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WORKSHOP: Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Fair

Tips to Prepare your Posters & Presentations for the Research Fair

In-person Poster Presentations

What to Bring

  • Business cards
  • paper/pen
  • research handout and copies of your bibliography
  • water
  • tape, binder clips, pushpin, or other tools to hang up your poster!

During the Session

  • Stand to the side of your poster so visitors can see it easily
  • Great visitors to your poster and make eye contact
  • Give them time to read your poster
  • Introduce yourself (you name, major, department, etc)

Answering Questions

  • Anticipate some common questions and practice responses
  • It's OK if you don't know the answer immediately, take down their contact information to follow up
  • If the question is outside your scope of research, its OK to say so. Keep the question in mind for a future project.


Oral Presentation Tips

Before your Presentation

  • A good presentation tells a story - thing about your research project and what story you want to tell about it.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice! If you have a chance practice in-front of someone else, so they can give you feedback.
  • Time yourself to make sure you don't go too long, or too short (presentations should run from 12-15 minutes)
  • Make notes on notecard or paper to help you remember, but don't read from them. 
  • Learn from others - think about what good presenters have done before to grab your attention. You can check YouTube or TED talks for inspiration


During your Presentation

  • Be sure to introduce yourself, and include some basic context for your research.
  • Assume that your audience has a limited background in your research area. Be sure to give a simple explanation of concepts. DON'T USE ACRONYMS UNLESS YOU EXPLAIN THEM FIRST!
  • Focus on the main points and outcomes of your research. You won't have time to go into too much detail, but it may be good to highlight one or two impactful examples.
  • Its often a good idea to include the "Why"s: Why your research is important, Why you decided to undertake your research.
  • Slow down! Most people talk too quickly during a presentation - it is good to keep reminding yourself to slow down.
  • Make sure to make eye contact with your audience
  • Speak up! Don't forget to talk loudly and clearly so you audience can understand you.


Additional Resources

PowerPoint Tips

Slide Content

  • Think about your slides AFTER you have outlined your presentation. Identify places where slides might
    • Help the audience follow along with the main points of your research
    • Help reinforce/highlight an important concept, research finding, or example
    • Help the audience visualize a concept or research data
  • Be judicious and purposeful - more slides don't necessary mean better presentation. The slides should support/augment your presentation, not distract!
  • Keep the content SIMPLE
    • Choose font that is easy to read. Don't use more than 2 or 3 fonts per presentation.
    • Make sure that the font size is big enough! Don't try to fit too much on a single slide.
    • Don't choose too many colors or wild backgrounds/themes - you want it to be easy for the audience to read the content.
    • Limit the number of words per slide - avoid long sentences and long lists of content. 
      • Guidelines can be 6 words per line - 6 lines per slide.



  • Make sure Images aren't just for "show." Choose images that add to your presentation and help you tell your story: help illustrate a concept or reinforce an idea.
  • If you did not create the image yourself make sure you cite the image and give credit to the owner.
  • Make sure graphs/tables are easy to read
    • Label them clearly - Use a font size that is easy for the audience to read. 
    • Think about accessibility - color choice for those who may be color-blind. Some projectors may also distort colors so make sure there is a clear contrast.
    • Only use graphs or tables that help support your presentation - don't just include data "just because"
  • Use SmartArt/Designer suggestions judiciously. They can add variety to your slides, but don't let the bells and whistles distract from the content.


Presenting with Slides

  • Use animations or transitions with caution - you don't want to distract the audience.
  • Practice your presentation with your slides, so you become comfortable with timing of transitions
  • Don't stand there and read from your slides. Make sure you keep your focus on your audience.
  • Backup your slides in multiple places, including a flash drive. It's also good to practice your presentation without the slides in case there is a major technology issue.


Additional Resources