Tips for Students

Poster Presentations and Academic Presentations

*Poster Printing: posters should be printed well in advance of the showcase and students who want to print on campus at a discounted rate must bring their poster to the Social Science department by the Tuesday before the Showcase of Excellence.  There are other options for printing at Megaprint at the student’s expense.  Please upload posters here: Poster Upload Site.

Poster Presentation

Watch: Giving an Effective Poster Presentation

A poster presentation is the medium through which one can show their research in an organized manner to a wide range of people while having opportunities to share findings, network with potential employers, and receive feedback. A poster presentation involves many people: both the people giving their presentation and those who make up the audience. At a conference, there are many posters to look through in a short time, so not everyone will be able to talk to presenters or even look at each poster. Having a structured yet visually striking poster will be effective at grabbing the audience’s attention.

Expectations vary in different fields and disciplines and while a specific written speech is not always necessary the presenter should clearly demonstrate knowledge of the poster.

General format tips for posters:

  • Keep text at a minimum and use lots of visuals (charts, graphs, photos, etc.)
    • A good general measure (not necessarily for every project): 2/3 visuals, 1/3 text and having blank spaces to keep the display from looking too busy
    • Organize poster in a logical order
    • Have a font that is large enough to be read from about six feet away and is legible
      • Serif fonts are easiest to read (avoid comic sans)
      • Don’t change fonts throughout
      • Only use bold to highlight certain terms- don’t make entire sentences bold
      • Keep text to a minimum- blocks of text will not be read (instead prepare some handouts to give to those who are interested in learning more)
      • Incorporate color without going overboard- stick to a color theme but don’t print a block of one color
      • Aim for balance in the poster (keep both sides somewhat equal in display, smaller items towards the bottom of poster, etc.)
      • When in doubt, stay simple

The document below is a template that is provided by the Biological sciences department. Following this layout will make a visually interesting poster and provide an efficient method of presenting information for a science based research project, although this is just a model and can be adjusted depending on the needs of an individual’s project.


Following this template for projects relating to humanities and social sciences would be more challenging because it may not be possible to represent research through such visual data.

Instead, the approach for a poster in these fields will require a little more creativity. University of Houston Downtown provides some excellent ways to create a poster that shows the information needed while preventing a poster from being a giant wall of text:

Overall tips and advice:

Boise State’s Poster Presentation Basics

Tips for a Science Presentation

Keene State’s Academic Excellence Conference, Poster Presentations

Tips on Poster Presentations and Professional Behavior from California State University

Anthropology Poster Guide for Beginners

Templates for Posters

Examples of good posters:

Examples of posters with positive and negative feedback

Academic talks:

Giving an academic talk or oral presentation is giving a prepared speech of anywhere from eight to twenty five minutes to a larger audience about a topic researched. Sometimes done with the aid of PowerPoints, these presentations can show ideas to a large group fairly easily. By looking at the audience, the speaker can gauge their response to the speech and adjust the voice or tone of it to better grab their attention.

Tips for a successful talk:

  • Don’t memorize speech word-for-word
    • Use notecards if necessary
    • Have a “hook” to grab audience’s attention
    • Speak slowly and with confidence
    • Use gestures and body language when appropriate
    • Practice makes perfect- try the presentation with an audience such as roommates or family and try it in front of the mirror
    • Use visuals from a PowerPoint to reinforce and bring clarity to points made


For both oral and poster presentations:

  • Be able to deliver the main idea to the audience in ten seconds or less
  • Prepare ahead of time for Q & A session
  • Be punctual and prepared to present
  • Make the work appear professional- neatness, stick with one theme, keep borders straight, use double sided tape, etc.

The student is presenting themselves, not just their work:

  • Aim to dress in business casual
  • No T-shirts, strapless/low cut dresses or blouses
  • No baseball caps/inappropriate headwear
  • No loud or distracting jewelry
  • Wear closed toed shoes
  • Keep comfort in mind – a presenter may need to stand for several hours, so shoes should be comfortable.


Symposium Abstracts

Abstract Example

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Center for Business and Community Partnerships

Ben Amsden
Director of the Center for Business and Community Partnerships
(603) 535-3276