From March 3-5th I had the privilege of presenting my research at the Eastern Psychological Association’s conference in New York City. After sitting in on countless talks and walking past hundreds of posters I wanted to share some tips for you when you present your own research!
If you’re presenting a poster:
1. Use color! It amazes me how simple this idea is; yet how quickly people forget about it. Colors catch the eye of passers-by and can make someone stop to look at your poster which IS WHAT YOU WANT! Use inviting, complimentary colors instead of colors that clash.
2. Avoid long blocks of text. Bullet points are your best friend and full sentences are your worst enemy. Shorten wherever you can to make your poster easier to read.
3. DO NOT laminate your poster. It makes it difficult to read, especially when walking past.
4. SMILE! Even when you’re awkwardly waiting for someone to come up to you, look enthusiastic about your project and others will reciprocate.
5. Don’t you dare look at your phone. Sure you’ve been standing there for 20 minutes and no one has come up to look at your poster, but that doesn’t mean you need to check Facebook. Put your phone on “do not disturb” and stash it away.
6. Be prepared with an “elevator speech” that summarizes your study. Give a brief overview so that people don’t have to read everything on your poster, and instead can ask questions.
7. Have print-outs of your poster hanging up. If you’re busy talking to someone, another person can grab a copy and come back later with questions.
8. Bring business cards. One of the best parts of presenting research is the opportunity to talk with other professionals, bounce ideas off each other, and even exchange information for future collaborations.
9. Invest in a reusable poster tube (preferably one with a strap). You might not think about it until its too late, but you don’t want to have to run to present your poster in the rain and risk it getting wet.
If you’re giving a speech:
1. If you’re using a PowerPoint, Prezi or any other type of visual aid, DO NOT read straight from it. Print out your notes and never look backwards during your presentation unless you’re pointing something out on a graph.
2. Keep it interesting. You start to lose your audience around 6 minutes, if you go over this time try to plan for a break so people can refocus.
3. Practice your pacing beforehand. If you think you’re speaking too fast, you probably are. Take a sip of water and count to five before beginning again.
4. Leave time for questions from the audience. If you can, stay after your presentation for a few minutes so people can come up to you personally.
5. And finally, a few words of wisdom from my mentor, Dr. Moreno: “…remember that you are an expert on your project.” You know your topic better than anyone else in the room, so act like it.
Take a deep breath and ENJOY the opportunity you’ve been given to share all of your hard work!