You have the exciting opportunity to share your research with the public at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. It is important that you create your research poster in a way that best presents the information you want to share. See below for tips.
- What is a Poster Session?
Posters are widely used in the academic community, and most conferences include poster presentations in their program. Research posters summarize information concisely and attractively to help publicize the research and generate discussion. The poster should include brief text along with graphics and graphs. At the event, you should stand by your poster display while the public comes to view it and interact with you. Be prepared to talk about your research.
- What Makes a Good Poster?
- Important information should be readable from 4 to 6 feet away.
- The title should be short and draw interest. It should not contain chemical names.
- The text should be minimal, clear, and to the point. Use fonts that are easy to read such as Times New Roman, Garamond, and Arial. The text should be at least 18-24 pt, headings 30-60 pt, and title greater than 72 pt.
- Use bullets, numbering, and headlines to make your poster easy to read. Organize your content into columns, sections, headings, and blocks of text, and be sure to leave empty space (white space) between them.
- Effectively use graphics, color, and fonts. Do not use more than 2-3 font styles. Color can be used to attract attention, but you should have a color scheme. Red-green color blindness affects a significant number of people, so try to avoid using these colors next to each other (for example, in adjacent slices in a pie chart). Yellow can be a “weak” color that is unsuitable for thin outlines and lines on a graph.
- Use a consistent and clean layout. Choose colors carefully: dark print on a light background is best. Left-justify text within text boxes or fully justify blocks of text.
- Break up the layout. Many posters use flat rectangular text/image boxes. These boxes are helpful for organizing the content but also make the content feel static. Consider rounding the box corners or cutting off a corner of a box here and there. Let an image "grow" over the box border into another box, or let the box with the most important content overlap the other boxes a little bit.
- Include acknowledgements: your names(s) and school/youth organization, mentors, and the Space Station Explorers logo.
- Edit your poster carefully for typographic or grammatical mistakes and image quality before the final print-out (use the print preview function).
- Most students use Microsoft PowerPoint to design posters. Be sure to begin by setting the page size to your final poster size. More sophisticated programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop are other design options.
- Technical Aspects: Graphics and Text
Your poster will contain graphics and text. You can find comprehensive poster layout instructions, including advice on font sizes, use of color and background graphics, graphics resolution, use of charts and graphs, and other considerations that one should take into account, on the Makesigns Scientific Poster site.
- Interacting with Your Audience
To do a poster presentation, you should prepare an “elevator speech”—a one- to two-minute summary of your project that you could deliver to anyone during a typical elevator ride. Make sure you have a story to tell that starts with an introduction, then discusses the experiment, and then highlights expected results. Do not start with the expected results during your presentation.
Here are five questions you should be able to answer easily:
- What is my poster presentation about?
- Why am I doing this and what do I hope to add to this field of research?
- What are the methods I am using?
- What conclusions might I come to from the data I collect?
- What recommendations might I have based on results from this research?
Do not wait for viewers to ask you a question. Rather, say, “Would you like to hear about my research?” This frees them from having to read your poster and figure it all out themselves. Then offer to answer questions. If you don’t know an answer, admit it, provide a speculation, and ask what the viewer thinks. Be sure to check to see if the viewer understands the technical aspects of your explanation and if what you are saying makes sense.
Practice your delivery to others before the poster session. Be sure to speak loudly enough to be heard, slow enough to be understood, and without fillers like “um,” “uh,” “like,” “you know,” and “okay.”