24 March 2011


Posters are social objects. Their job is to start conversations. But it’s not just the poster itself that can start conversations.

A while ago, Jennifer Rohn wrote:

When you carry a poster tube at the airport, you find yourself bonding with other tubers, exchanging the acronyms of meeting you’re attending

And this is yet another advantage of giving a poster at a conference rather than a talk. Many people agree that the actual presentations at conferences, scientific or otherwise, are not the most valuable parts of the conference.

When you’re on your way to a bigger conference, carrying that poster tube in the airport increases the chances of striking up one of those conversations that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

But if you’re looking at PowerPoint slides on a laptop in an airport waiting lounge, you send almost no signals to any other conference goers that you, like them, are on your way to do science.

When you see someone with a poster tube in the airport, use that opportunity. Ask them, “Are you going to this conference, too?”

Related post

Conversation piece
From printer to posterboard

Photo by IITA Image Library on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.

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