10 March 2016

Worst poster viewer


“I don’t have a question so much as a comment...”

Dave Levitan at Slate looks at the phenomenon of why people use question time at the end of presentations to not ask questions.

 “My question is the following statement” is the bane of any sane conference-goer’s existence. Any conference, panel, lecture, seminar, symposium, and so on, in any possible field you can imagine, can be the setting for this crime against humanity. The tendency of audience members to stand up and speechify rather than simply ask is remarkably widespread — anecdotally, everyone I know says they see it all the time, and everyone says they hate it.

There’s no single, simple answer why people do this, but it got me wondering: is there an equivalent behaviour in a poster session?

Oral presentations are designed to be a one time spiel by one speaker to many audience members, but a poster is designed to be shown many times to a small audience that comes and goes. An oral talk rarely offers the the opportunity for dialogue that a poster presentation does.

But in both formats, some audience members who will listen quietly while the presenter speaks. A few will interject questions as the talk goes along.

I can’t remember any time in a poster presentation where someone who I did not know wandered up to my poster and just made statements about unrelated things that had nothing to do with the poster.

I do realize, however, that my experience is limited. I’m a pretty tall, old guy, which can have the effect of filtering out a lot of interactions from other conference goers.

Has anyone encountered the “My question is the following statement” behaviour at a poster presentation? If not, what is the most annoying thing that a poster viewer has done to you in a poster presentation?

I think mine might be the poster viewer who just won’t leave.

Update: Here are answers to #WorstPosterViewer from Twitter:


External links

My Question Is the Following Statement

1 comment:

Natalia Vale Asari said...


My first ever poster was at a symposium with a bigger conference. The only person that talked to me was a big shot that only came, told me `we did all of this in the 80s' and left. I bear no grudge, but it wasn't a great start.