Presentation Tips

Video: How to Create Effective Posters in Google Slides/PowerPoint

How to Create an Academic Poster

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What is the goal of the poster?

  • Present something interesting/new to the academic community.
  • Convey that interesting/new work in a visually pleasing, succinct, and complete way.
  • Attract passers-by to your poster.
  • Gather feedback on your work from others in the field.

What to use?

It is suggested that you use Google Slides to create your poster. You can create a poster in any tool you’re comfortable with (others include PowerPoint, LibreOffice, Photoshop, Pages, LaTeX, or Publisher), but Slides provides the most flexibility and ease of use, so this tutorial will concentrate on that. Similar steps and configurations can be followed for other tools, as well.

Basics

  • Size: The poster should (usually) be 34” by 36”, portrait (with some exceptions). Plotter paper rolls (from where you will likely be printing your posters) are 36” across, so it’s usually a good idea to stick to that dimension. For posters for Merrimack College, we expect this size which will fit our poster boards.
    • To adjust the slide’s size open the File Menu, and click Setup.
  • Layout: A template has been provided for you in this directory. You do not have to use these, and certainly shouldn’t keep the color in all cases, but feel free to make copies and experiment with the templates. Your poster should have the Merrimack logo in the upper left corner.
  • Honors Students: A separate template is available for Honors Students which contains the seal of the Honors program in the corner. Please consider using this template to identify your poster as an Honors Project.
  • Google Slides: Google Slides provides all the necessary basic functionality for creating posters, such as 2D shapes, alignment tools, and text effects. Please familiarize yourself with Google Slides (or whatever tool you’ll be using).

Content

  • Create an Outline: The first step toward designing your poster is to design an outline of the content you wish to put on the poster. You should have, at least, an introduction (including motivation) and conclusion (take-away) for the poster. Discuss this with your adviser/professor if you’re unsure what to include on the poster.
    • Whatever else goes on the poster is dependent upon the project itself, but most studies include methodology and results sections, whereas other projects may include historical information, information about source material, creative process descriptions, or inspirations.
    • Also be sure to include in your outline where diagrams, tables, and figures will be included.
    • Include a “references” section, and be sure to cite any references you have.
  • Create the Header: Your header should look similar to the one in the template. It should include, at the least, a title, author(s), and affiliation (the Name and Merrimack College logo).
  • Implement Your Outline: Create graphical sections for each of the components of your outline.
    • Each section should be a box, preferably lightly colored in, over the top of which you will provide your text.
    • Rounded corners generally look nicer than angular ones, but this is a personal preference.
    • If your data and text fit nicely within a shape that’s not rectangular, feel free to try out different ones. Try to remember that people will need to read your material, so don’t go too crazy here.
  • General Tips:
    • Do not include walls of text. Bulleted lists convey information, and diagrams, figures, and graphs convey information even better. If you can get an idea or result across to your reader without words, do it (Less is more!).
    • Be sure all figures and graphs are labeled appropriately.
    • Try not to include large areas of deep color.
    • Use a consistent font throughout your poster.
    • Be sure your font can be read from a few feet away.
    • Know your audience. Not everyone interested in your poster will be in your field, so have portions of your poster speak to them (specifically, the introduction, motivation, and conclusion). Procedures, methodologies, and information about the details of the study/project can be technical in nature, but the motivation should not be.
    • You put a lot of hard work into this project, so make sure that is conveyed by your poster. Your excitement for the project will come through if you spend time on your poster.
    • The details are important. Spelling, grammar, making sure all the text fits within the bounds of a segment of the poster, and color choices matter.
    • Have friends and your adviser look over your poster before it gets printed, and take their suggestions.

How to Write An Abstract

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An abstract is a short description of what you did and learned from your project. It should be interesting, informative, and written for a broad audience. Don’t assume the reader knows why your work is significant. Remember this conference is a school-wide event so you will likely be talking to people outside of your discipline. A well-written abstract is one you can use as your “elevator pitch” when talking to an audience about your work.

Format

Introduction

  • 1 sentence placing the project in context (what has the literature/other scholars in your field had to say about your topic)
  • 1 to 2 sentences explicitly stating what you investigated and why it was special

Body

  • 1 to 3 sentences summing up the approach, or the most important methods used to investigate the problem

Results and Discussion

  • 1 to 3 sentences that summarize the MAJOR findings and potential future applications

Summary

  • 1 sentence that summarizes why your results are significant and perhaps what you will do in the future

Things to Avoid in the Abstract

  • References to other literature
  • References to figures or images
  • Overuse of abbreviations or acronyms
  • Repetition
  • Including unnecessary or vague sentences

5 Key Elements to a Great Poster Presentation

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  1. Have a 3-minute “elevator speech” ready to go! In the speech you should be able to clearly articulate the purpose of your project, the steps taken in your project, your MAJOR findings/results and ideas for future work.
  2. Be the Expert! You have put a lot of time and effort into the project —do not be afraid to show it…Be confident!
  3. Be flexible! Remember not everyone is an expert in your topic and may know very little about the topic. Be prepared to adjust the content of your “elevator speech” depending on the listener.
  4. Engage visitors- Ask people who approach your poster if they would like to hear more (use your elevator speech!) Ask them if they have any questions you can answer.
  5. Dress to impress! This is a professional conference, so it is important that you look and act professionally. 

Tips for Designing Posters in PowerPoint

The University of Toledo has put together a helpful guide to designing posters in PowerPoint. 

See Document