3-Ideas Presentation

Last updated: Aug 30, 2021 at 8:09pm

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The 3-ideas presentation is a critical step in the process of choosing a direction for your team's project. The milestone, with 45 second pitches for each idea, takes place during lecture time, as indicated in the syllabus. Each section is allocated 2 minutes 20 seconds for three ideas.

This milestone is intended to help you learn how to prepare a 'clean' poster and describe a product idea in a very short amount of time—roughly the amount of time you might have to pitch a new idea to an executive when you see her while riding in an elevator. Hence, this type of presentation is called an "elevator pitch". If you are not completely at ease in this type of presentation, it is a great chance to practice.

During the presentation you will also be able to see other ideas that classmates are considering.


Your section will prepare 3 posters illustrating your section's three best ideas for a project. These should include both ideas derived from your own brainstorming and inspired by the idea fair.

Each idea poster should include a simple sketch and key talking points, such as potential customers, market, and technical feasibility assessment— all readable from 50-80 feet away. At a glance, a viewer should 'get the idea.' Also, on the back attach an 8.5"x11" sheet with supporting estimations, calculations, and data sources/citations for any quantitative information that is on the poster.

We recommend using Adobe Illustrator to design your poster, or a similar vector-based program! Every MIT student has full access to Adobe Create Suite through MIT. The license requests are processed once daily, so be sure to apply for your license early! LinkedIn learning has excellent tutorials (MIT has a membership). The 2.s009 computers in your team meeting area also have Illustrator installed on them. You may also want to review the sketching tutorials and/or practice sketching.

6 sheets of foamcore (3 sheets for each section) will be made available to your team in the lab facilities. Use the foamcore that we provide so all posters are the same size (24"x36"). Each idea must be represented on a different sheet. Please lay the posters out in portrait format since fitting all the posters in the classroom is tight and the mounting system is designed for portrait orientation. If your poster is three dimensional, it can be no more than a total of 1.5" thick (in storage configuration). Also, be sure to identify your team and section on the poster.

A few examples from a previous year are provided on the right. You can also view posters from other years in the gallery (select a project and click on the ideas tab).

Remember that clean, simple posters work well. Since the ideas are quite unformed at this time, using gestural sketch-like representations is more appropriate that realistic renderings or models.

In your presentation, you must also identify at least one person/expert that is representative of your potential customer and be confident that they can serve as a resource during the term.

Preparation Logistics

The 3-ideas presentations are scheduled during class.

Please submit your idea poster designs using the student dashboard and the TAs will print them on the plotter. Each task force may upload their own poster.

On Wednesday, September 23, TAs will be available to help with poster design. We highly recommend having a section member bring a draft of your idea posters to your assigned lab period for TA feedback.

Two deadlines for submitting your idea poster design:

  • By Wednesday, September 23, 8PM: if the poster design is submitted by around this time, it will be available for your team members to mount on the foam core during your team's Thursday lab access period.
  • By Thursday, September 23, 8PM: final call for idea posters! The TAs will plot and mount your posters on foam core and they will bring the posters to 10-250 for the 3-ideas presentation.

Poster mounting is a handy skill to have, so we encourage your team to submit the posters for the earlier deadline, if possible, so that some team members can learn how to mount posters on Thursday.

Your section should have one, two, or three presenters prepared to give 45 second summaries of the ideas. An equal amount of time should be devoted to each idea.

A two-minute 20 second time limit will be strictly enforced for each section (includes 5 seconds for up to 2 speaker transitions) — so if one presenter uses all two minutes 20 seconds for one idea, there will be no time to present the other ideas from your section! Your communication instructor will be happy to help you prepare. Over the term we would like everyone on your team to present at least once. If you are not sure about your public speaking, the 3-ideas presentation is a good opportunity for you.

View the 3-ideas praction session schedules (class-only).

Day-of Logistics

Please make sure your section's posters and presenters arrive in 10-250 no later than 3:00. They may be dropped off anytime between 2:00-3:00PM. Then you will report to your team's assigned classroom. If you leave them with a TA in Pappalardo/PDL, we will bring them to 10-250 for you. But, if you want to practice with them overnight (e.g., with your communication instructor), you will need to bring them to 10-250.

The presentation order is:

  1. Green A
  2. Green B
  3. Pink A
  4. Pink B
  5. Red A
  6. Red B
  7. Blue A
  8. Blue B
  9. Purple A
  10. Purple B
  11. Yellow A
  12. Yellow B

For the 2nd-6th teams, when the team in front of you starts presenting, the presenters for your team will leave the classroom and walk to the hallway behind 10-250 (by the 2nd door, on the Bldg 13 side). Your TA will let you know when to go. There will be signs around 10-250 directing you to the staging area. You'll be able to watch the livestream of the presentations in the staging area.  After all of the team's presenters have finished, please walk back to your team's classroom. Yellow presenters should stay in 10-250 for the closing remarks.

Classroom assignments:

Red 1-390
Yellow 3-270
Green 10-250
Blue 1-190
Purple 3-370
Pink 26-100


This presentation counts for a portion of your section-specific grade.

After class, the posters will be collected and all team instructors will meet to discuss the 6 ideas presented by your entire team (three from each section). Based upon your work, the instructors will choose a product sub-theme and this will become the entire team's focus for the rest of the term. The sub-themes will be posted on the course website by 8 PM after the review. When making the selection instructors will consider: technical and educational interest; customer needs; project scope; and the product portfolio formed by all 6 teams in the class.

The posters will be photographed and your presentation will be video taped. The materials will be put on the course website, with a review form, and you will receive presentation feedback from instructors over the weekend after the presentations (before your next lab).

Presentation tips

Some additional guidelines are provided below:

  • Look at the audience, not your poster.
  • Don't block your poster.
  • Don't read the poster! Viewers will already see everything on the poster... augment the visual information with speech. Lots of text on a poster is not a good recipe.
  • Avoid cue cards... practice in advance.
  • Think of the presentation as a short story. Telling the story through the viewpoint of the customer can be effective.
  • Do not emulate a 'used-car salesperson' or TV infomercial... this is not appropriate for our professional context. Be honest and informative.
  • Humor is great. However, humor can unintentionally become disrespectful or in bad taste. Just be careful!

A presentation tips video by the communication instructors:

If the embedded video does not play, please try this link

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