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.
Who Are You Dealing With?
So you’ve exchanged some pleasantries with your poster viewer, but now the focus turns to the science. At the outset of a poster presentation, it’s a good idea to ask someone that you don’t know what their scientific background is, especially at large general conferences where people from many different disciplines are likely to be present. This way you know whether you have to start right at the top with some general background to your project, or you can dive right into the details.
For a person with specialist knowledge of your subject, you should concentrate on the more technical parts of the poster, such as the things you know to be great challenges in the field that you have overcome with this work, or common techniques that you may have been able to improve during your research. For a person who is not a specialist, then finding out their background is even more important, because launching into a detailed description of, for example, organic reaction conditions, is probably not so interesting if the person standing in front of you is a physicist!
Avoid Reciting and Give Full Attention
What you should avoid at all costs is reciting the entire story of your poster like a script in great detail to every person that passes by. This is likely to be boring for you as well as the listener, and if you are bored, then you’re not likely to be presenting your work in an enthusiastic manner. Try to identify what each person finds most interesting about your work and focus on that.
You can usually only talk to one person at a time, so if you’re already talking to someone and another person is showing interest while you’re talking, a valuable thing to do is to very briefly acknowledge the next interested party with a short “I’ll be with you in just a minute”, so that they know you are interested in talking to them and they will stay around or perhaps come back a little later when your current conversation has finished. If you’re going to do this, make sure you apologize to the person you were already talking to and give them your full attention for the remainder of their conversation with you. Only when the first person has gone should you move on to the next person. This strategy gives you the power to control the flow of people at your poster and has the added advantage of giving you the appearance of a pro presenter, even if it’s only your first poster session.
- Next month: Talking in Poster Sessions: Answering Questions (3)
- 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
- Tips for Writing Better Science Articles