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SP0168 Theory of poster design and presentation
  1. M Boers
  1. Epidemiology & Biostatistics; Amsterdam Rheumatology and immunology Center, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands


This lecture introduces basic elements of poster design, and is followed after the session by a special poster tour devoted to design. It strongly links to the concepts discussed in my workshop on data visualization.

To design an effective poster, its message and the intended audience must be clear. Effective posters stand out because they convey their main message almost instantly, and then seduce participants to stay longer and learn more. Much more than oral presentations, posters are about selling your work in competition with all those other people presenting in your session.

In a good poster, all elements work together like a symphony orchestra:

Title, headings, text, tables, graphs, format, colors, layout, handouts, gimmicks, and ... you!

For the design process, you need a good plan (including timelines!), good tools (templates, software!) and a ruthless editor. Editing is about throwing out more and more stuff, until finally you reach the point where throwing out more destroys understanding. So the “orchestra” has single instrumentation, and is wonderfully transparent.

Posters are not “comprehensive”! All the details you love can go into a specially designed handout (NOT an exact replica of your poster).

Your role as presenter is special: you must be visible but unobtrusive, and flexible to accommodate different viewer styles, and have different modes of presentation (eg. walkthrough, answer questions, respond to critique). Also make sure your contact details are visible and correct (if no handout, be sure to have business cards). If you are playful you can use gimmicks to increase your visibility: match your clothes to your color scheme, make something in real 3D on your poster, use sound, etc. But don't overdo it: this is just the icing on the cake: this is a science, not a commercial exhibit.

When we go to assess posters in the upcoming poster tour, we will be looking for the following elements:

1. Overall message clear?

2. Text quality: brevity, clarity

3. Table quality: clear vision, clear understanding

4. Graph quality: clear vision, clear understanding

5. Design elements: layout, choice of font, color

6. Handout: not a replica, elements 1–5 repeated

7. Presenter: style, contact details

Disclosure of Interest None declared

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