If you present at a professional conference, you'll probably either display a poster or you'll deliver an oral presentation. On this page we pull together some tips and best practices on these types of presentations. Additionally, you'll find resources on writing a research paper.
Creating a Poster
Advice on creating effective posters:
Print your poster:
- Media services at Shippensburg University will print your poster for around $40. You need to send them a pdf of your poster at least one week before you need to pick it up.
- If you wait until the very end, stores like Staples can print your poster in a couple hours, but it will cost a lot more (like $100).
- There are plenty of online poster creation/printing services. In particular, Canva seems squarely aimed at ease-of-use.
- Use PowerPoint. Make just one slide in landscape orientation with dimensions 36" high by 48" wide. Use text boxes to move blocks of text around.
- Use sans-serif fonts. Make text large enough so the poster is easily readable from 4 feet away.
- Use pictures! Images and graphs convey a lot of information quickly, so you don't have to use words.
- Avoid long blocks of text. Bulleted/numbered lists are a good idea.
- Use color, but not too much color.
- Keep the ideas simple. The non-expert should be able to understand the main ideas of your research in the first 10 seconds of looking at your poster. The point of the poster isn't to show off how smart you are, or even to educate the viewer - the point is to excite the viewer about your research.
- Proof read, proof read, proof read!
- Read through text repeatedly, looking for ways to simplify ideas, shorten sentences, and make the language concise.
- Prepare a 30-second talk for people stopping by your poster. Find some way to engage them, instead of waiting for them to ask you a question first.
Delivering an Oral Presentation
Advice on giving an academic talk:
Advice on effective PowerPoint use:
- Remember that hearing a talk is a different experience from reading a paper - if you miss something you can't go back and rehear it again. As a speaker, find ways to keep your listeners on track. Abide by the principle, "First you tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Then you tell 'em. Then you tell 'em what you told 'em."
- The biggest PowerPoint mistake is using too much text. Use images or short phrases instead to move your talk along. Don't write up exactly what you are saying!
- Practice your presentation in front of a friend or professor.
- Tell a story - have a beginning, middle, and end to your talk.
Writing an Article for a Research Journal
Advice on writing a research article:
- The first thing you should do is browse through some articles in a research journal in your area. Look for article structure such as abstract, introduction, body, and references.
- It might seem silly, but don't underestimate the power of topic sentences! Topic sentences help you stay organized, and they help the reader through a dense, technical paper.