Creating Poster Presentations
- A Powerful Communication Tool
- Poster Design
- Delivery: Presenting your Poster
Poster presentations are an extremely powerful method of communicating research. Researchers summarize their work, present it in a visually-appealing printed poster, and briefly explain their research to an audience.
Poster presentations require a considerable amount of advanced planning. You must consider the poster’s purpose, audience, and emphasis as these factors influence content and format.
- Purpose: The purpose of your presentation is to clearly convey the “take-home” message of your research. You also want to encourage your audience to comment on and ask questions about your work.
- Audience: You will likely present your poster at a conference or in a class, so your audience is generally familiar with your field of study. However, if you present to the public, you may need to offer more background or focus on the application of your research.
- Emphasis: Determine the most important aspects of your research that will help your audience to understand your project. Your message must be clear and focused.
A poster is a visual presentation of your research, so be sure that the content of your poster reflects your work. Generally, your poster will focus on the results and implications of your research.
Ask these questions to help you to narrow your focus:
- What was your question? What was the purpose of your research?
- What methods did you use to understand your question?
- What did you learn?
- What do your findings mean? Why is this work interesting or important?
The organization of a poster usually reflects the conventions of your discipline; therefore, a biochemistry poster will generally follow the IMRD structure, but a poster for marketing may emphasize recommendations and include an environmental scan. Include sections that are relevant to your project and your field.
Common Elements of a Poster
- Title: effectively highlight your research in ten words or less
- Names of author[s]: names of contributors and their research affiliation (university)
- Introduction: identify the research problem, the purpose of the project, and define key terms or concepts
- Methods: briefly describe the methods (e.g., materials, procedures, analysis)
- Results: outline the results of your work; use graphs and tables to display your results
- Discussion: succinctly summarize the conclusions from your work as well as its implications and any future directions
- Recommendations/Application: explanation of recommended actions or potential applications discovered in research
- References: cite any sources that you have used; follow the citation style for your discipline
- Acknowledgements: where relevant note funding or host agencies
Consider what information you can best express visually and what needs a text explanation. Figures, tables, and photographs are all appropriate for a poster. Text may be included in short paragraphs or in bulleted lists, where appropriate. Use headings to create structure and support your ability to draw your audience to specific points on your poster.
Place your elements in columns, so that your viewer will first read down one column and then move to the next column to the right. Pay attention to conference guidelines regarding size and format requirements for posters.
Guidelines for creating your poster:
- Aim for a maximum of 1000 words of text (including titles for figures etc.)
- Write short, bulleted phrases, rather than groups of paragraphs
- Use one simple font such as Arial, Helvetica or Times New Roman
- Use appropriate font sizes:
- Main title – 72 point
- Subtitles – 60 point
- Supporting materials – 32 point
- Minimum – 18 point
- Clearly label all visuals
- Use colour sparingly to unify your poster.
- Follow this simple ratio: 20% Text, 40% Visual, 40% white space.
Posters can be created using your computer and readily available software, such as PowerPoint. There are also free research poster templates available online.
One consideration is the cost of printing. Posters maybe printed on large paper at a specialized printing shop, which can be costly; call ahead for a quote. Alternatively, you can print out smaller sections of a poster on standard 8.5 x 11 paper and then neatly attach the pages to a poster board.
With your purpose and audience in mind, be aware of what points you want to emphasize. Prepare a short talk (2 - 3 minutes) that will augment your poster: focus on why your research is important and point to the graphics on your poster as support.
This is your chance to participate in valuable discussion about your research. Many people will just scan your poster, but others will want to engage with you and ask questions. Be ready to answer questions and explain elements of your research, both those that are on the poster and those which are not.
Checklist for the Presentation
- Professional attitude and dress
- Prepared with a short explanation of your research
- Knowledgeable and relaxed enough to be able to engage with your audience without referring to notes or reading the text of the poster
- Ready to answer questions about your research
- Able to initiate discussion
- Prepared to deal with problems that may arise regarding setting up your poster