Guidelines for Presenters

The following tips and information are intended to help you with drafting the highest possible quality abstract, designing an effective poster, and making a professional presentation.


Abstracts are limited to 350 words.  If it's appropriate for your discipline, we suggest you use the following format: Objective, Background, Hypotheses, Data, Methods, & Results/Conclusions.  However, we understand that projects in some disciplines will not easily conform to this format; if that is the case, use in general the conventions from your subject. 

Other tips and suggestions for writing abstracts can be found in the following links:

Judges will be looking for the following criteria when choosing abstracts for the oral presentation prize: clarity of the abstract, how well the abstract covers the full range of activities involved in the project, and the overall quality of the project.  Remember that you are addressing a general, but well-educated, audience of judges.  Your project should be comprehensible to a non-expert in your field, but also show the importance of your work and the quality of the research design.

Poster Design

Your poster size is limited to 36" X 48" maximum.  The size limitation is partially for logistical reasons, but having limited space also forces you to focus on the most important aspects of your research.

For additional tips, we suggest these sites. The first is very comprehensive on all aspects of effective poster design and presentations. The second also includes links to examples, both good and bad. The third provides concise tips.

Consult with your home institution on the logistics of printing your poster, but please remember that you will likely need to have your poster completed a day or two before the symposium.


To make the most of your presentation, be sure to dress professionally and be approachable. Practice your talk and have several versions- a brief (no more than 2 minutes) of summary for judges, a short (no more than 5 minute) version for the casual audience member, and additional information for audience members from your own field who will also have the same technical background.

Other tips for making the most out of your poster presentation can be found in these sites.

Professional Etiquette

You will benefit from having an audience for your work; it is important to extend the same courtesy to your fellow presenters.  The poster event will be divided into two sessions. You will be presenting in one of the two sessions so that you can visit other posters during the other session.  A research community is best when the audience is respectful, asks good questions, and has a conversation with the presenter. During your "off" session, your role is to be a good audience for others. You will benefit from seeing other works- it may give you good ideas for your own research, you may find a future research partner, you may get design or presentation ideas for future poster sessions, and you will undoubtedly learn something interesting from your peers at other institutions.