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Communications: Presenting the Poster

This course provides an overview of the basic concepts of communication and the skills necessary to communicate in various contexts. Emphasis is placed on communication theories and techniques used in interpersonal group, public, intercultural, and mass c


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

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

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.