Presentation & Poster Development

Academic Writing and Presenting in English for Non-Native Speakers
Abstract: Development and Resources
Posters: Design Resources
Posters: Formatting Guidelines

Posters: Prof. Kono’s Poster Design & Presentation Tips
Posters: Printing at Rice University
Presentation and Communication Skills Resources
Rice University 90-second Thesis Competition
Videos and Workshops

Academic Writing and Presenting in English for Non-Native Speakers

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Abstracts: Development and Resources

Prior to preparing a draft of your abstract or presentation, it will be helpful to ask yourself the following questions.  Answering these questions may help you develop a more cohesive abstract and final presentation.

  1. Problem: What problem or question are you investigating?
  2. Importance: Why is solving this problem important? Why should others in your field care?
  3. Purpose: What are your objectives?
  4. Method: What experimental design or method(s) are you using to solve the problem? Why did you choose those methods rather than other possible methods?
  5. Context: How does your work fit into the context of similar work that other researchers have done?
  6. Results: What are your planned/anticipated findings? How do your results advance the field? What evidence do you have to support those results? (If you haven’t yet generated results, what results do you expect to produce?)
  7. Unique Contribution: What do you present that is new?
  8. Applications & Future Impact: What are some possible uses, either practical or theoretical, for your reported findings? What are the implications?
  9. Claim: Often a speaker will identify in a single sentence the problem, its importance, the method used to solve the problem, and the results. This is called the claim, as in the following example: This talk will demonstrate how a new algorithm that incorporates wavelet theory can decrease the number of dropped cell phone calls by 50% during peak usage hours. What is your claim for your presentation?
  10. Video: “Abstract Writing Workshop”, Dr. Tracy Volz, Senior Lecturer, Professional Communications, Rice Center for Engineering Leadership
  11. Other Abstract Development Resources

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Posters: Design Resources

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Posters: Formatting Guidelines

  • Poster Dimensions: Be sure you find out what the maximum or preferred poster dimensions and orientation is for the conference, workshop, or colloquium you will be presenting at. If you neglect to do this you may end up with a poster that is too large or small for the poster board or that has the incorrect orientation.
    • To set your poster dimensions in PPT go to File –> Page Setup and then enter the maximum width and height and select your orientation.
  • Orientation: In the U.S., typically posters are typically in landscape orientation but some conferences, particularly international conferences, may require vertically orientated posters.  Be sure you confirm with the conference organizers what the maximum height and length are as this will be an indication of what orientation you should use.  For the Nakatani RIES Fellowship posters should be landscape.
  • Dark/Solid Backgrounds: Be cautious of using a solid, dark-colored background. These can take a lot of ink to print and also take a long time to dry.  Using a solid, dark-colored background can increase the likelihood that your printed poster may smudge.  Printing large-scale, full-color posters is expensive uses a lot of ink and paper so you will likely only want to print these once.
  • Small-scale Test Print: We highly recommend printing an 8 1/2 X 11 or A4 copy of your final poster (in color) to review prior to printing.  This will help you catch minor errors or issues with your graphs, images, or charts that you may otherwise miss when editing posters on your computer.
  • Colors: Remember, every printer has different types of ink and the type of paper used for printing may also impact the final printed color may be different than what appears on your screen.  What looks grey or yellow on your computer screen may appear purple or green when printed.  This is another reason it is helpful to do a small version test-print as this often can give you an indication if your color choices are showing up the way you would like.
  • Images: To be sure that all of your images, graphs, and charts show up in your PPT or PDF version correctly, insert them directly into your document.  If you just copy and paste the images into your poster they may not print properly from the PPT or save properly when you convert to PDF.
  • Logos:  Ask your research host advisor/s what logos should be included on your poster as these may include your funding sponsor/agency, host university, host lab, and/or home university. If you include logos, be sure you use high-resolution image files and scale the logo properly when re-sizing.  Most U.S. universities have high-resolution logos on their website that you can search for.  For example, Rice’s logos can be found online here.
  • Match Title/Authors to Abstract: If you have previously submitted an abstract for your poster, be sure that the title, authors, and affiliations you list in the title section of your final poster exactly matches what was listed in your abstract.  Otherwise, attendees may not be able to easily find your poster as the title listed in the program schedule will not match the poster you are presenting.
  • Contact Information/Email: There may be times when you have to step away from your poster. Be sure to include your email address or preferred contact method on your poster so that those who are interested in learning more about your research or summer experience can write this down and contact you. This can also be helpful if you plan to display your poster at your home university.
  • Acknowledgements: Most posters will include an acknowledgements section where you recognize the funding agency or program that supported your research.  Nakatani RIES Fellows should including the following acknowledgements statement on all posters and presentations given about your summer research:
    • “This research project was conducted as part of the (20XX) Nakatani RIES Fellowship for (U.S./Japanese) Students with funding from the Nakatani Foundation. For more information see http://nakatani-ries.rice.edu/.”
    • You can also use this section to recognize individuals who have been especially helpful to you with your research project or program experience.
  • Example Poster: For a good example of a poster that adheres to all stated guidelines, and received a poster presentation award, see Rocco Vitalone’s abstract and poster from the 2015 NanoJapan: IREU Program.
  • Other Sample Posters: It may also be helpful to review other NanoJapan: IREU Alumni Posters from 2006 – 2015, especially from students who have previously done research on similar topics to what you are researching.

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Posters: Prof. Kono’s Poster Design & Presentation Tips

  • As in a scientific paper, the organization of your poster should follow the ‘IMRAD’ format, i.e., Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.
  • There should be very little text in your poster, most of the space being used for illustrations.  Crowds will gather around the simple, well-illustrated posters; cluttered, wordy posters will be ignored.
  • The great majority of bad posters are bad because the author is trying to present too much; huge blocks of typed materials, especially if the type is small, will not be read.
  • Use a variety of colorful illustrations; all kinds of photographs, graphs, drawings, paintings, X-rays, and even cartoons can be presented.
  • The title should be readable out to a distance of 10 feet; the typeset should be bold and black, and the type should be about 30 mm high.
  • Lots of white space throughout the poster is important; distracting clutter will drive people off.
  • Try to make it very clear what is meant to be looked at first, second, etc.
  • A poster should contain highlights so that passers-by can easily discern whether the poster is something of interest to them.
  • It is a good idea to prepare handouts containing more detailed information; colleagues with similar specialties will appreciate them. Print these out yourself (in Japan) and bring them with you to the SCI colloquium.

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Posters: Printing Posters at Rice University

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Presentation and Communication Skills Resources

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Rice University 90-second Thesis Competition

When you are presenting on your research at conferences or other events there are often strict time limits and you may have just 3 – 5 minutes for your talk. This time limit can seem challenging but reviewing these videos of Rice University’s 90-second Thesis Competition winners highlight how it is possible to present on research, even your thesis or dissertation, in less than two minutes.

For more resources and advice on preparing brief, informative, and compelling research presentations see the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication’s 90-second Thesis Resources page.

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Videos and Workshops

These videos were created as part of the 2011 Revserse NanoJapan Program in preparation for their research poster presentations at the 2011 Rice Quantum Institute Summer Research Colloquium.  They have been archived as a resource for future students.  All presentations were given by Dr. Tracy Volz, who is currently Director of the Program in Writing and Communication at Rice University.

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