Last year I was accepted to present a poster at a conference. I didn’t have a clue what this meant…aside from the fact that it must involve a big piece of paper! I did some research and was delighted with the results so I thought I would share my tips with others facing the same challenges:
Step 1: Find some other examples of posters, particularly ones in your field which will help you visualise your finished product:
- Check the conference website in case they have examples of posters from previous years
- Google it (google images has loads!)
- This page from LSE has some useful links to example posters at the bottom…have a good look around
Step 2: Think about your key messages. You are very limited on space so my recommendation would be to use 4-5 powerpoint slides to sketch out what you want to say. You will probably need some kind of introduction and conclusion but these should be brief.
Step 4: Understand the requirements of the conference. Should it be ladscape or portrait? A0/A1/A2? How much should you focus on empirical findings? Read the guidelines carefully.
Step 3: Putting your poster together. Don’t underestimate how long this takes! Looking back at examples you’ve found of “good” posters (clear structure and message, not too cluttered, visually attractive) and test out lots of options. Don’t go overtop with lots of colours but don’t be too bland either. You need to attract the attention of readers from a distance of a metre or two so the font should be right. The LSE site has some great tips on format and software packages for putting posters together. I used powerpoint and found it really useful.
Step 4: Test the effectiveness of your poster. Getting your poster printed at full size is expensive so make sure you test it first. Print it in A4 or A3 so that you can see how it all fits together. Get friends/family/colleagues to read it – is it easy to understand? Check your spelling and grammer!
Step 5: Print your poster. Find out if your University has large printing services, mine didn’t. Local print shops will tend to be more expensive (or they are in London anyway!) so I used PWA UK an online service which was cheap and very fast. The poster was sent in a poster tube, which was very handy for carrying it to the conference, and excellent quality.
Step 6: Presenting your poster. Most posters will be in a large room or corridor where conference participants wonder around, normally during lunchtime, and view the ones that interest them. You should make sure you are available for as much time as possible during this period. People will come and ask you questions (which is less scary than it sounds!) so you should have rehearsed a quick, minute or two, summary of your poster.
Take with you:
- Materials to fix the poster up (they will probably have some there but don’t take risks!)
- Business cards and have them available for people to pick up next to your poster…some people are too shy/busy to ask
- A4 sized print outs of your poster
- If you have a draft paper to go alongside it…take this too and hand it out to interested parties.
These are some other useful website that I used when preparing my poster:
…and finally, in case you’re interested, this is my poster on a qualitative pilot study that I did about motivational experience at work: SDT poster presentation v5.2 – portrait
If anyone else has any useful tips of links do share…