Presenting posters and leading the conversation in a poster session can be intimidating. However, there are some very simple things that you can do to help yourself get through what can be a challenging experience. Richard Threlfall, Managing Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, gives you some tips on how to plan and design an outstanding poster and how you can make sure that you present your poster like a pro.
Designing Your Poster
Now that you’ve assembled all the content for your poster, you have to think about the layout. A poster is, of course, a very visual presentation, but you have to strike the right balance between making a memorable impression and not overwhelming the viewer.
At all times in the design process, consider how your poster will look from about a meter away from it. Leave sufficient space between the sections so that it doesn’t look overcrowded, but avoid leaving too much space as this will make it look as if something is missing. Don’t feel you need to cram in postal addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, university crests, and so on, because very few people will actually read this. Just make sure you have your name, your institution, and your email address, maybe with a group website if you have one, clearly visible, as this will be your main method of contact after the conference.
When people look at a poster, they want to be able to get the general idea without having to read a large chunk of written text. Therefore, relatively large font sizes will make text clear for the viewer, and will also help you to control the amount of text you include because you simply won’t have enough space to write too much. Large font sizes also help if you want to consider taking smaller copies of your poster to the conference as handouts, the benefits of which will be considered in more detail in next month’s tips.
Simple and consistent use of color will help guide the viewer through your story, so use color carefully to highlight the most important parts of the poster and help the viewer pick out what’s significant. If you use too many colors, the message of the poster can get lost in the decoration. Numbering your sections can also be a useful navigational aid, and choose a light background with dark colors for your text, as this is much easier to read than light text on a dark background.
Although not strictly necessary, a color scheme that is coordinated with other people from your group or department who are presenting at the same conference can give your posters a professional touch. This can also make your group and/or institution much more memorable to a viewer.
Most Eye-catching Area
Another useful tip is that people tend to focus on the things they see between their chest and waist height when they walk past something, so you should put your most important and most eye-catching content in this area of your poster. Remember to then hang your poster at the appropriate height too! This will help the viewer to see the most important results easily, even if you’re not presenting your poster at the time they happen to walk by. Therefore, your poster can be hard at work showing off all your great work at the times when you can’t be there to do it yourself.
Also of interest:
- Wonderlab Comic – Poster Session,
ChemViews Mag. 2012.
Ever struggled to engage a student in a conversation at a poster session? Wonderlab explores some of the reasons why
- Tips for Writing Better Science Articles