Posters are used widely within the academic community across all disciplines – and whether you’re a seasoned conference presenter or just beginning to think about presenting your research, this June’s Postgraduate Research Summer Showcase is the perfect time to develop your skills.
Why a poster presentation is good for your research
Poster sessions have a diverse audience, even at more specialist conferences they’re often one of the most open sessions. The Summer Showcase audience especially so, as it’s interdisciplinary, and open to a non-academic audience. This means you really have to challenge yourself to think about your research in a different way, and having to take that step back from your project can help you clarify your ideas.
As well as developing communications skills, the process of presenting your poster can also generate some interesting feedback, ideas or help you see areas that need clarifying. It can open up connections and networks with other researchers. All in all it’s a really good way to take time do something different but with lots of benefits to your development and research.
Designing your poster
The best academic posters are those which can effectively summarise the important aspects of your research, are easy to read and understand, and are visually appealing. The purpose of a poster is to grab the attention of the audience and inspire interest in your research. Here are some basic tips to help you start planning and designing your poster:
- Think about what aspects of your research would be interesting to a non-specialist audience – that is a good way to open to door to your research.
- Plan what you want to show and think about how to summarize any technical information.
- Like other types of academic writing the poster should be well organised with clear headings and subheadings. The structure should be clear and logical, with a clear sequence of the information you want to show.
- Remember your poster will be viewed in the first instance from a distance. Make sure the main points are large enough to be read form at least 1m away, and diagrams look clean and clear.
- Text format: Choose a font that is easy to read at a distance. Avoid mixing too many fonts as this can look messy. Use Italics, underlining and capitals sparingly. Avoid mixing alignments as this can look very awkward and remember that left aligned text is the easiest to read.
- Choose colours that work well together so that they don’t detract from the information in your display and use a small range of colours so that your poster doesn’t look chaotic.
- Make sure to include web links, references and contact details for further information.
- Make sure you check out the guidelines for the conference where you’re presenting. PSRS ones can be found here
Presenting your poster
With your engaging poster designed and printed, you’ll be ready to talk to the audience about your research on the day. This can be a really enjoyable and interesting experience. To get the most out of it, make sure you are there and ready to talk to visitors. Remember – it’s your research. You know it better than anyone, you will be able to answer most questions, and if you can’t it’s okay to say you’ll get back to people.
The beauty of this kind of presentation is that you never know what you’re going to get – and who knows a conversation could spark a research gem!
To enter this year’s Summer Showcase event, submit the poster title, three keywords and a short abstract of up to 150 words via the PSRS website by 26t April. The poster isn’t required until the event itself.
Cash prizes of £250 will be awarded to the best from each faculty, with £100 going to the runner up from each faculty. Take a look at how posters will be judged.
Previous PhD students Naomi and David have got some really useful insights in to the process of creating and presenting posters. There’s also more information and resources to help you get started with poster presentations on the PSRS website.