6 Tips for Pharmacy Students Presenting Posters at a Conference

Presenting a research poster at a conference as a pharmacy student can initially seem like a nerve-racking experience, but it can be very rewarding as you develop professionally and personally.

Presenting a research poster at a conference as a pharmacy student can initially seem like a nerve-racking experience, but it can be very rewarding as you develop professionally and personally.

Here are a few tips to help your poster session run smoothly and successfully:

1. Print your poster early.

Once your abstract has been accepted and you have put the finishing touches on your poster, do not wait until the last minute to have it printed. There are many different ways you can print a poster, and you should seek out the method that best fits your needs.

If your university has an associated medical center, it will typically provide printing services free of charge or at a reduced rate for students. Depending on the size of the medical center and department of medicine, the queue for printing may be long. If you seek this method of printing, you should schedule your appointment well ahead of time to make sure it is complete in time for the conference.

If you completed your research with a company, inquire within to see if there is a print shop that can fulfill your request. Depending on the company, it may even provide this service to you for free.

If your institution does not offer such services, local mail and printing stores can be an option, though prices tend to run high. Alternatively, there are many online companies that provide these services geared specifically towards scientific posters.

Online printing may be a good option for you if you plan on flying to the conference and do not want to drag a poster tube with you on the airplane. Many online poster-printing services offer direct delivery of your poster to the conference venue, or to your hotel room where you will be staying for the event.

The downside to these delivery services is not being able to see your poster and check for printing errors ahead of time.

2. Arrive to set your poster up early.

Depending on the size of the conference, the poster hall may be filled with hundreds to thousands of poster presenters. Make sure you arrive early so you can find your spot and have your poster set up before viewers come by.

Most venues will not provide the extra materials you may need to set up your poster, so make sure to bring some spare thumbtacks, pushpins, binder clips, or other fastening devices so you aren’t scrambling to find these when you arrive at your board.

3. Be prepared to provide explanations.

Posters are a great way to provide a quick synopsis of your research; however, they are usually not fully inclusive.

In addition, not everyone walking by will be interested in reading your entire poster. You should be prepared to provide a quick (under a minute) synopsis of your poster verbally to a viewer.

Keep in mind that viewers may pay more attention to your figures and graphs than the text, so make sure you are able to explain your figures in a quick and comprehensive way.

Some conferences may have prizes for the best posters in certain categories. Having a succinct explanation of your poster ready can score some points with the judges. This also shows you are knowledgeable about your research and are well organized.

4. Consider having handouts ready.

Poster sessions are unique in that your actual poster is not published. Rather, your abstract can be found in the publication of the poster proceedings.

Printing a few copies of your poster in a miniature version on standard letter-sized paper will allow you to provide a copy to an interested viewer who may want to refer to your work at a later time. This is certainly not required, but it can be bonus if a viewer asks.

5. Have business cards ready.

You never know who is going to approach you. Poster sessions are a great way to show off the hard work you have been putting into a project, but these sessions also serve as great networking opportunities.

Many people will stop and talk to you about your poster. This is an excellent opportunity to hand out your business card and help build your professional network.

Depending on the type of research you are presenting, you may catch the eye of someone who is doing similar work or is very interested in the work you are doing. This may open new doors to research collaborations or even job offers.

6. Make it known that you’re a presenter.

Many conferences will have ribbons that you can attach to your nametag signifying your involvement in other activities. Having a “Poster Presenter” ribbon added to your nametag can help you stand out from the crowd in networking situations.

When potential employers or residency programs see your ribbon, they may initiate conversation with you, further inquiring about your poster.

Presenting a poster at a conference as a student can be a daunting task, but the benefits to your professional development are great. Remember to be prepared, arrive on time, and stay confident.