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Preparing your presentation

Pitch | Explain your poster

Know your audience To be able to pitch effectively you need to know your audience.

Ask the question “who are they?”, “what would they already know about this topic” and “why would they care?” If you don’t know – find out now, by using Google, LinkedIn and Twitter! You have a short space of time to convince them, so you should be focusing on what they want the most.

Prepare your "elevator pitch" or "flash talk". This one minute YouTube Tedx video is a great example of an elevator pitch. These are also similar to the 3 Minute Thesis, where you are given 3 minutes to explain your research project. Check YouTube for examples like this one. Flash talks are often given at conferences during poster sessions - check out the example included here (about the 1:00 minute mark).

Consider covering the following points:

  • why your research topic is important
  • significant findings
  • what might be the next steps, and
  • why does it matter.

What's the take home message? Spend about 30 - 40 seconds on each of these points and include a take home message, to develop the basis of a strong pitch.

First impressions count too. They will see the poster and then listen to your pitch.

  • Is your main idea clearly communicated on the poster?
  • If they were to only remember one thing about your poster what would it be?
  • What is the take home message? How will you make them care?

Prepare answers to question you think you might be asked

  • What might they want to know more about?
  • You don’t have to know everything, but you do need to know how to deal with questions you don’t know the answer to.
    • Be honest and say you don’t know but ask if they would like you to follow up on it with them.
  • Be brief in your reply and stay focused on answering their question.

Watch these students from the University of Rochester present their posters. The YouTube video is 9 minutes long but contains multiple pitches for you to see. Think about the ones you engaged with more and why and apply that element to your own poster presentation and pitch.