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Oral Communication Center

Oral Communication in Other Contexts

Making Successful Poster Presentations

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Presenters of posters, like other kinds of public speakers, always must think about the situation in which they will be presenting and the audience to whom they will be presenting so that they can make necessary adjustments. Among the issues you should consider are the following:

  • Characteristics of the venue (traffic, noise, other activities, etc.)
  • What kind of occasion (social? formal? ceremonial?)
  • Number and types of posters on display (How wide a range of choices for audience? How does yours relate to the others?)
  • People moving in and out of your "sphere of influence"
  • People joining the conversation at different points
  • Viewers' backgrounds and familiarity with subject
  • Viewers' uncertainty about where and how to begin interpreting the poster

Besides flexibility and adaptability, poster presentations require skill in organization, development, and oral expression. You should be prepared to do the following:

  • Concisely and clearly put the work in a context. Explain why it's important or interesting, how it relates to the field, what inspired you to do it, etc.
  • Concisely and clearly state what the work is about and what you did. Give a concise overview.
  • Concisely and clearly state the 3-5 most important things you want the viewer to know about the project.
  • Explain and elaborate in a way that is direct, concrete, and accessible to the viewer. Use examples, comparisons, explanations, and language that are appropriate to the viewer's level of experience and knowledge.
  • Anticipate the 8-10 questions most likely to be asked and plan how you will concisely and clearly answer them.
  • Make eye contact with the person or persons with whom you are speaking.
  • Share your enthusiasm and interest.
  • Use your voice expressively to enhance meaning and add interest.
  • Be sensitive to your listeners' signs of comprehension and confusion, and make appropriate adjustments.