Now you are a “poster presenter” – not only are you an attendee at a conference, but you have taken the time to put together a “call for posters” reply and it was accepted. First of all, congratulations for getting your thoughts and body of research in front of a peer audience! This most likely included an abstract and information about you and your background.
So, now what? What comes next? If you’ve never done this, the process can be very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Identifying the constraints and limits of what you’re allowed to put together should be clear up front by the conference presenters. This process could basically be called a science fair for adults, and yes, your poster needs to rock with a market strategy if anyone is going to take a moment to check it out and care about it.
The following is a list of tips for the amateur or expert poster presenter to consider when putting a poster together.
Tip #1: Abstracts should contain something the conference audience would care about, not just the poster presenter.
- Problem Statement
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then your poster idea probably isn’t ready for your audience:
- Why do we care about this problem?
- What are you doing about it?
- What was the result?
- What are the implications?
- How are you using this data learned?
Tip #2: Find the best software to meet your needs.
Figure out how big your poster needs to be and the best software to use to make it. MS Power Point works very well if you find a template. You have to zoom in to work on the design elements, but the product looks great when put together properly.
Tip #3: Plan your printer ahead of time.
Know where you’re going to have your poster printed. Use a great paper quality, and you probably should forgo lamination so you can roll it up for travel.
Tip #4: Plan your backing board.
Find out if they will be supplying backing board, and if not, purchase the backing board and have it delivered to the hotel where you are staying. Sometimes, conferences will give you some wall space, but you don’t want to be that person who looks unprepared.
Tip #5: Plan how you will attach the poster to the backing board.
Purchase backing board velcro tabs that stick one side to the other. Put them on the backing board first and use a friend to lay the poster on top and slowly rest your poster on top. Do not remove your poster until after the conference. You can roll up the poster and leave the tabs on for reuse if desired.
Tip #6: Know how you will travel with your poster.
Chances are that you may be on an airplane to get to the conference, so this is a definite consideration. Don’t forget to purchase a poster tube for travel! Plastic ones (approx. $25 from amazon for one that also telescopes for larger sizes) protect more against elements, and often come with a strap, which makes it easier for travel, as well.
Tip #7: Know how your poster will be displayed.
Easel stability matters. Find out if the conference location will be providing easels or purchase a collapsible one that is easy to travel with for about $16 from Amazon. I thought adding brochures and business cards to one of the legs under the poster would be a great way for people to literally take something away from the poster.
Tip # 8: Choose great eye-catching colors and stick to a theme.
If you’re supporting a school or college, considering using their colors. If it’s a business, consider playing off of the logo colors.
Tip #9: Use friendly fonts, and please not too many different ones.
Nothing appeals less to a poster visitor than blurry content, or something you cannot read.
Tip #10: Font sizes matter.
How far back from your poster should average vision people be able to read your large content or your smallest text? Consider this when creating text space on your poster.
Tip # 11: Use graphs and pictures to illustrate points.
People are visual and thats what a poster should be! If it doesn’t appeal to you and your friends, then why would it appeal to anyone else?
Tip #12: Be bold and make your poster interactive
QR Codes are pretty fun to play with and send poster viewers to a website or survey. You could be even more amazing (if your crowd was a little tech-savvy) and you directed them to download a free Augmented Reality (AR) App and have parts of your poster come alive! This may require some extra funding on your end, but AR is DEFINITELY coming!
Tip #13: Stand next to your poster so you can discuss it with visitors
This may not always be possible, but at conference break times and when people are up and looking at posters, try to be there to answer questions and show how committed you are to the content.
Tip #14: Do research on YouTube
There are tons of video ideas that will spark your creativity and help you get the most effective message across to your visitors.
Best of luck on your project, and feel free to send a picture of your poster! Here’s a recent pic from a Center for Patient Safety Conference in St. Louis, MO, of a poster depicting the research Dr. Klein and I have been doing.
Note the QR codes, brochures and business cards.