preliminary round by submitting their prerecorded video. Winners of the first round advance to the finals!

All competitors will be assessed by panels of judges comprised of CGU faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. All presentations will be judged based on The Big Pitch Judging Rubric.

*Students can compete more than once. Participants are allowed to enter over multiple years as long as they are active CGU students.


  1. Due to safety considerations, the Big Pitch 2020 is virtual. 
  2. Competitors will submit a PDF file of their PowerPoint slide(s) and a prerecorded video link. 
  3. Competitors are responsible for posting their video to a personal YouTube account. Files sent in other formats will not be accepted. 
  4. All videos will be posted on the Big Pitch website for Qualifying Round judging.
  5. A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description). This can be visible continuously, or ‘cut to’ (as many times as you like) for a maximum of 1 minute. 
  6. A single title slide is also allowed (but not required). 
  7. Presentations are considered to have begun when a presenter starts their pitch through speech (timing does not include a Big Pitch title slide—it begins when the competitor starts speaking, not necessarily the start of the video). 
  8. The PowerPoint slide cannot be changed between rounds. 
  9. Competitors that reach the final round may record a new video between rounds. 
  10. The presentation must be filmed: (1) horizontally; (2) on a plain or mostly plain background; (3) from a static position; and, (4) from a single camera angle. 
  11. The 3 minutes of audio must be continuous—no sound edits or breaks. 
  12. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted. 
  13. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted. 
  14. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified. 
  15. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs). 
  16. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final. 

Judging Criteria

During both the preliminary and final rounds, each participant will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension & Content

  1. Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  2. Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  3. Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
    Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact, and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  4. Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  1. Did the presentation make the audience want to know more?
    Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  2. Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  3. Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?


One-on-One Appointments:

Schedule a 15 minute one-on-one appointment with our Big Pitch Communications Specialist, Matthew Higgins, to answer any questions you have and help you prepare for the Big Pitch. Prospective participants can meet with him as many times as they like to develop their pitches:

Matthew is a doctoral student in Positive Organizational Psychology. He received his MA in Intercultural Communication and BA in Interpersonal Communication from the University of New Mexico. At UNM, Matthew taught public speaking, introduction to communication, and nonverbal communication. For the Anderson School of Management, Matthew worked as a public speaking specialist coaching competitive speaking groups, conducting workshops, and working with students one-on-one.

Matthew also hosts weekly drop-in hours on Thursdays and Fridays from 1-3 pm PST to help you with any aspect of your Big Pitch project:

Writing Consultants at the Center for Writing & Rhetoric can help you develop, revise, & practice your presentation. Schedule an appointment!


Visit our YouTube Playlist for recordings of all of our webinars!

  • Big Pitch Information Session: Monday, September 28th from 12-1 p.m. Learn all about the event from the changes for the virtual format to the rules for participation and criteria the judges use to assess the pitches to the structure of the preliminary and final rounds. We will also discuss all the deadlines, the dates for the series of preparative webinars being offered, and how to take advantage of all the support programs put in place for the event.
  • Big Pitch Strategies: Tuesday, October 6th from 4-5 p.m. Preparing a presentation that is limited to one slide and three minutes to a non-specialist audience is a unique challenge; doing that on a complex topic that is meant to be condensed but not dumbed down is even more so! This webinar will address of number of helpful strategies in approaching this rhetorical situation, from the use of narratives or themes to structure key ideas to how to insert real-life examples to how much technical information is appropriate.
  • Humanities Forum on the Big Pitch: Wednesday, October 14th from 12-1 p.m. At first glance, it might not appear that work in the Humanities or the Arts is a good fit for the format and culture of 3-Minute Thesis competitions like the Big Pitch. With our Big Pitch, we are actively trying to shift that idea and make the event an opportunity to showcase projects from across all departments at CGU. In this forum for Humanities and Art students, learn some starting points for how to talk about your art, historical analysis, cultural and literary critique, and more for the Big Pitch!
  • Big Pitch PowerPoint Slides: Tuesday, October 20th from 12-1 p.m. Given the parameters of the Big Pitch, your single PowerPoint should not be designed in the same way you would typically design a slide. Too much information will distract attention from you, and too little might give the impression that you do not have a lot to say. Learn some ideas for how to find a middle ground and create a great complement to your presentation.
  • Presentation Skills: To be determined.
  • Big Pitch Strategies & PowerPoint Slides: Thursday, November 5th from 12-1:30 p.m. Key elements of both of the strategies and PowerPoint slide webinars combined into one!
  • How to Deliver a Pitch or New Idea in a Class or for a Research Project Part 1: Friday, October 9th from 7-10 p.m. This workshop is designed for international students to facilitate understanding of the concept of a “pitch” and practice their delivery. By “pitch”, we are referring to a process in which a student succinctly describes and delivers a new idea in a class or for a research topic. Even though this webinar pairs with the Big Pitch, international students who do not plan on entering the contest should attend to practice delivering ideas to advisors, professors, and classmates. Some of the ideas covered will be: What a Pitch Is, and Why We Do It; A Research Pitch: Why It’s Important; Identifying the Essence of an Idea and Summarizing Effectively (Studying other international student pitches for the Big Pitch); Knowing Your Audience; and, Delivery: Body Language and Elements of Speech. To register, email
  • How to Deliver a Pitch or New Idea in a Class or for a Research Project Part 2: Friday, October 30th from 7-10 p.m. Part 2 is a continuation of the webinar above with time to practice your presentation for the Big Pitch. To register, email

The Big Pitch Canvas Site

Email us at to get access to The Big Pitch Canvas page.

Video Resources

3MT Asia Pacific Finals 2018 – Yasmin Mustapha Kamil – Winner & PC from Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) on Vimeo.

Alex Wrede – 1st Place Winner from ISUCALS on Vimeo.

Notre Dame Three Minute Thesis: Maria Gibbs from ND Graduate Career Services on Vimeo.