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Poster Presentations @ Pitt: Presenting the Poster

This guide is designed to help those preparing a poster presentation for a course assignment or a research display

Before the presentation day . . .

  • know when and where you need to arrive and install the poster
  • know what materials are being provided and what you have to bring
  • consider bringing some backup pins, tape, etc. in case of emergency
  • prepare any handouts you plan to give to interested viewers
  • arrange for business cards if you plan to distribute them to viewers
  • prepare an envelope to collect business cards left by viewers
  • practice your presentation
  • take a copy of your poster on a flash drive as a back-up in case of an emergency
  • know when the poster must be taken down

On the presentation day . . .

  • arrive and install your poster on time
  • have paper and pen/pencil ready to make notes, get contact information, etc.
  • dress appropriately - your instructor or advisor can give you tips on this. Generally, it's better to err on the side of looking more professional than less.
  • remove your poster on time

Presenting

Although many poster sessions only involve informal oral presentation and conversation with your viewers, some sessions or class assignments may involve a more formal presentation to an audience. Be sure you know which you need to prepare, although some tips for preparing a regular talk will also be useful for an informal presentation.

Preparing for an informal poster presentation:

  • allow plenty of preparation and rehearsal time
  • identify the main points you want your viewers to take away
  • prepare a brief (1-2 min.) standard talk that explains your poster and the take-away message
  • anticipate questions and prepare answers
  • understand the background behind your work, the methodology, how calculations were made, etc.
  • rehearse your presentation

During the poster session:

  • stand by your poster, but avoid blocking a view of it
  • be ready to engage with interested viewers; don't get lost in other activities
  • speak to passers-by, but don't corral them into spending time
  • ask an introductory question to gauge how much interest or background the viewer has in your subject
  • don't monopolize viewers' time going into details when they really want the big picture
  • don't allow one viewer to monopolize your time and exclude other interested viewers

What to Expect

The following articles provide insight into the experience of presenting a poster, including reactions from undergraduates who just presented at a national conference.