Meet the Author Poster Session Guidelines
TRB Poster Sessions are a valuable opportunity for authors to present papers and meet with interested attendees for in-depth technical discussions. TRB poster sessions are very well attended and a popular feature of the Annual Meeting. Good planning can make your presentation clear, effective and rewarding – bringing an incomprehensible poster presentation is a missed opportunity for authors and viewers. Designing effective posters requires careful thought and advanced preparation. Posters that are simply a PowerPoint presentation or short manuscript do not
The goals in designing a poster should be:
- To attract attention,
- To provide a clear overview of your work,
- To provide enough material to explain the research without an oral explanation, and
- To provide enough material to initiate discussion and questions.
The next section of these guidelines will provide the details of a TRB poster session. The remaining material is a compilation of suggestions from poster authors, viewers, and other conference organizers.
NOTE: The standard poster session at the 2014 TRB Annual Meeting will be one hour and 45 minutes (1.75 hours) in duration - the same as lectern sessions. Poster session presenters and attendees are urged to play close attention to the starting and ending times for each poster session.
TRB Poster Session Details
TRB Poster Sessions run in the morning (8:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), in the afternoon (2:00 p.m.-3:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.-6:00 p.m.), and in the evening (7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.) Authors should plan to arrive 15 minutes before the poster session to set-up. Poster numbers are sent to each author prior to the Annual Meeting and a floor plan in the poster room will show the assigned poster location. Authors are responsible for promptly removing all materials at the end of the session, or they will be removed and recycled.
Poster session presenters and attendees are urged to pay close attention to the starting and ending times for each poster session. Noting the value of the inter-session times in attracting visitors to posters, most of the poster session times have been offset by 30 minutes from the starting and ending times of parallel lectern sessions. In addition, poster session presenters will need to be efficient in setting up and removing their posters, as there will be as little as 30 minutes between poster sessions in the same room. Poster session presiding officers will be asked to assist in ensuring a timely transition between poster sessions.
TRB will provide each presenter with a 4 feet (121 cm) high by 8 feet (242 cm) wide gray display board. There will be a narrow table in front of each display board for materials. An electrical outlet will be available for laptop computers only. Push pins will also be provided. The posters are located in public space so poster presenters are responsible for the security of their own computers. Presenters are advised to bring a cable lock to help secure their equipment. Poster presenters may use a computer to show additional information or illustrations similar to that shown in a lectern session presentation. Commercial advertising of products or services is not allowed. Note that as in previous years, Internet and telephone access, sound, VHS, DVD, overhead, 35mm slide projectors, and other equipment are not
Posters are attached to the display boards with push pins provided by TRB. Lightweight poster board or paper will stay up – foam core will not. The boards are rented and may not be written on or defaced in any way. There are no provisions for making posters at the meeting, receiving, storing, or returning poster to authors.
Suggestions from Poster Authors, Viewers, and Other Conferences1
Simplicity and clarity are the keys to an effective poster.
General Design Suggestions
- Simplicity - Avoid overwhelming viewers with too much information, the casual viewer should be able to identify the main messages after a quick look at the poster. Remember the full paper is on the compendium of papers and handouts may be provided.
- Clarity - Identify a limited number of messages viewers should take away – 3 is about the maximum number possible. The messages should be clear, novel, and important.
Poster Content– the specific elements will depend on the research
- Viewers find it easier to follow a poster printed on one large sheet with the material arranged in columns. Arrange material in a logical sequence that is clear to readers (typically starting at top left and ending at bottom right.)
- Strong visual contrast is critical – many people have trouble distinguishing between closely related colors. For example approximately 7 percent of the male population—either cannot distinguish red from green, or see red and green differently.
- Text and illustrations should be easily readable from 3 feet away.
- Color is a good tool to highlight important points, however too many colors make poster look “busy” and make it difficult for viewers to find the critical points.
- Use pictures, graphs, and tables instead of text where possible – try for 50% graphics.
- Text should be dark on white or light paper
- Long paragraphs will not be read – use short statements or bullet points.
- Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon
- Try to state your main results in 6 lines or less
- Use sans serif fonts (ex. Arial or Helvetica) not serif fonts (ex. Times Roman)
- Charts, drawings, and illustrations should be similar to those used in PowerPoint presentations but simpler and more heavily drawn
- Illustrations should include titles or labels, labeled axes and identified units
Presenting your poster
- Title, poster and paper number, author names, institutional affiliation - Letters 1 - 2” high – across the top of the poster
- Introduction / Objectives
- Statistical or Analytical Methods
- Summary / Results
- Future Directions
Steps to produce a poster
- prepare a short presentation (about 5 minutes) to give periodically to those assembled around the poster
- have handouts and/or business cards
- Sketch paper and a couple of markers can help in conversations with viewers
- Start with a set of initial sketches.
- Chose the best sketch and make a rough draft at the final poster size.
- A chalkboard or white board is a good starting point.
- Have colleagues or peers review the rough draft.
- Finalize the poster content and print a draft version – check that the poster is legible from 3 feet; the color contrast is sufficient, etc.
- Print the final version.
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