by Prasad P. Velu
Scientific posters are a great way to communicate the findings of a research project, study or audit in a visual, easily accessible format. Poster presentations are often part of scientific meetings and conferences. Here are some general pointers to prepare an effective poster presentation.
- Meeting organisers may have specified certain requirements for posters ie. Size, Orientation. Make a note of these and follow them when designing your poster
- Many different software programmes can be used to design scientific posters, although Microsoft PowerPoint is a favourite amongst many as it is easy to use and available to most users
- When getting started on your poster using PowerPoint, specify the dimensions of the poster depending on the final size in the ‘Page Setup’ window (ie. When designing a poster that will be printed in A0 size, portrait orientation – the height of the poster should be 1189mm and the width should be 841mm). Doing this before anything else will ensure that the resolution of images in your poster is maintained when printed
- The title of the project/study should be at the top of the poster, followed by the names of the authors and their affiliations
- You also have the option of placing logos of the institution where the study was conducted/affiliated institutions at the top of the poster, by the title. Examples include your university logo or the logo of the NHS trust in which the study took place/your supervising consultant is affiliated with
- The introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusions are placed in the body of the poster. Arrange the relevant sections in an easy to follow, progressive order. Placing each section in its own ‘box’ or outline can help delineate between sections clearly.
- Ensure each section has a clear heading
- Attempt to keep the text in your poster to a minimum. Bullet points are a great way to minimise text and highlight important parts in the text of your poster.
- Present data in a graphical format. For example, graphs and pie charts can be used to present results, and flow diagrams can be used to present the Methods section of a study
- Photos make a great addition to posters and a variety can be used depending on your study. For example, in a surgical study you can attempt to include pictures of the procedure discussed or pathological samples/sections of relevance. Ensure you obtain written consent for any pictures used in your poster
- A section at the end of the poster can be used for acknowledgements and references
- Remember to include your contact details (e-mail address) at the end of the poster, should anyone who interested choose to contact you after the meeting. This is a great way to obtain feedback on your work and establish contact with potential collaborators.
- Send the draft poster to co-authors to obtain their feedback
- Once your draft is completed, identify a means to print your poster. Your supervisors may have recommendations as to how you may do this (they may have links with a printing or graphics company which they use regularly) or you can print your poster at a facility at your university
- It is always worth contacting meeting organisers about how posters are to be mounted on the day. Depending on their instructions, it might be worth investing in double-sided tape, push pins, blue-tac or Velcro stickers to mount your poster
- Also check if you are to mount the poster yourself or if the poster is to be handed in at reception at the start of proceedings. Meeting organisers often provide information about this and the above point in an e-mail/a page on the meeting website closer to the date
- Some meetings may require you to ‘present’ your poster. For this, prepare and practice a short presentation of your poster, highlighting the salient points of your study. Remember that many posters may be on display in a short time and listeners may not have a lot of time to spend at each poster, so tailor your presentation to get your listeners’ attention.
- Some listeners may have questions, so know your work well.
We hope you have found this article helpful. All the very best in submitting your work to meetings, designing and presenting your poster!