Poster presentations are a great way to show off your hard work, especially if you are just starting out in research.
They are much less stressful than oral presentations, but still provide great networking opportunities and valuable practice at talking about your work.
Tips for Scientific Poster Presentations
Choose your content wisely. The information you can get across on a poster is very limited. Choose a single aspect of your research that you think you can explain fully in a small amount of text and graphics and focus on that alone.
Use PowerPoint to set out your poster. The great thing about this is that your PowerPoint file can be sent directly to the printers for printing when you are done. PosterPresentations.com has some great layouts that will help you. Choose a layout that fits the space allocated to you by the poster session organizer.
Make your layout flow. The flow of your poster should be natural and obvious to the reader. Eposters.net has lots of posters that were deposited there by their authors. Take a look at them (especially the award-winning ones) and work out the type of layouts that you think work well. You could also deposit your finished poster there for others to see.
Avoid the simple, classic mistakes.
Don’t use color schemes that are bold or whacky
Don’t use more than two font types
Don’t use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
Don’t use ridiculous fonts, like Comic Sans
Get the title right. Passersby will look at the title first, so make it as interesting and informative as possible. Use a font that can be read from 10-15 feet away. A font size of around 60-90 point should suffice.
Make your poster visual. Your brilliant title has drawn the attention of the passerby. Now, the passerby thinks, “How long will it take me to read this thing?” To keep their interest, make sure your poster mainly uses figures to tell your story—and avoids large blocks of text. Make your figures visually appealing and self-explanatory. Your passerby will lose interest if they have to read a lot of text to work out what the figure represents.
Edit your text. Then, go back and edit it again. On a poster, text is the enemy. People need to get into your story quickly or they will walk away, so work hard to have as little text as possible. Write the text and then go over it again (and again). Remove anything that is not completely necessary. If you must have text, keep your sentences short and use bullet points.
Leave some space. Don’t cram your poster full of information. Blank space makes the poster seem less complicated and more approachable, which helps attract people to your poster. You can use blank space to accentuate important parts of the poster (e.g., the conclusion). Less is more, as they say.
Get feedback on your poster. Ask a friend to look at your posterbefore you print it, preferably a scientist who is not familiar with the exact subject area. Take on board their comments about the poster’s readability and overall appeal.
Stay at your poster and talk to people. There’s no point in making a great poster and standing in the bar during the poster session. Stay with your poster and offer to talk people through it. Don’t miss this great networking opportunity. If you’re at a conference where you leave your poster up outside of the session, then put your email address on your poster and/or pin your business cards (if you have them) to the poster board. This will allow people can catch up with you later, if you are not around.
For more on how to make a visually appealing poster, check out this video.
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