Check back here soon for more details on the student lightning talk competition at CEW 2022.

TikTox – CEW 2021 student lightning talk competition

Watch the CEW 2021 TikTox here: YouTube Link

Instead of the usual CEW adapted 3MT presentation competition, we have modified the rules to create our very own competition this year called TikTox! This is a unique challenge for students to be clear and concise in their science communication.

This year CEW invites all BSc, MSc, and PhD student attendees presenting a poster or platform in-person or virtually to also compete in our TikTox competition. The topic can be the same as the content in the platform or poster presentation, or about their thesis topic in general. Due to the hybrid nature of CEW 2021, all Tik Talks will be pre-recorded, judged online by non-students, and played live for all attendees during the Wednesday lunch hour. 

All students interested in competing are encouraged to apply for the competition when completing their CEW registration including a tentative title and 5 keywords. Due to time constraints, a maximum of 10 presentations will be allowed, with candidates selected by the CEW Program Committee (should more than 10 apply).


  • 3-minute presentation maximum
  • 3 slides maximum
  • Animations allowed (3/slide or maximum of 9 for the whole presentation. Animation is defined as the movement, appearance, or disappearance of an image/video/object on a slide.)
  • All TikTox presentations will be pre-recorded but the recordings will be played live during the last day of CEW 2021
  • Judging will take place ahead of time using a standardized rubric. There will also be a live audience vote after the TikTox are played live

If you are interested in participating in the TikTox competition, make sure to select it on the registration form. If you are still unsure, please refer to the “Reasons to do a TikTox” below!

Judging criteria

(subject to change, but the final criteria will be sent out to participants and judges ahead of time)

  1. Was the background to the research question conveyed in a manner appropriate for a non-specialist audience?
  2. Was the information presented in a clear and logical manner?
  3. Were the key results and conclusions clearly described?
  4. Did the student make good use of the 3 minutes, without going too far under or over the time limit?
  5. Did the student capture and maintain the audience’s attention?
  6. Did the student have good presentation skills (pace, vocal range) and enthusiasm for their research?
  7. Were the supporting visuals clear, legible and concise, and did they enhance the presentation?
  8. Was there sufficient creativity in the presentation?

Tips & tricks for TikTox template

  • Breakdown your presentation into 3 main parts:
    • Introduction/background/context
    • Method/materials
    • Results/conclusions/implications or significance
  • Introduction/background content
    • Why was your research needed?
    • Any essential information on the background for your experiment?
    • What is your main question?
  • Method/materials
    • How did you go about answering your question?
    • Field survey, laboratory experiment, preliminary research?
  • Results/conclusions/implications
    • What is the answer to your main question?
    • Discuss the evidence and main findings
    • What do your findings mean for the future or the current situation? Relate this back to the background to your research.
    • Be clear and concise!
      • Avoid jargon, acronyms, and academic language
      • Present as if you were presenting to your friend or someone in a different field of biology

Reasons to do a TikTox

Unsure if you want to try TikTox? Read this and think again…

It’s nerve-wracking to stand up at the front and “memorize” 3 minutes.

  • This year all TikTox’s are pre-recorded. That means: no scary audience, judgement-free zone, and you can keep recording your presentation until it’s perfect.

It’s my first time presenting and I just don’t know how to condense everything into 3-minutes.

  • We got you! Refer to the “TikTox Template” above.
  • If this is the first time you’re thinking of doing this kind of presentation (very short…) this is the perfect opportunity to try a new way of presenting that is a very high reward, low risk situation.

I’m already doing a presentation and/or poster. I think also doing TikTox will be too much work.

  • If you’re already doing a presentation and/or poster, you already have the material! All you have to do is extract all the main points from your presentation/poster for the TikTox. It will be a pre-recorded video, so all the work can be done before the conference begins!

The rules are too strict.

  • Rules are a bit more relaxed this year…instead of the typical 3-minute presentation using one slide and no animations, you can now have up to three slides and animations are encouraged!

TikTox is on the last day after the banquet.

  • This year, all TikTox presentations will be pre-recorded, so if you do participate you do not have to worry about exerting energy after a big banquet on the last day of the conference…just sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

I’m worried about not being able to oversimplify and/or sensationalize my research.

  • This is not a TED talk. Do not worry about making your science the “sexiest”. The goal is to be able to communicate your research in a short amount of time. There is no pressure to blow people’s minds with your research. It is already really cool and people just want to hear about it!

What do I get out of it?

  • Experience
  • Networking opportunities
  • A unique challenge to overcome
  • An extra line on your CV for participation
  • A chance at winning a cash prize

Tips adapted from:

Mastering the Art of the Five-Minute Presentation, by Darrell Zahorsky https://www.thebalancesmb.com/mastering-the-art-of-the-5-minute-presentation-2951697

The importance of being concise, by Susan V. Fisk (2021 ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting) https://www.acsmeetings.org/submit/rapidfire/