Creating a compelling poster (2022)

Use poster presentations to spread the word about your study or project.

Takeaways:

  • Effective posters convey key information and provide presenters with an opportunity to share their research and projects through meaningful dialogue.
  • Successful posters follow conference guidelines and include compelling and esthetically pleasing titles, text, and graphics.
  • Presenters should be prepared to concisely describe their project and answer questions.

Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series designed to help nurses disseminate their expertise.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of successfully implementing a project or conducting research is dissemination, including poster presentations. When presented effectively, post­ers can convey key information to large audiences and provide presenters with an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue on their topic.

In addition to sharing best practices and innovations, communicating project and research outcomes in internal and external workgroups also supports professional nurse development. Posters are a win–win opportunity for sharing new knowledge and information at local, state, and national levels to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes.

What makes a successful poster presentation?

Successful poster presentations have two main elements: a compelling poster and an engaging presenter. A conference poster should draw in viewers and describe the project clearly (especially important for situations when the presenter isn’t present with the poster), and the presenter should be able to succinctly describe their project and answer questions. The poster should be informative and spark ideas among viewers, who can take the information to their organizations and replicate it, making viewers potential collaborators.

To ensure a successful poster presentation, follow the conference guidelines; create compelling and esthetically pleasing titles, text, and graphics; and be prepared to concisely describe your project and answer questions. (See Poster checklist.)

Poster checklist

Use this checklist when you create a poster presentation.

Layout and design

  • Use suggested font sizes, and be consistent with font style.
  • Check the overall organization, layout, and design.
  • Use viewer-friendly colors (for example, blue, green).

Content

(Video) How to create a better research poster in less time (#betterposter Generation 1)

  • Make all sections succinct.
  • Ensure data are self-explanatory.
  • Make images/graphics clear and relevant.

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation

  • Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors; ask a colleague to review.

Other technical items

  • Check for completeness based on the organizer’s poster template guidelines.
  • Include appropriate citations and references.
  • Include your contact information.

Creating a compelling poster (1)

Creating a compelling poster (2)

Creating a compelling poster (3)

From Sherman R. Writing for presentations. In: Saver C, ed. Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses. 4th ed. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma; 2021; 215-26.

Poster template

A conference’s poster template guidelines typically include poster size, headings, and other key elements.

Size. The conference organizer will set a standard poster dimension or a minimum and maximum. Typical sizes at U.S. conferences range from 30″ X 40″ to 48″ X 96″ in either portrait or landscape format.

General format and category. Will your poster presentation be traditional (paper), digital/electronic, or oral? At large conferences, traditional poster presentations are typ­ical. Some conference organizers may run a competition with winning posters invited for a brief oral presentation. In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many conferences moved to a virtual platform, with digital poster presentations.

Organizers may create poster categories, such as research, quality improvement, evidence-based practice, and education. The general headings required for each category will be stated in the abstract acceptance notification.

(Video) Creating Compelling and Well-Designed Posters, Presentations & Charts

Software

The software most commonly used to create posters is Microsoft PowerPoint. Many healthcare professionals are familiar with this easy-to-use program. Your organization may already have a template, or a free version of a PowerPoint template can be downloaded from the web. Other programs used to create posters include Adobe Illustrator, LaTeX, and InDesign.

Content and layout

Title. Regardless of the primary aim of your poster, the title should catch viewers’ attention and make sense without further explanation. Here are some examples:

  • Road to Zero HAPI—A performance improvement project on reduction of hospital acquired pressure injury (HAPI) (Vohra E, Shaw J. September 2020. 2020 Weill Cornell Medicine Poster Symposium, New York, NY)
  • Project P.E.A.C.H.© (Pathway & Education towards Adherence, & Completion in Hepatitis C) (Redulla R. May 2013. 48th Annual Course, Society of Gastroenterology Nurses & Associates, Austin, TX)

Some conference organizers specify a word count, so be sure to follow their guidelines.

Headings. Check the organizer’s requirements for specific sections. Generally, posters include these headings:

  • Background and problem. What’s the clinical practice or patient outcome problem? Why is the research or project important?
  • Purpose
  • Research questions (for research projects)
  • Specific aims (for quality improvement projects)
  • PICO (Problem, Intervention, Comparison intervention, Outcome for evidence-based practice projects)
  • Methods (design, instruments, data and analysis, sample description). Choose an appropriate design based on the type of project. For example, quantitative and qual­itative designs for research; Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA), A3, and Lean for quality improvement.
  • Results. Present primary, meaningful, and statistically significant information in text and graphs.
  • Conclusions and implications. How are the findings important for practice, policy, and subsequent research? What conclusions are drawn from your results? Be clear and succinct to encourage viewers to replicate the project.

Design tips

Font. Popular fonts include Times New Roman, Rockwell, Georgia, and Baskerville. The conference organizer may specify acceptable fonts. Because hundreds of posters may be in the presentation area, your title should be in a large font. Patience and colleagues recommend these font sizes: title, 72 point; authors, 48; affiliations, 36; subheads, 48; text, 30; graph text, 28; references, 20.

Color. Many organizations have poster templates that reflect their branding colors, and they may require employees to use that template for all internal and external presentations. Conference organizers also may require use of their own template, which supersedes organization requirements.

If you’re designing your own poster, use color to highlight, separate, define, and associate information, and keep the background color subtle. For example, use navy blue for all of the title and subheads and beige for the background.

Photos and graphics. Use only high-resolution images and graphics. These visuals add meaning to your poster and create balance. Before using your own photos that include colleagues, obtain written consent. If you want to use someone else’s photos (whether a professional photographer or colleague) request permission. Also consider purchasing stock photography from sites such as Shutterstock or iStock. Avoid including photos with colors too similar to the poster’s background.

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Tables and graphs. Use tables and graphs to highlight key takeaways from your project with bullet points and short sentences to summarize information. Graphs present data visually. For example, use bar graphs to show data trends or pie charts to show composition (such as demographic information).

Managing space. You want your poster to be easy to read and esthetically pleasing, so you’ll need to manage the positive space (text and content) and negative space (background). The poster shouldn’t be overcrowded with text and images, but it also shouldn’t have too much empty space. Check spacing above and below subheads and around images to ensure it’s consistent.

Print your poster. Before printing the poster, invite peers to review it for design and accuracy, including grammar and spell­ing errors. For first-time presenters, ask colleagues for a printer recommendation. When you contact the printer, ask what file formats are accepted, the anticipated turnaround time, and when you can expect a final proof for review.

Paper posters are common, but you might want to consider fabric, which can be folded and packed in your luggage. But remember, never check your poster with the airline. Carry it with you at all times.

Presentation day

When you arrive at the conference, check the location for the poster presentations. The organizer should provide you with instructions, including the date and time allowed to put up your poster. For presentation day, prepare an elevator pitch to optimize your time with the audience, be ready to answer questions about your work, and bring printouts of your poster to distribute to attendees. At the end of the designated poster display time, promptly remove your poster as instructed by the organizer.

E-poster and virtual presentations

The first steps in preparing for a digital (e-poster) or virtual presentation are the same as those required to prepare a traditional poster. However, presentation day will be different.

For e-posters, the organizer provides each presenter with a display screen and laptop for the poster session. Some conferences may publish the e-posters on their website.

For a virtual presentation, you’ll be asked to submit your poster file ahead of time. Most virtual presentations occur in one of two ways. In the first option, the organizer creates a site within the conference platform to display the posters. In some cases, you may be allowed to record 3 to 5 minutes of audio to accompany the poster. Conference attendees can view the posters at any time. In the second option, the organizer develops a synchronous presentation platform with breakout sessions. Your poster will be assigned for presentation in one of the sessions.

Oral presentations

Some conferences provide an opportunity for oral presentations at a location near the poster hall. The oral presentations are brief and may have a question-and-answer session at the end.

(Video) Writing a compelling abstract

Effective dissemination

Dissemination is a critical component of project completion. Posters, when done right, are an effective way to share research and new knowledge, showcase improved processes, and describe evidence-based practices. Poster presentations also provide opportunities for professional development, allow you to be recognized as an expert in your field, and highlight your organization. AN

Access sample posters at myamericannurse.com/?p=112440.

Rhoda Redulla is the Magnet Program Director at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, New York, and the author of Fast Facts for Making the Most of Your Career in Nursing.

References

Berg J, Hicks R. Successful design and delivery of a professional poster. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017;29(8):461-9. doi:10.1002/2327-6924.12478

Calbraith D. How to develop and present a conference poster. Nursing Stand. 2020;35(9):46-50. doi:10.7748/ns.2020.e11468

Farrington M. Sharing knowledge through poster presentations. ORL – Head and Neck Nursing. 2018;36(1):4-6.

Patience GS, Boffito DC, Patience P. Communicate Science Papers, Presentations, and Posters Effectively. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science; 2015.

Pavlovich-Danis S. All about graphics and tables. In: Saver C, ed. Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses. 4th ed. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma; 2021; 93-108.

Redulla R. Making a difference in research, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. In: Redulla R, ed. Fast Facts for Making the Most of Your Career in Nursing. New York City, NY: Springer Publishing; 2020; 95-96.

Rowe N. Academic & Scientific Poster Presentation. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing; 2017.

University of Guelph Learning Services. How to Create a Poster. ovc.uoguelph.ca/core/sites/default/files/files/How%20to%20Create%20a%20Poster%20(Handout).pdf

(Video) Creating Compelling Portraits by Carolyn Mendelsohn

Sherman R. Writing for presentations. In: Saver C, ed. Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses. 4th ed. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma; 2021; 215-26.

FAQs

What are the qualities of a good poster? ›

At its core, a poster is made up of four key features: a title, graphic(s), text, and white space. Layout, flow, and color affect the order and style of these four key features.

What makes a poster attract attention of the viewers? ›

A combination of effective images, intriguing colours and snappy text. Whether simple or complex, colourful or understated, if you get all the design variables right for your event or product, you can design a poster that makes your audience stop and take notice.

What is the purpose of poster? ›

The main function of a poster is to capture a moving audience with a message. When designing a poster, plan its design carefully.

What is the goal objective of posters? ›

A poster is a usually large sheet with images and text which aims at conveying certain information and making it noticeable for the target audience. Also, they can be presented small sizes, for example, digital version or postcards.

What are the challenges in making a poster? ›

Common problems
  • Clutter: It's hard to generalize the sources of clutter. ...
  • Proximity: People underestimate how much white space they need around objects. ...
  • Text greyness: Even though my students generally do a good job of making the text large enough to be readable, they often end up with too much of it.
14 Nov 2013

How do I start a poster presentation? ›

You should introduce your poster presentation with a “1 Minute Pitch” that can sometimes stretch a bit longer than one minute. You don't want to “give everything away” so to speak, but rather capture the audience's interest, introduce yourself and the project, and spark a dialogue.

What are the benefits of a poster? ›

Posters are a great way to spread brand awareness.

A custom poster can help you make an immediate visual impact on your audience. In addition to this, they give your message a lot of exposure, and when they are placed in high traffic areas, posters allow you to reach many different types of people.

What are the principles of poster? ›

Seven Elements of Design posters illustrate and explain value, color, form, shape, line, space, and texture, and seven Principles of Design posters illustrate and explain contrast, rhythm, unity, emphasis, pattern, movement, and balance.

What makes a poster eye catching? ›

The headline should be the largest element, followed by subheadings of medium size and body text in the smallest font. There should be only one headline, but you can have as many sub-headings or body text as you want. Keep it simple and give the viewer's eye plenty of room to rest.

What is the most important characteristic of a poster? ›

A poster must capture the attention and get the message across in a matter of seconds. It must capture the reader's interest in taking the desired action through a brief message packed with punch and detail!

How do you bring attention to a poster? ›

Here's how to grab people's attention with one:
  1. Use sharp graphics and bold colors. The design is what will first draw people in.
  2. Use a catchy headline. Make people want to take a couple of seconds to find out more.
  3. But keep it simple. Don't overload with text. ...
  4. Place in high-traffic areas.
3 Feb 2018

How do you attract people to a poster? ›

Follow these design tips and start with one of the event poster templates below.
  1. Leave plenty of white space in your poster design.
  2. Use a color filter help text stand out from your poster background.
  3. Use a single bold font color to highlight important information.
  4. Incorporate the theme of your event in your poster design.
17 Oct 2018

Why posters must be attractive? ›

The practical nature of posters, however, does not mean that they cannot be aesthetically pleasing. To the contrary, the more attractive a poster is, the more effective it is in imparting its message. The primary purpose in designing an attractive poster is to capture people's attention.

When making a poster what should be included in the layout? ›

Content Layout
  1. Banner. This is the section at the top which includes the title of the poster, the author(s), and the authors' affiliations. ...
  2. Columns. Below the banner, a poster usually includes three or four columns of content. ...
  3. Alignment. ...
  4. Balance and Spacing. ...
  5. White Space. ...
  6. Organization. ...
  7. Consistency. ...
  8. Color.
28 Apr 2022

Why do you need to apply emphasis in your poster? ›

Emphasis is used in art to attract the viewer's attention to a particular area or object. This is typically the focal point or main subject of the artwork.

How do posters help students? ›

Posters help to focus and motivate children to learn. It's an effective way to catch and hold the attention of young children, as well as helps to maintain their interest in a particular area. They are convenient both for children and parents/teachers, as they help them to absorb the information MUCH faster.

Are posters effective for education? ›

Posters are an extremely useful and important tool for teachers. They help enable visualisation in the classroom which can be uniquely beneficial in furthering student learning. Research within the field of cognitive science has proven that information displayed in a visual manner can support students immensely.

What are the advantages of poster as a learning media? ›

Posters are used to motivate students to learn specific topics. Posters help learners to focus on a certain idea, event, fact or process. Posters are a convenient way for both students and teachers to help students understand the topics a lot faster.

Why do advertisers create an attractive poster? ›

They have the ability to cause a rapid response in customers. A good poster can arouse empathy, connecting your company to the hearts and minds of customers with emotive visual imagery demanding attention. So to get noticed and get connected to your customers, poster advertising never fails.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using posters? ›

Advantages and disadvantages of posters
  • Advantages. A poster speaks for itself; the presence of its author is not necessary. ...
  • Disadvantages. Once a poster is printed it will be difficult to make corrections or adaptions; it is therefore less flexible when compared to a presentation that can be modified any time. ...
  • Conclusion.

How are posters used to communicate? ›

PIP: The poster as a medium of communication serves to transmit a message by means of a graphical synthesis. It elicits attention by its originality, contrast, and focus on the center of interest. The poster is effective if the images and slogans can be identified easily.

What is the standard format of a poster? ›

Standard poster size should be: A1 format (Width: 594mm x Length: 841mm). Posters can be pinned horizontally or vertically. Remember not to make the font size too small because posters will also be made available on conference flash discs.

How do you describe a poster? ›

A poster is a large sheet that is placed either on a public space to promote something or on a wall as decoration. Typically, posters include both textual and graphic elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or wholly text. Posters are designed to be both eye-catching and informative.

What questions are asked at a poster presentation? ›

While not a traditional presentation, poster sessions give you a different communication experience.
...
You can use that time to answer three big questions:
  • What is the topic?
  • What did you find? Or What are the results?
  • Why is this important?

How do posters create awareness? ›

Posters and flyers are an efficient tool to influence the public opinion because they can reach wide and specific audiences (children, women), and they are accessible to people who are otherwise isolated by illiteracy or poverty.

Why are posters and flyers important? ›

Posters and flyers can be a remarkably effective way of getting your message out to the public. Whether you want to generate support for a project, raise awareness about an event, or inform the public about a community issue, posters and flyers help you communicate with community members.

What makes a good design? ›

Good design is a concept defined by industrial designer Dieter Rams's principles: It makes a product useful and understandable, is innovative, aesthetic, unobtrusive, honest, long-lasting, thorough to the last detail, environmentally friendly, and involves as little design as possible.

Do I need references on my poster? ›

Your paper already has all the relevant references, and so (in most cases) there's no need to waste valuable space repeating them on the poster. If you are talking about a poster that does not accompany a published paper, then you should use your best judgment about whether references serve a useful purpose.

Why are graphics important in a poster? ›

Graphics can engage the attention of viewers, which is good. But be sure that the graphic elements reinforce your content rather than distracting attention away from it. You don't need to include all of these in a single poster. Your choice of graphics depends on your purpose.

What is poster promoting? ›

A promotional poster is defined as a type of poster created and designed in various colors, materials, mechanisms, shapes, sizes, and styles used by a business, company or organization to promote their goods, products, or services.

How do I start a poster presentation? ›

You should introduce your poster presentation with a “1 Minute Pitch” that can sometimes stretch a bit longer than one minute. You don't want to “give everything away” so to speak, but rather capture the audience's interest, introduce yourself and the project, and spark a dialogue.

Why do advertisers create an attractive poster? ›

They have the ability to cause a rapid response in customers. A good poster can arouse empathy, connecting your company to the hearts and minds of customers with emotive visual imagery demanding attention. So to get noticed and get connected to your customers, poster advertising never fails.

What makes a good poster lesson? ›

Brevity and clarity are key when creating an eye-catching poster. Tell children to take a critical eye to their posters and edit down the message and pictures. Cluttering a poster with dozens of images or adding paragraph after paragraph of lettering is visually confusing and won't grab viewers' attention.

What is the format of a poster? ›

Standard poster size should be: A1 format (Width: 594mm x Length: 841mm). Posters can be pinned horizontally or vertically. Remember not to make the font size too small because posters will also be made available on conference flash discs.

What questions are asked at a poster presentation? ›

While not a traditional presentation, poster sessions give you a different communication experience.
...
You can use that time to answer three big questions:
  • What is the topic?
  • What did you find? Or What are the results?
  • Why is this important?

How do I present a poster in 5 minutes? ›

How to Present an Academic Research Poster - YouTube

How long is a poster presentation? ›

A poster session might last for a half-hour, or it might last for three hours, depending on the meeting or conference. You'll be expected to stay near your poster during the entire session, and to be available if people have questions or want to talk about your research.

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