As part of your degree or when participating in a conference, you may be asked to create and present a poster on your research. This guide aims to explain some general aspects of posters and signpost you to further sources of information and support. However, it is important to remember that if you are creating a poster as part of your degree, you must check your subject’s Moodle site and assessment guidelines (if applicable) to ensure you are fulfilling their requirements. Similarly, each conference will have specific guidelines regarding posters that you need to read carefully. Your tutor may also be able to show you some examples of good posters from your discipline.
This page goes is a step by step guide of what to think about when creating your poster presentation. If you could like to download a PDF copy of it, you can find the attachment below.
What is a poster?
An academic poster is a visual guide to your research. It is a way of sharing information about your work and a springboard to further discussion with your audience.
Why are they a useful way to share research?
Posters are often used in conferences, seminars or exhibitions as a means of sharing different research projects. They allow you to share your research and can even lead to the creation of new contacts within academia. In addition to the benefits of sharing your work publicly, the process of designing, presenting and discussing your poster can help you to reflect on the key aims, rationale and message of your research, as well as improving your verbal communication skills.
What are the most important considerations when creating a poster?
The most important thing to remember when designing your poster is clarity. Your research may be hugely important and compelling, but if you present it in a way that is difficult to read or understand then it will be very challenging to communicate this to your audience. Make sure that you do not cram too much information onto the page. It is impossible to include every detail of your research effectively on a poster, so instead consider the core messages you want to convey or focus on one aspect of your research that most closely relates to the conference type or assessment brief. Mention at what stage of the research process you are at, as it helps to pre-empt the question.
The design of your poster is also essential. Again, clarity and accessibility are vital to this. You need to ensure that your poster is easy to read even from a distance by leaving visual space and ensuring the text is large enough, that the information is structured in a logical order (subheadings can help with this) and that it is visually appealing.
Adding a touch of creativity will also attract an audience, so consider the use of colour and the inclusion of images to make your poster stand out. Remember though that the information is the most important part of the poster and that conveying your research clearly should be the central consideration.
You also need to reflect on who will be your audience. If the poster is intended for non-specialists you will need to ensure that you explain the context and content of your research very clearly, and that you remove unnecessary jargon.
Like many other assignments, a presentation should include:
During your presentation, help your audience follow your thoughts and understand how your ideas link together by giving them verbal cues.
Here are some examples:
“I will begin by discussing…”
“We will draw on 2 key theories…”
“Now I have discussed the methods, I will move on to…”
“This is particularly significant because…”
“In this presentation I aimed to…”
Adapted from Leeds University Poster Presentation’ https://library.leeds.ac.uk/info/1401/academic_skills/130/presentations/5
Would you stop to look at this poster at a poster session?
Is the title short and attention grabbing?
Is the subject matter clear?
Is the layout visually appealing and does it guide the audience?
Is the poster well organised?
Is the poster easy to scan-read?
Is the information and purpose immediately apparent?
Would you read the text on this poster?
Have you considered your audience requirements?
Is the title clear and informative?
Are the aims and conclusions clear?
Is the subject matter clear and concise (text short, content rich)?
Is there a logical flow to the information?
Can you find relevant information easily?
Is the text readable (linguistic difficulty / does it have too much jargon)?
Is the text legible (font, size, colour and spacing)?
Is there too much/little data?
Does the title bar include the authors’ names, and the University identifier?
Are the key graphics large enough to be seen from 3 meters away?
Are the graphics attractive, relevant and appropriate?
Is there adequate clear space?
Are sections clearly defined?
Have items been aligned?
Have you considered: number of graphics, use of colour, font size and type
Adapted from Imperial College London, Poster Presentation, https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/study/graduate-school/public/helpsheets/Poster-presentation-handout---October-2017.pdf
Presentations can be nerve wracking, but the best way to ensure that yours goes well is to practise repeatedly. Make sure that you know how much time you are allowed and then rehearse your presentation aloud first to yourself and then to friends or family. Practising your talk for other can allow you to receive useful feedback on key areas such as pace, volume and clarity. You should also consider how can you make your poster more accessible. For example, by describing the images you use for the visually impaired. Having a clear structure to your presentation will also help, as you will have definite sections that you need to cover in a logical order. It is fine to have cue cards to remind yourself of the key points you want to make but be careful not to simply read the poster or a transcript of the information. Instead you should aim to know the information well enough to be able to talk fluently around your key points.
Below are some useful websites that provide additional information on poster presentations.
Find general information on Presentation Skills on The Learning Skills Hub on Moodle or contact the AA Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.