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CHEM 500 - Research Methods

Research tips & Resources for Chemistry Graduate Students

Poster Presentations

Posters are a snapshot of your work designed to start a conversation or convince the reader they want to learn more. They should be a summary that can stand on it's own if you're not present. They are time-consuming to prepare, but can lead to great collaborations and new colleagues when done effectively.

The following is a summary of some tips for Good Poster Presentations from the Public Library of Science (PLOS)

  1. Define the Purpose : Ask yourself ask yourself this: What do you want the person passing by your poster to do? Engage in a discussion about the content? Learn enough to go off and want to try something for themselves? Want to collaborate?
  2. Sell Your Work in 10 Seconds : You are going to have competition. You need to grab attention and be succinct
  3. The Title is Important : The title is a good way to Sell Your Work and draw readers in
  4. Identify your Audience & Provide the Appropriate Scope and Depth of Content
  5. Good Posters have Unique Features Not in Papers : including your presence! Posters can be a vehicle for you to distribute papers, supplementary information and handouts
  6. Layout and Form are Critical : "Guide the passerby's eyes from one succinct frame to another in a logical fashion from beginning to end."
  7. Keep It Concise : think clarity, precision of expression, and economy of words
  8. Think Impact During and After the Poster
    • During: Work to get a crowd by being engaging; one engaged viewer will attract others. Don't badger people, let them read; Work all the audience at once, do not leave visitors waiting for your attention; People are more likely to remember you than your work

    • After: Make it easy for a conference attendee to contact you afterward; Have the poster online and make the URL available as a handout; Have your e-mail and other demographics clearly displayed;


Source:  Erren TC, Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation. PLoS Comput Biol 3(5): e102.

Oral Presentations

Clear and logical delivery of your ideas and scientific results is critical for a successful scientific career. Presentations encourage broader dissemination of your work

The Following is a summary of some tips for Good Oral Presentations from the Public Library of Science (PLOS)

  1. Talk to the Audience : know audience members' backgrounds and present at the their knowledge level; what are they are hoping to get out of the presentation?
  2. Less is More : be clear, concise; draw participants into a dialog during the question-and-answer session
  3. Make the Take Home Message Persistent : What 3 things do you want the audience to remember after your presentation?
  4. Be Logical : Think of the presentation as a story with a beginning, middle and end
  5. Practice & Time Your Presentation : the more you practice the less likely you'll go off on tangents; practice in front of a group of peers
  6. Use Visuals Sparingly but Effectively : think no more than one visual for each minute you are talking
  7. Review Audio and/or Video of your Presentations
  8. Give Credit Where Credit is Due


Source: Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations. PLoS Comput Biol 3(4): e77.

The Craft of Scientific Presentations (ebook)

Alley, M. (2003). The craft of scientific presentations : critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid. Springer.

Provides examples of scientific presentations to show clearly what makes an oral presentation effective. It considers presentations made to:

  • Persuade an audience to adopt some course of action (such as funding a proposal)
  • Communicate information

It considers both from four perspectives: speech, structure, visual aids, and delivery


  • Use of computer-based projections, slide shows & overhead projectors
  • Ways of organizing graphics and text in projected images
  • Using layout and design to present the information efficiently and effectively
  • Advice from successful scientific and engineering presenters, active laboratory directors
  • Errors that cause many scientific presentations to flounder, providing a list of ten critical errors to avoid