Presentation Guidelines

Best Practices for Poster and Oral Presentations

Follow these guidelines to have a successful presentation experience. In addition, be sure to watch our 2018 webinar, “Getting the Most Out of a Professional Scientific Meeting.” Sign-ups for the 2019 series will begin in Fall 2019.

Previous ABRCMS presentation awardees will only be assigned one judge and are not eligible for awards. Master's students will not be assigned judges and are ineligible to receive awards.  

Guidelines for Poster Presentations

NEW in 2019: The only items allowed to be adhered to the poster board are the poster and poster number. No other visuals are permitted. All images used within a poster must add to the scientific discussion. With the exception of the university logo, non-scientific images are not allowed. In addition, no computers or other aids may be used. Failure to abide by this policy will disqualify the presenter from receiving a presentation award.

Designing your poster
  • The poster board provided is approximately 4' high x 8' wide. Your poster presentation must fit within 4' high X 8' wide. Most posters range from 36'' to 96'' in length X 24'' to 48'' in width
  • Lay your poster sections in a logical order so that other scientists can follow your presentation. A good method is setting up your poster in a column format so that individuals interested can read your poster, 1st vertical, then top to bottom, and then left to right
  • Use a type size that can be read easily from a considerable distance (4 feet or more). Try using a type between 14 – 20 pt. The title should be larger than the rest of the text. Select a legible font such as Times Roman, Times New Roman, Baskerville or Palatino
  • Space your information proportionally: divide your poster either horizontally or vertically into three or four sections, and place your materials within those spaces. Like a layout of a magazine
  • Posters should stimulate discussion, not give a long presentation. Therefore, keep text to a minimum, emphasize graphics, and make sure every item in your poster is necessary
  • When choosing a background, remember that neutral or gray colors will be easier on the eyes than a bright color. In addition, color photos look best when mounted on gray

Preparing for the conference
  • Hand carry your poster to the meeting, using tubular packaging or a portfolio case. Do not mail your poster to the conference headquarters or to the meeting site
  • Come prepared with any relevant handouts you may wish to share and business cards to hand out
  • Be sure to bring pushpins, thumbtacks or velcro to mount your poster. They will not be provided to you at the conference

Presenting your poster
  • No computers or extra aids may be used during a poster presentation
  • Keep your poster presentation to about 5-8 minutes per visitor/judge and allow an additional 5 minutes for questions and answers
  • Try not to stand directly in front of your poster, allow other scientists to view the entire poster. Stand to the side

Guidelines for Oral Presentations

Preparing your PowerPoint
  • All PowerPoint presentations must have 16:9 dimensions (full aspect ratio). To ensure your PowerPoint presentation has the correct dimensions, open PowerPoint and click on the "Design" tab. Then select "Page Setup" and click the drop down for "Slides sized for" and select "On-screen Show(16:9)." Click "Ok" to save the changes. 
  • Sans serif type is typically more clean and legible (Arial or Geneva)
  • Upper and lower case lettering is more legible than all capital letters
  • Graphics you project on the screen to support the spoken word should help clarify ideas, emphasize key points, show relationships, and provide the visual information your audience needs to understand your message
  • Make sure the type is large enough to see in the size room you will use (room used at ABRCMS seats about 100)
  • Simple graphs, charts and diagrams are much more meaningful to an audience than complex, cluttered ones. Keep visuals CLEAR and SIMPLE
  • Use a minimum of words for text and title frames. Five to eight lines per frame and five to seven words per line are the maximum - less is better
  • Vary the size of lettering to emphasize headings and subheadings - but avoid using more than three font sizes per frame
  • Try to maintain the same or similar type size from frame to frame - even if some frames have less information
  • Each frame or slide should have a title.
  • Title of any data slide should be the conclusion reached from the presented material
  • Use the format that matches the material you are presenting. Use a table for exact values, a graph to show relationships, a figure for a picture, and a chart for a process or sequence. Label everything
  • Keep color scheme consistent throughout your presentation. Changing colors and type styles can be very confusing and distract from your message
  • Most effective background colors - blue, turquoise, purple, magenta. A good rule of thumb: use a dark background color with lighter color for text and graphics. Avoid intensely bright or saturated colors that compete with the text. You can never go wrong with black on white or white or yellow on dark blue
  • The background should be just a background. It shouldn't call attention to itself or cause clutter or confusion…it should enhance the foreground data
  • In addition to the use of graphics, photographs can provide an excellent means for communication

Giving your talk
  • All ABRCMS oral presentations will be given 10 minutes for the presentation and 5 minutes for questions and answers. Laser pointers will not be available, you must bring your own if you would like to use one
  • Check each slide in a similar room with similar equipment before your presentation. (ABRCMS rooms will be equipped with a computer and LCD project)
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Prepare for questions and answers
  • When asked a question during your presentation, repeat the question so that the entire audience knows what the question is
  • Keep to the allotted time


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