Presenting at a conference of any kind, and in any format, can be a daunting prospect but one full of opportunities. If your presentation is in a poster format then it can be challenging to know how best to present your study and/or findings. Recently I won first place for my poster presentation at the BPS annual counselling psychology conference. As a result, I have come up with my top tips that helped me deliver a poster presentation that was engaging and interesting.

Tip #1 – Ensure the message is clear and concise:

  • On average an individual only looks at a poster at a conference for anywhere between 40 seconds to 60 seconds.
  • The last thing they want to do is read scrolls and scrolls of text to get the point.
  • Make sure to be clear, succinct and to the point with all the relevant information you require.

Tip #2 – Make the poster stand out from the rest:

  • At any conference, it is easy to get lost in the group of posters presented.
  • You could be at a conference that has in excess of 50 posters, so it is vital that yours stands out from the crowd.
  • I have always found that when people anticipate this, they want to add lots of colour and be as bold as possible. This is not always the best idea.
  • Your poster might stand out more if it has some white space or a white background. Something to think about here as the majority of people will think to add bold colours in order to stand out.
  • We will get to a few additional point that will help you stand out at your conference later.

Tip #3 – Why use words when you can use diagrams?:

  • As we have already been saying, people don’t spend long on average looking at posters.
  • Therefore, why say something with words that can be said in even greater detail, and more manageable, in a diagram or picture?
  • If you have conceptualised a theory or want to report some interesting findings then charts and graphs could be a good option.
  • In the poster I won first place for recently, I was sure to have a diagram that stood centre stage of the poster. It was very basic but stood out and got my points across for what I did, why I did it and what I took from what was discovered.

Tip #4 – Include participant and paper information:

  • One of the key pieces of feedback I received from my poster was that I included the number of papers that were relevant to my study, where I found them and how I reduced my search.
  • This is something that is apparently overlooked and you really should consider adding this information to your poster.
  • Likewise, if you had participants etc then the information of number etc should be included at some point.
  • Beleive me, those judging your poster really do look out for these things!

Tip #5 – Have available handouts:

  • One of the best tips I learned when working on my poster was to have available handouts for those interested in your work.
  • This could include a summary of what you have in your poster and perhaps some additional information.
  • However, one of the best reason for doing this is networking.
  • You can have your contact details on this for people to get in touch with you. Conferences are a fantastic opportunity to network in psychology. Having something that people can take away with them that has a means of getting in touch with you is a very smart move!

Tip #6 – Make it flow:

  • There are a number of things to juggle when creating and delivering an effective poster at a conference.
  • One of the key things often overlooked is how it flows.
  • The information you provide in your poster will be very brief at points and very direct, therefore its important that your whole poster has a flow to it. It should be easy to read and follow.
  • One easy way to help with this is to have a title of each section of information you have, this should also be numbered so the reader knows where to look next.
  • For example:
    1. Introduction
    2. Methods
    3. Results
    4. Implications for Practice.
  • This is very basic but maybe gives you an idea of what is expected regarding the flow of your poster.

Poster presenting, and attending a conference in general, is a really good way to network and develop your own knowledge and skills. With these steps, you will be well on your way to making your poster stand out from the rest and deliver clear and concise information that the reader will enjoy.

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