Form follows function. The function of PowerPoint is to emulate a series of 35 mm slides. Because many researchers use PowerPoint for their talks and lectures, they also tend to use it for every graphic problem, including posters. Predictably, the form of the resulting posters often look like nothing more than a series of ugly PowerPoint slides tacked together.
A poster is more like a whiteboard than slides. But because many researchers give more presentations than posters, they’re not used to thinking in terms of a big space, viewed all at once, instead of a series of small spaces, viewed one at a time.
If you want to break out of the “Next slide, please” rut, check out Prezi, presentation software that is available free online. Its presentation metaphor is that of a big whiteboard, much like a poster, rather than individual slides. There are many things you can do in Prezi that you cannot do with a poster, like zooming in and out. Prezi is still very much a work in progress. Currently, you don’t have a lot of control over graphic elements; you have only limited ability to change fonts and colours and so on.
Nevertheless, it forces you to think about using space in a totally different way than you do when using PowerPoint. It’s good practice.
The “No more slidesters” series will be back after I have time to sit and review more software!