Study Materials

Tips for Presenting Posters

During a poster session, your goal is to motivate visitors to view your poster and engage with you about its contents. So both the appearance of the poster and your initial interactions with the visitors serve as the “hook.” What you say is important, but so is how you say it. As in a formal presentation, your eye contact, posture, stance and gestures can improve or detract from your explanation of your poster.

  1. You should start by answering the question “Why does this matter?” in a 30- to 60-minute statement. You can answer this question in many different ways, but all approaches (1) incorporate compelling nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and (2) stress key words. Some effective openers that I’ve heard and that you can adopt / adapt / combine are
    • We’re helping (the MIT Chocolate Co.) deal with (a major crisis) by . . .
    • X is a crippling problem in (the chocolate manufacturing industry), and our goal is to . . .
    • Our research addresses the terrible problem of X in (the chocolate industry).
    • We’re interested in knowing how … With this information, (the chocolate industry) will be able to . . .
    • Our key question to answer is ???? To find the answer, we’ll be performing . . .
    • Our immediate goal for this project is X, and our preliminary results suggest (our novel approach) … The long-term ramifications. . .
    • X is a massive problem for (the chocolate industry) and we’re doing X to solve it. What’s new and exciting about our approach is. . .
    • Usually companies do X, but we’re trying a new approach—Y!
    • In (the chocolate industry), Y is critical.
    • The most challenging problem (the chocolate industry) is facing . . .
    • The key problem our client is facing is X, and our solution to this problem could save $$$.
  2. You should face away from the poster and speak extemporaneously TO the viewers. (Please, please, please don’t read the text on the poster out loud!)
  3. You should stand close enough to the poster that you can point to, or even touch, the appropriate sections / images at the appropriate time.
  4. While word choice can be somewhat less formal than in a standard presentation, you should avoid inappropriately informal language, e.g. “you guys,” “gonna,” and “wanna.”
  5. You should keep a moderate pace, use strategic pauses instead of saying “um,” and avoid informal intonation patterns (“uptalk”).

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2016