Poster presentations – day 4: practicalities for presenting a poster at a conference

Poster presentations – day 4: practicalities for presenting a poster at a conference

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Presenting a poster at a conference in a foreign language can feel like a difficult task.

However, it’s important to remember that poster presentations usually take place in an informal setting which allows them to be social and interactive events.

Poster presentations provide a great opportunity for you to promote yourself and your work. They offer a chance to network with potential funders or collaborators.

In the next article we will cover language in your poster, but in today’s article we cover a few practical items that can make you better prepared and hopefully make it easier for you to focus on presenting in English.

Practical things to consider

Practice – You’ll know the material on your poster better than anyone else, so give yourself a head start by trying to predict what kinds of questions people might ask and practicing your responses. This will enable you to present to your audience more smoothly.

Preparation – If you’re presenting the poster with a colleague, make sure that you prepare together and plan who is going to cover each part of the poster so that you can give a fluid presentation as a team.

Position – When you set up your poster, make sure you have space to stand beside it. You should easily be able to point to the visuals with a natural movement from where you’re standing without blocking the poster. Try to keep the space in front of your poster open so that you can invite people in.


In addition to your poster, you may also need:

Water – You might be situated in a large, noisy, air-conditioned hall with people lots of people moving around and talking. You may have to use a louder voice for longer than you’re used to and this can be tiring. Keep a bottle of water so that you can stay hydrated and protect your voice.

Business cards – Take a stash of business/contact cards to hand out to people you connect with. If someone has further questions about your work, encourage them to reach out and stay in touch after the event.

Notepad/pen – Take down the contact details of interesting people you meet. Make a note of organisations and companies that you might want to connect with in the future. Yes, you can do all of this on your phone but having a low-tech backup never hurts.

Handout/Information sheets – You’ll never fit everything you want to say on one poster. If there’s an area that you think some people might want more information about, pop it on a handout. Then, if the topic arises while you’re discussing your poster, you’ll already have some well-presented materials ready to share. Interested parties that they can take handouts away with them and this will make your poster and presentation more memorable. Don’t forget to add your name and contact details to any handouts you produce so that people can follow-up with you.

Your poster
  1. Make sure things are consistently labelled and that the information is clearly laid out.
  2. Ensure that graphs are clearly presented.
  3. Write concisely so that your audience doesn’t have to read long stretches of text.

If you simply read out what’s on your poster, people might lose interest. Think about how you can use it as a visual tool to engage your viewer while drawing their attention to the main points. Speak in a less formal manner to keep the conversation going and maintain interest.

Introducing your poster

If someone approaches you and asks ‘What’s your poster about?’ try to give a response that contains enough information to naturally invite a follow-up question.

For example:

A: What’s your poster about?

B: It’s about smartphones.  (This answer is too closed.)


A: What’s your poster about?

B: It’s about the impact of smartphones on our health – measuring differences across a variety of age groups.

This answer is more open and might encourage the following questions:

  • What health impacts did you find?
  • How did you measure these impacts?
  • What differences did you find between different age groups?

Sometimes you need to encourage people to come to you. As people pass your poster, make eye contact and greet them – maybe ask them a question about themselves. If they seem interested in your poster, it’s time to start presenting.

There is no multiple-choice quiz with today’s article.

Lesson tags: English for scientists, practical considerations, presenting a poster
Back to: English for Scientists