Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHP) involved in clinical research often present their research at conferences and other events where colleagues, other researchers and the public can find out about their work.
Giving a poster presentation is a great opportunity to disseminate information about NMAHP involvement in research. Here are some tips for presenting successful posters and links to some of the many useful websites on the topic.
- Your poster needs to be visually attractive or eye-catching. The title should give accurate information to potential readers. Pictures, images, figures and an uncluttered layout can all draw people towards your work.
- If the poster size, font, orientation and style are stipulated by conference organisers, keep within these recommendations and follow guidance on the use of logos and branding from institutions and funders. Check with any colleagues who might also be presenting posters, so that “team colours” and style are consistent and use the same template.
- Some conferences require an abstract of the work to be submitted before being accepted as a presentation. Although the poster should reflect the content of the abstract, don’t simply reproduce the same words – use the opportunity to expand on and clarify your abstract.
- Less can be more – Avoid too much text. Boxes, bold font and colour can be effective ways to highlight key messages such as your Research Question, Aims, Methods, Results and your Conclusions. It’s easier to read key information at eye level – so don’t force readers to bend over to read small text in the bottom corner!
- Pictures and figures can be more effective than words – but make sure they are well labelled.
- Practise getting your key points over in a couple of minutes. You often get a chance to present your poster – usually a few minutes while people browse during a poster session – or sometimes to a chaired audience, where an expert will go around posters at a conference and ask questions (and may award prizes for best poster). Even if you are not there, the poster should be clear enough for people to be able to understand.
- Provide your contact details to help with networking and follow up enquiries.
- Sometimes a small handout sized (A4) version of the poster can be useful to give to those who are interested. Remember that small print may not be legible in handouts.
- Posters can sometimes be used more than once – After a conference, look for ways and places to display your work to other audiences
- Some conferences offer “electronic posters” – which allow the audience to view posters on a large screen (often selected, scrolled through and zoomed in and out in a way similar to an iPad). Bring a backup of your presentation on a USB drive and, if you have not used this format before, allow yourself some time to become familiar with the equipment and to practise your presentation.
Some useful sources of further information
- Thomas C Erren* and Philip E Bourne. Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation. PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 May; 3(5): e102. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030102
- London School of Economics – Poster Design Tips
(including links to sites for copyright-free images)
- Designing Communications for a Poster Fair. Penn State University
- Tips on poster presentation at professional conference S. W. Plunkett