By Clare Gurton

Getting your poster seen and read at an international or national conference can be something of a lottery – the space and location are decided for you and you may have only a few minutes in which to get your message across.

The audience is bombarded with hundreds of different messages during the course of the meeting and cannot hope to remember everything. While it is helpful to provide poster handouts, your poster must be competitive to succeed.

Two things are crucially important:

  • Make (1) your name and (2) your top-line message clear and very visible. The detail of any poster covers the factual data that support the message but is not the message itself; so if, for example, your data show that one product is economically superior to another, you need to say this several times in the same simple way – in the title (where possible), in the abstract and in the conclusions.
  • The poster needs to be designed so that this message is highlighted by use of colour, bold fonts and enlarged point sizes. Similarly, your name (or that of the first author) should be very visible and easy to read and remember. In this way, those who are interested in your data will retain the message and copy a name. When they return home after the meeting they are then easily able to get hold of all the other information either from the abstract book or by making contact.