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.
Presenting Your Poster
There are two parts to a poster presentation: you and your poster. You’ve probably gone to quite a lot of effort to get your poster to the conference in good shape by printing it on the best quality paper, maybe laminating it, and then carefully bringing it in its tube to the conference venue. But there’s no point in doing all that and then turning up to your poster session in a pair of scruffy jeans and a T-shirt with bags under your eyes from drinking too much at the conference bar the night before!
People come to poster sessions for all sorts of reasons, from killing time in between conference lectures, to looking for new collaborators, or even hunting for new staff and students for their labs. Then, of course, there are usually some poster prizes at most conferences, so the judges will also be looking for outstanding presentations. Therefore, presenting your poster could be an advert for your lab, a pitch for a poster prize, and a job application all rolled into one, so you should treat it as all three.
Leave a Good Impression
Dress smartly but comfortably and smile so that you look approachable. Be polite and professional when talking to people, and be prepared to talk to anyone who shows an interest in your poster. Maintain eye contact and, as for oral presentations, avoid talking to your poster instead of addressing the person.
If you’re really out on the job hunt, you could also take some printed copies of your CV with you, because personal contact with a potential new boss is absolutely invaluable for giving yourself the edge among your competitors.
Poster sessions are only one part of your participation at a conference and you can’t be there with your poster all the time. However, you can still make your poster reach as many people as possible even when you’re not presenting it. People can’t resist taking freebies and handouts at conferences, so the trick is to hang a small envelope or plastic wallet with A4-size copies of your poster for people to take. Consider this when designing your poster so that the content is visible in the smaller version. You can also leave a small container of business cards or even a short list of your relevant publications alongside your poster so people can find out more about your work and, more importantly, how to contact you.
If you do leave things for people to take, then there are two things to remember. Firstly, pins or sticky pads are sometimes in short supply at conferences, so make sure you take enough with you to stick up all the things that you want to. There’s nothing more annoying than preparing all your stuff and having nothing to hang it up with! Secondly, handouts will likely be taken faster than you imagine, so take plenty, put a few out at a time, and refill regularly to guarantee that there’s something on offer for everyone at your poster all the way through the conference.
- Next time: Talking in Poster Sessions: Breaking the Ice (1)
- All Tips for Your Poster
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
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