Scientific conferences are cherished by participants for the exchanges of knowledge and experience between experts that they encourage. Exposure to the latest advancements in the field is often the highlight of conferences, whether they be virtual, in person, or hybrid events.
As one of the most prevalent mediums of scientific communication, posters are a key feature of conferences and play a major role in how research is shared and received. A great ePoster is not only a visual aid during research presentations, but a memorable and effective communication tool.
Photo from ANESTHESIOLOGY 2021 in San Diego, CA
So, how can authors take their ePosters to the next level?
Once you have decided on your software of choice (whether PowerPoint, Photoshop, Microsoft Word, or something else), composing an ePoster can be relatively straightforward. After identifying relevant headings and choosing what information to include, all that remains are spacing and design concerns.
Here are a few tips that will make your ePoster stand out:
1. Take Advantage of the Possibilities Afforded by Visual Components
An ideal text-to-image ratio is about 1:1. Visuals balance out your ePoster. This gives your audience something new to look at, instead of being overwhelmed by a wall of text.
Many authors opt for photographs or graphs, but there is a wide range of audiovisual components that you can include, such as scans or other imaging studies (including videos or gifs), timelines, sound recordings, and flowcharts. What you choose should be well-suited to your discipline and area of research. Don’t forget to caption your media, as well.
Here is an example from ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) Annual Scientific Meeting 2021: “The Stings That Keep on Giving: Delayed Anaphylaxis to Hymenoptera Venom” by Elsa Treffeisen, Lynda Schneider, and Lisa Bartnikas.
The poster features a highly visual case description with multiple graphics that demonstrate the patient’s developing status over time. It also includes a QR code in the bottom right corner that can be scanned for access to the full abstract, alleviating the poster from having to encompass the abstract in its entirety and giving viewers an opportunity to learn more, if they wish. Finally, two decorative wasps are added, one next to the word Hymenoptera, the order of insect’s venom in the study. All of these are excellent examples of how images can be added to improve a poster in strategic, relevant ways that augment its meaning.
2. Be Strategic About Your Text
When sharing research, it can be easy to give too much information and detail, which can at times weaken the presentation. When deciding what text to include, keep in mind that researchers outside of your specialty should be able to follow the general trajectory of your research. It is important to balance scientific terminology with an easy-to-follow structure and a digestible amount and variety of textual evidence accessible to a wide audience.
In other words, it’s important not just what you say but how you present the information. To do this, avoid long sentences and unnecessary jargon. This will not only make your ePoster accessible to a larger audience, but increases the likelihood that it will be remembered by those who take the time to read it.
3. Customize your ePoster to each Conference
Pay attention to Conference-specific details that will make your poster stand out. Keep your audience in mind, and be aware of the level and scope of knowledge they will bring to your presentation.
It’s also important to check dimension requirements with the event organizers to ensure your ePoster takes up the entire screen. Ensure your poster will not need to be zoomed in on at the in-person event. This will save time and trouble that could impede your presentation.
4. Have an Engaging and Memorable Title
The importance of specificity and accuracy in scientific research cannot be overstated.
For the sake of an ePoster presentation, though, sometimes less is more. A title becomes memorable when it is pithy, includes subtle references, or even a rhyme. Its purpose is not to distract viewers, but to attract and intrigue new ones.
If you’re struggling to come up with something innovative, try brainstorming a few titles, then choose your favorite. Or, combine titles using a colon or em-dash to get the most out of your header.
“They Did the Ma(r)sh, They Did the Monster Ma(r)sh”: Fens and Monsters from Early Medieval England to the Screen. Simon Heller, Oxford English Graduate Conference, 2021.
Or, take this title from this year’s ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) Annual Scientific Meeting 2021:
These titles stand out because they feature witty openings, then segue into the technical specificity required by the presentation material, keeping the audience engaged while offering a clear idea of the poster’s topic and scope.
5. Make Thoughtful Design Choices
The colors, fonts, and margins used in an ePoster are at the discretion of the author. But there are a few practices that
should be avoided because they can inhibit the legibility of the poster. Try these tips to make your ePoster more readable and accessible:
- Choose a subtle background color with tasteful accents.
- Color gradients make text hard to read--opt for solid colors instead. Having a high contrast between content and the background improves legibility for people with low vision or color deficiencies.
- Lastly, be intentional about fonts and their sizing. The easier your poster is to look at, the more attention it will get from viewers.
Incorporating these tips into your next ePoster presentation will make it stand out at the conference and beyond. Have other ideas about how authors can improve their posters? Reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ePostersLive to share your thoughts, or email us at [email protected]. Together, we can transform scientific conferences in the digital age.