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Student Research Conference: Preparing for your poster presentation with Maya Weilundemo Ott Harvard Graduate School of Education March 23, 2015 Sources:

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1 Student Research Conference: Preparing for your poster presentation with Maya Weilundemo Ott Harvard Graduate School of Education March 23, 2015 Sources: The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Hess, Tosney, & Liegel (2013). Creating Effective Poster Presentations.

2 What’s so great about presenting a poster? Share your research in a relatively low-pressure environment Practice telling the story of your research Practice answering questions about your project Gain insights about next steps Session goal: Prepare to make the most of this opportunity

3 The basics Your poster should be presented on a tri-fold board so that it can be displayed on a table Tri-fold boards typically hold about 15 pages in landscape orientation You should practice presenting a brief pitch that tells the story of your project You may also prepare a handout to share with viewers Alternatively, bring a sign-up sheet and offer to share your handout electronically

4 Be aware of your audience(s) Who is your audience? General interest Expert Prepare your poster and pitch with a general interest audience in mind Describe the big-picture context for your research Articulate the significance of the issue or problem Provide a concise, jargon-free summary of your methods Explain how your findings help address the issue or problem Prepare your handout with an expert audience in mind Provide a more detailed account of your methods Acknowledge the limitations of your study …and be prepared to talk about these details, if someone asks

5 Craft a focused, coherent story about your project A simple, coherent story will be easier for your audience to understand, respond to, and remember Ask: What do I most want my audience to learn about my project? Identify a very small number of key take-away messages Weave those messages into a coherent story about your project Your poster should only include text and graphics that directly support your story Ask: Is this really essential to my story? If not, cut it Remember that interested viewers can always ask for details

6 Contents of a research poster Project title Author name(s), affiliation(s), and address(es) Context for your study What does your audience need to know in order to appreciate the significance of your study? What practical or theoretical issues motivated your study? Research questions Methods What was the source of your data? What should your audience know about your sample? How did you collect and analyze data?

7 Contents of a research poster (continued) Results What did you find? How do your results map onto your research questions? What is your most persuasive or interesting data? Discussion How do you interpret or make sense of your findings? What implications do your findings suggest, in terms of the practical and theoretical issues that motivated your study? What do you see as next steps for research? References

8 Create a positive first impression Design your poster to capture the attention of people wandering by Text and figures should be completely legible at a distance of 4 feet Overall composition should be visually inviting—not overwhelming Don’t fight reader gravity—your viewers’ habits for scanning text For readers of English, reader gravity pulls viewers’ eyes from top to bottom and from left to right Position the most important content where viewers are most likely to look Source: Hess, Tosney, & Liegel (2013). Creating Effective Poster Presentations.

9 Design text elements for ease of digestion Be ruthless about reducing text Ask: Is this really essential to my story? Limit blocks of text to 50 words Create substantive headings that tell the story of your study For example, replace “Results” with a key finding Reduce sentence complexity. Replace sentences with phrases Avoid jargon Commit to using just one font Use at least 20-point font Use dark text—preferably black—on a light background Left-justify blocks of text Double-space text elements

10 Use graphic elements to emphasize key take-aways Use graphics to direct viewers’ attention Use charts, graphs, or other figures to communicate your most important or interesting findings Use color only to highlight key information Design clean figures that are easy to interpret. Get rid of chartjunk!

11 Prepare to engage with your audience Practice telling the story of your project through a brief pitch …lasting 3 minutes …lasting only 30 seconds …using your poster as a visual aid …to friends or colleagues At the conference, when people approach your poster: Wait a few moments, giving them time to scan your poster Then thank them for stopping and offer a “guided tour” of your project More productive than just asking, “Do you have any questions?” Tell the story of your project, using your poster as a visual aid What I wish I’d known Plan for a conversation, not a presentation What sort of feedback would you like from your audience? “One thing I’m still puzzled by…” or “The results made me wonder…”

12 Questions? Sources: The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Hess, Tosney, & Liegel (2013). Creating Effective Poster Presentations.


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