Poster Presentations: What Are They & Top Tips for Preparing a Good Poster

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When are posters used?

Poster presentations are a way of explaining your research interests at large conferences. They are used mostly in scientific and sometimes social science subject areas. The humanities poster presentation is very rare.

Poster presentations are a different way of communicating your ideas compared to the oral presentation or the published paper. But they are just as important, so you must dedicate some time to the design of your poster.

The idea is that you attract other scholars interested in a similar research area who might want to discuss your work with you or even collaborate in the future. Your next job might even come from a discussion about your poster!

Here are some tips on preparing a good poster


1) Think about your audience

If you have a specific purpose in mind then you need to make this clear before you start. If you just want to convey information about your research then that is fine, but you probably will also want to look for collaborators or even impress a particular person or group of people. Is the conference going to be attended by specialists or non-specialists? You will want to vary the tone used on your poster depending on the answer to this question.

2) Think image not text

A poster should not contain too much text. Of course you have to write in enough detail to be able to convey some complex research ideas, but the visual impact of your poster is important too.

3) Make it readable from some distance away 

Presentation is everything with a poster. You need to sell yourself in a visually attractive way. Make sure that your name is prominent but that it doesn’t dominate your poster. Choose an appealing colour scheme and font that enables observers to easily read your work from some distance away. Think of ways you can make your poster unique. Do not overdo the colour and text: white space is important too. Like an artist, you must think about how your readers’ eyes will move over the poster. Think how to ‘signpost’ so that they see your information in the correct order. 

4) Choose the right research question 

Your poster should aim to answer one particular question, not to discuss your entire research history. Picking the right question is important; you want to be able to offer definitive, original answers to it. 

5) Present your information logically 

Your poster should have information on your hypothesis, your results and your conclusion. As with a published paper, ensure that your scientific method is rigorous and justifiable. 

6) Be present at the poster session 

During the conference some time will be set aside for delegates to view the posters. Make sure you are present at that session so that anyone who wishes to ask you questions about your work is able to do so. However, don’t be too forceful. If someone wants to study your poster quietly to learn about your work, don’t bother them with lots of questions!

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