Giving a Poster/Paper

Sylvia Becker becker at
Thu Oct 23 04:58:21 EST 1997

 : In article <344E9BC4.2FEA at>, arreola at wrote:
 : > x-no-archive: yes
 : >   
 : > I going to be giving a workshop to undergrads & grad students on how to 
 : > give a poster/paper. Can you please tell me the top 5 pieces of advice 
 : > that you give friends or students about giving a great presentation? 
 : > This will most likely be given to students who have little presentation 
 : > experience. 
 : > 
 : > Thanks!

Poster and talk:

1. Address the topics what? why? and how? and make sure that the answers are
plain to see even for the more sleepy readers/listeners.

2. at the end of a section:  collect the most important points in a box as
a sort of summary of what you have just been talking/writing about (that way
you can drive points home a lot better)

3. structure is important: always make clear what you are talking about now
(rambling on about something without saying why is sending people to sleep)

4. no "preprint" as a poster, no epic as a talk:  few, well chosen words on
the poster/the transparency.  Poster:  for more interested readers provide:
a pile of (p)reprints if available and/or a sheet of paper on the poster
where they can enter their address to your preprint mailing list.
Talk: Never address two points on one transparency!  Use colours to
structure the transparencies, not to show that you have a fantastic colour
printer (the latter seems to become more common these days)!

5. Important points are worthy of repetition!  Pictures (if not too complex)
say a lot more than words though sometimes long tables may be necessary, too.
First choice should be a picture/plot, if that doesn't work think of

...and a few things that should be obvious:

if you show diagrams: ALWAYS say what the axes are, don't wait for the
audience to read the smallprint

use a large font (both poster and transparency) or write transparencies by
hand in a legible fashion (maybe it's just me but I can follow some
handwritten stuff better than the LaTeX sterile but neat transparencies,
there are more nuances to the handwriting)

if there is something you are not sure of (a result you don't understand, an
equation which you haven't quite seen through yet, an apparatus which you
are using as a fairly black box): think of how you want to deal with it.
Some people have a nose for such weaknesses and take you apart from there so
your options are:  leave it out (e.g. the equation), admit it (the black box
bit) or try and see it through before talking about it. Just DON'T think
noone will notice.  This doesn't mean you should only produce perfect
results but that open questions should be presented as what they are: a
challenge in future work (and you are the one to work on it)!

   Sorry, this was long and is certainly not complete.  HTH

Dr. Sylvia R. Becker                  |  Phone:  +49 89 922094 39
Universitaetssternwarte Muenchen      |  Fax:    +49 89 922094 27
Scheinerstr. 1                        |  e-mail: becker at
D-81679 Muenchen, Germany

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