Presenting a Virtual Poster: Lessons Learned by Gabby Huff, Anna Poole, Lauren Kennedy, and Rebecca Long

Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.


Greetings! We are Gabby Huff, Anna Poole, Lauren Kennedy, and Rebecca Long.  We are candidates in American University’s  Measurement and Evaluation M.S. program. Recently, we presented research posters at the virtual DC Consortium Student Conference on Evaluation & Policy (DCSCEP). As first-time presenters at a professional evaluation conference, we wanted to share the following tips and resources for preparing and presenting posters.

We presented on a variety of research we completed in our evaluation coursework. Our posters included various data collection methods, such as document review, surveys, participant observations, focus groups, and interviews. The topics varied ranged from leadership initiatives in high school interns, observing a student-led online activism program, using qualitative methods for process evaluation, understanding employee needs throughout stages of their careers, and evaluating the impact of equity focused math-teacher collaboration and professional learning. Regardless of the content, we found these tips helpful for designing our posters:

Hot Tips:

  • Create a story with your poster. Balance short summaries, bulleted text, and graphics to make it visually appealing and catch your audience’s attention. 
  • Provide a brief overview of your project such as partner background, methods, sampling, results, conclusions, and barriers–but stick to your story to avoid overcrowding your poster.
  • Use graphics strategically to illustrate important points, without overusing them.
  • Use colors to separate sections of information or use gradients of colors to draw the viewer’s eyes down the poster.
  • Don’t be afraid to call out the limitations or challenges faced. Go beyond a basic spiel and share the most impactful findings, like an unexpected lesson learned.
  • Get excited and enjoy giving the presentation. Deliver with enthusiasm and energy, as your attitude sets the tone for audience interest and engagement.
  • Don’t read directly from the poster slide.  Use the poster slide as an outline, but tailor your presentation to keep the audience engaged. Prepare talking points or a script ahead of time.
  • Ask a mentor or peer for feedback. Share your poster and practice your presentation with them. They can identify areas of improvement or points of confusion to clarify your story. Many of us worked with a partner for this research; sharing your poster draft with key collaborators provides an opportunity for them to provide input on how to disseminate your findings.

Rad Resources:

  • Check out Mike Morris’ work on Better Posters. You can also search #BetterPoster for resources and ideas.
  • Datawrapper – A customizable and user-friendly data visualization tool. Simply paste your data into the website and adjust the color scheme for a clean and clear presentation of your information.
  • Canva templates – These have great design options, but don’t be afraid to switch up the colors, section locations, or rename projects to fit your project.  Most Canva templates are modern takes on a poster, so make sure to design for your audience and remain professional in your visual delivery.
  • PowerPoint – You don’t have to learn a new tool! You can create an impactful poster with the PowerPoint templates available online. Most tend to be word-based, so can be extra helpful if you have many things to list or diagrams to add. Explore the Designer feature in PowerPoint. It can do wonders for the aesthetic.
  • Get guidance from a style guide like those from New York University or Penn State.
  • Ensure your final poster is accessible by checking the color contrast with the Compliance Contrast Checker.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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