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Volume 25 Issue 5 (May 2015)

GSA Today

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Article, pp. 66–68 | Full Text | PDF (165KB)

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Strategies for Creating a Conspicuous, Effective, and Memorable Poster Presentation

Jay P. Zarnetske1, Phoebe L. Zarnetske2

1 Dept. of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 288 Farm Lane, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA
2 Dept. of Forestry, Michigan State University, 480 Wilson Road, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA


Many of the major geoscience conferences are experiencing increased attendance, making it impossible to feature all oral presentations. Hence, the number and value of poster presentations are on the rise. For example, during the past 10 years, posters consistently comprised ~66% of the presentations at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, but overall poster numbers grew rapidly and now represent thousands of presentations each day (Fig. 1). Similarly, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly is now made up of 66% poster presentations, also resulting in thousands of poster presentations each day. Posters at the Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting comprised an average of 37% of presentations during the last decade.

Figure 1Figure 1

Number of recent poster presentations for three major geoscience conferences: GSA Annual Meeting, AGU Fall Meeting, and EGU General Assembly. Data provided by GSA, AGU, and EGU.

In light of the increasing number of posters at large geoscience conferences, authors must work hard to give conspicuous, effective, and memorable poster presentations. In all the chaos of the poster hall at large conferences—socializing, searching for beverages and bathrooms, and the hundreds to thousands of simultaneous presentations—you have a lot of competition for people’s attention. Here, we provide a “road map” of strategic steps for presenters who want their science to stand out among the rising sea of posters. We also point out some key open-access resources that will further improve posters when paired with these strategies.

Manuscript received 17 Aug. 2014; accepted 2 Dec 2014

doi: 10.1130/GSATG228GW.1