Delivering a Poster Presentation

Poster presentations can be an excellent way to share research findings and the format of poster sessions has several advantages.  Presenters are able to engage with the audience in an interactive setting that allows them to get feedback and network with other scholars.  Poster sessions also have the potential to reach a larger number of people.  An appealling poster that is done correctly is the first step in drawing in the audience.  However, while the poster serves as a visual aid or illustration of the work, the poster session is really an opportunity for the researcher to personally educate others about the research findings.
Tips on Delivering the Presentation
  • Prepare and practice a 2-3 minute oral explanation of your poster and your work.
  • Do not read the poster to the audience!  The poster is there as a visual aid and illustration of the research.  The presenter should be making eye contact and engaging with the audience.
  • The presentation should explain the big picture and why the project is important.  It should provide a "take home" message.  Too much detail will lose the audience.
  • Refer to graphics/charts/data on the poster to illustrate and support findings and conclusions.
  • Do give the audience some time to absorb the information on your poster.  Do not stand directly in front of the poster so that they a full opportunity to view it. 
  • Prepare a summary handout so that people will remember the highlights of your work.  Be sure to include full contact information in the handout.
  • Know your poster well so you can refer to any section if questions arise.
  • Expect questions!  Questions may be very broad asking about the overall project or they may be specific, such as asking about the type of statistical analysis used.  Be prepared!
  • Admit when you do not know the answer to a question or when it is beyond the scope of the project.
  • Have business cards, summary handouts, or contact information ready for those who may want to contact you to discuss it further at a later date.
Tips on Professional Behavior
  • Dress professionally.  It lends credibility to your work. Wear comfortable shoes as you will be standing for long periods of time.
  • Wear your nametag, smile and make eye contact with potential viewers.
  • Be on time for the poster session and stay until the session is over.
  • Stay next to your poster so that you are available for discussion.
  • Do not get too in depth with any one viewers or others will not have an opportunity to learn about your research and ask questions.
  • Do not take criticism personally. The ability to get feedback is an advantage of a poster session.  This may be especially helpful if you plan to submit a manuscript for publication.
  • Focus on the viewers.  Do not get involved in social conversations with other presenters and colleagues at the expense of the audience.
  • Do not force handouts on those that do not seem interested.
The poster presentation is an excellent way to disseminate your research findings. A well-designed poster, a polished presentation and professional behavior will give you the opportunity to educate others and share your work.