Talking in Poster Sessions: Impressing Poster-Prize Judges (4)

Talking in Poster Sessions: Impressing Poster-Prize Judges (4)

Author: Richard Threlfall

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.


Spotting the Prize Judge

If there’s one person you can be assured will come and talk to you during your poster session, it is your assigned poster-prize judge. The prize judges are generally very easy to spot because they’ll have pen and paper with them to write down their notes, they’ll usually head directly for your poster, and they won’t hesitate to start a discussion. Judges are sometimes assigned a few posters in the same area as you, so they’ll be having detailed conversations with some of the other presenters around you.

This is something to keep a watch for when you have a few quiet moments at your poster. At the majority of conferences, the judges are also chosen from the invited speakers, so again, pay attention in the conference lectures!


Know Your Judge

How familiar you are with the judges personally will naturally vary with your field of research and with the size of the conference. Look carefully at name badges and if you don’t know the judge, ask about their scientific background. This will allow you to put your work into a better context and give you more chance to show your knowledge of your project.

The cynics among you might also be tempted to suggest that discussing any of the judge’s own work that happens to be relevant to your poster could be very advantageous in the judging process. While I couldn’t possibly recommend the use of anything other than your outstanding scientific knowledge and presenting charisma to win the judge’s admiration, I will leave you to decide for yourself the relevance of the saying “flattery gets you everywhere”!

After you’ve got to know the judge a little, here’s where your clever poster design takes over. As I wrote about previously (Planning Your Poster), if you’ve thought ahead, then as well as clear and almost self-explanatory content, you’ll have left a couple of “leads” for questions. The expert judges will spot the opportunity to ask the technical question and go straight for it, at which point you can impress them with your fluent answer. Judges with more general knowledge about the area may not identify these gaps right away, so this leaves you with more scope to expand your description of your work by pointing out the subtleties.


Visual Reminder

Lastly, if you’ve read the previous Tips on Poster Presentations, then you’ll have come well-prepared with handouts and business cards to the conference. Don’t be shy and offer the judge a handout. When they’re looking through their notes later on, they may come across your handout and get a powerful visual reminder of what a great presentation you gave. This is sure to go a long way to getting that conference poster prize safely in the bag!

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