Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tailor your poster to your audience

Previously I posted about the importance of tailoring a talk to the audience.
The same is true for posters.
You should not use the same poster for every conference!
The audience may be only theorists, only experimentalists, or a mix, only physicists, only chemists, a mix, only graduate students with diverse backgrounds, only specialists, .....
The background knowledge and the questions that each audience have will be dramatically different.

This post was stimulated by the recent Annual Postgraduate Poster day for the School of Mathematics and Physics at UQ. This is a great initiative as it gives students valuable experience and presenting a poster, and helps everyone get a better idea of what is going on in the School. However, I was struck by how most of the posters I looked at seemed to more appropriate for a specialist conference than for a general audience of physicists and mathematicians. Furthermore, when I asked some of the students to explain their poster to me some quickly resorted to technical jargon and I struggled to put their work in a broader context.

For such a general meeting people have really basic questions like.
What is this field about?
What are the important questions?
How does your work relate to that?
Have you got one simple concrete result that I can understand?

I am not claiming any of the above is easy. But impressing people and connecting with them never is.

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