A poster session provides you with an opportunity to share your accomplishments and share your research findings with the audience. The major benefit of a poster session is that the audience determines the speed at which the material is viewed. Your poster will be on display throughout the conference however, a specific poster session time will be designated and you will be expected to be present at your poster to discuss your project with viewers. If more that one presenter plans to participate, you should select a lead presenter for the group and/or designate specific roles ahead of time.
Suggestions for Planning and Organization – Focus on the problem, hypothesis (optional), methodology, results, discussion, summary, and references. The poster should flow from left to right and top to bottom in either portrait or landscape format. Numbering the individual panels or connecting them with arrows is a standard “guidance system”. Leave some open space in the design to allow the eye a resting period. Suggested layout as follows:
Sketch it out! Make a sketch of the poster,
Place the elements of the poster in position:
- The title will appear at the top of both boards
- A brief introduction (3 – 5 sentences) will appear at the upper left
- The conclusions will appear at the lower right
- Methods and Results will fill the remaining space
Keep it simple – Don’t crowd too much information into the session; concentrate on two or three main points. Five critical elements for poster readability:
- Sentence length – keep it short
- Word length – use to-the-point words
- Sentence structure – simple sentence structure
- Degree of abstraction – moderate to low degree of abstraction
- Commonness of words – use common words, not jargon
Suggested Font Sizes – Text should be readable from five feet away. Use a minimum font size of 18 points. Lettering for the title should be large (at least 70-point font). Use all capital letters for the title.
- Present numerical data in the form of graphs, rather then tables (graphs make trends in the data much more evident). If data must be presented in table-form, KEEP IT SIMPLE
- Make sure that any visual can “stand alone” (i. e., graph axes are properly labeled, maps have north arrows and distance scales, symbols are explained, etc.)
- Use color to enhance comprehension, not to decorate the poster. Neatly coloring black-line illustrations with color pencils is entirely acceptable
- Make sure that the text and the visuals are integrated. Figures should be numbered consecutively according to the order in which they are first mentioned in the text. Each visual should have a brief title
- Keep the text brief. Blocks of text should not exceed three paragraphs (viewers won’t bother to read more than that). Use text to (a) introduce the study (what hypothesis was tested or what problem was investigated? why was the study worth doing?), (b) explain visuals and direct viewers’ attention to significant data trends and relationships portrayed in the visuals, and (c) state and explain the interpretations that follow from the data. In many cases, conclusions can be summarized in a bullet-point list
- Depending upon the stage or nature of your project, the text could also include sections on future research plans or questions for discussion with viewers
- Cite and reference any sources of information other than your own, just as you would do with a research paper. The “References Cited” is placed at the end of the poster
Production of the Poster
- Research posters are prepared using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Pagemaker, CorelDraw, Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Powerpoint. For best quality, use a poster preparation software that is capable of saving directly to a PDF file. However, we encourage you to use software that you feel the most comfortable using for preparing your poster(s). Please keep in mind the following:
- When saving/exporting to a PDF file, DO NOT link to any graphics or images. Instead be sure that your graphics and images are embedded
Presentation – Conference participants will want to hear a brief (1-3 minutes) summary of your research and your poster
- Dress professionally
- Rehearse your presentation before the poster session
- Do not read your poster verbatim
- Be prepared to answer questions about your project
- Do not worry about having an answer for every question. Unexpected questions can point you to new directions for your Research and uncertainties can elicit feedback, insights, and helpful suggestions from others
When visitors arrive at your poster, make eye contact and welcome them. Ask if they would like to take a moment to look over your poster, or if they would like you to walk them through it. If they prefer to look over your poster, wait until they have a chance to read it and then ask if they have any questions or comments. If they would like you to walk them through it, ask what aspect is of most interest to them so you can focus on that.
If new visitors arrive while you are in conversation, acknowledge their presence and invite them to join in the discussion or to take a moment to look over your poster and then let you know if they have any questions.
Other Useful Suggestions
- SIMPLICITY IS THE KEY. Keep to the point, and don’t try to cover too many things. Present only enough data to support your conclusions. On the other hand, make sure that you present sufficient data to support your conclusions
- Design the poster to answer one central question. State the question clearly in the poster, then use your discussion time with individuals to expand or expound upon issues surrounding that central theme
- Provide an explicit take home message
- When you begin to make your poster, first create a list of the visuals that you would use if you were describing your project with only the visuals. Write the text after you have created the list of visuals
- Mat the components of the poster on separate pieces of colored poster paper. This sets-off the text and illustrations from the background. You should easily be able to attach each section to the bulletin board with thumb-tacks
- Before the poster session, rehearse a brief summary of your project. Many viewers will be in a hurry and will want a quick “guided tour” of your poster. Don’t be afraid to point out uncertainties in your work; this is where you may get useful feedback
- Do not wander too far away from your poster during the session; be available for discussion!