Tips and Links: Making Conference Posters and Presentation


The Alabama Association of Historians is less formal than many academic conferences, but the quality of your presentation or poster, as well as the insight and information you offer, should be high.

Here are some tips for making conference presentations and posters.  These links might appear to be too academic or not specific to history, but their advice holds true across the board.


General Information

A "Session" or "Panel" traditionally consists of three presenters and a moderator who might also comment on the papers/presentations, usually within a 60-90 minute timeframe.  The moderator introduces the presenters and each presenter talks for 15-20 minutes.  If there is a commenter, you will have sent them a copy beforehand, and they will take a few minutes to critique.  The moderator will open the floor for questions.

Pointers:  Presenters lecture from notes or even read prepared papers.  If reading, it takes two minutes to read a page of double-spaced text, so a fifteen-minute presentation is 7.5 pages long.  Showing powerpoint slides reduces the length of the written presentation – that is, you'll have less time than you think when you show slides.


Andrews, Dan. "A 15 Minute Guide: How to Create a Conference Presentation. Tropical MBA. Posted November 19, 2013.  Accessed November 27, 2017. [n.b. this is a good primer, with video and downloadable templates]

Duarte, Nancy. "The Secret Structure of Great Talks."  TED – Ideas Worth Spreading (18:10 min).  Posted November 2011.  Accessed November 27, 2017.

Golash-Boza, Tonya. "How to Give a Fabulous Academic Presentation: Five Tips to Follow." Get a Life, PhD.  Posted April 20, 2011. Accessed November 27, 2017.

Hayward, Andrea. "9 Tips for Presenting at an Academic Conference." Editage Insights. Posted July 17, 2017.  Accessed November 27, 2017.

Miller, Titus.  "Tips for Successful Academic Paper Presentations." University of California Santa Cruz, Division of Graduate Studies. Posted November 8, 2013.  Accessed November 27, 2017.


General Information

Conference posters are a mechanism to present information about your ideas/research that lets you interact with small groups of viewers outside the lecture-structure of the traditional conference paper format.  Scientific conferences have long made use of posters.  They have since spread to social science and now history conferences.  Though less intimidating than a traditional presentation, posters have a structure, and poster presentation sessions do require you to explain your work to people who drop by individually or in groups.

Pointers:  Use a Powerpoint template to design your poster, make it 36" x 48", and have it printed.  Consult with the conference program committee about how you are to display your poster (the committee might provide easels and foam core or cardboard, or you'll need a tri-fold panel for a tabletop).  Do not make your poster larger than the size the conference committee recommends, but don't make it smaller, either.  Unless you want to re-use your poster, do not laminate it.  If you don't want pushpin holes in it, bring binder clips to attach it to the rigid backing.  Pack it in a tube for transport.  Make sure your poster arrives at the beginning of the conference so it may stand long enough for attendees to preview it before the poster session.


"Free PowerPoint® research poster templates in various sizes & styles."  Genigraphics®.  2017.  Accessed November 27, 2017.

"Free Research Poster PowerPoint Templates." The Research Poster Printing Specialists. Accessed November 27, 2017.

Hess, George, et al.  "Giving an Effective Poster Presentation" (11:55 min.), The Graduate School at NCSU – Preparing Future Leaders (PFL) Program. YouTube. Uploaded February 8, 2013.  Accessed November 27, 2017.

"Making an Academic Poster Presentation." Northern Arizona University, Undergraduate Research.  2017.  Accessed November 27, 2017.

Purrington, Colin.  "Designing Conference Posters."  [Colin Purrington's Blog]: Academic Tips.  2017.  Accessed November 27, 2017.  [n.b. see all Purrington's advice linked to this blog page]