01 March 2009


Why a blog about poster presentations?

I’m a professional scientist. I’m also interested in presentations, because I have to give a lot of them, both as a teacher and as a researcher.

Like many other people, I’ve been to a lot of really bad presentations. And I’ve been pleased to see resources, like Garr Reynolds’ great Presentation Zen blog and Nancy Duarte’s fantastic book Slide:ology, devoted to providing resources and discussion for how to do presentations better. There are entire conferences about giving better PowerPoint presentations. I give advice on presentations quite a bit on my main blog, NeuroDojo.

When I was writing a recent post about how many people abuse PowerPoint to create posters, I wrote:

(M)aybe it’s time for a few dedicated individuals to take up the cause for poster design.

I went looking for such resources, and was disappointed. There were lots of websites with suggestions for posters, but nothing like the sorts of resources that are available for PowerPoint and KeyNote presentations. The sites I found were typically short, static, not updated, and cut and dry. Many websites tended to treat posters as a problem that could be solved by following a standard “cookbook” solution, that there was One Right Way™ to lay out a poster. Few talked about the actual verbal part of the presentation, the “tour” as people sometimes call it.

Poster presentations may be less frequent than slide presentations, but they are not rare. The 2004 Society for Neuroscience conference is pictured here as one example. There are tens of thousands of poster presentations given at that one meeting alone.

I’ve seen a lot of really poorly made posters, just as I’ve seen many poorly designed slides. There is as great a need to promote excellence and craft in poster presentations as there is for oral presentations. I hope that this blog will start to fill that niche.

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