Symposium Best Practices

Remember that judges are from within and outside of academia; you are bringing your work to a broad audience, many of whom may not be familiar with complex topics or topical jargon.

Take advantage of other best practices guides from around the web:

PLOS “Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations”

Poster Presentations

  • Ratio is 4 Wide x 3 High, a maximum size of 4' x 3'; however, the actual poster stand mounting area is 44.5" Wide x 44.75" High. Please do not laminate your poster.
  • Watch Mike Morrison’s video about his radical redesign of the science research poster. While you may not want to go as far as he does with your poster, his points about the ineffectiveness of a wall of words and even eye-catching graphics that nevertheless don’t convey meaningful information are well worth heeding.
  • Consider putting a QR code on your poster that links interested judges and other visitors to your professional website or to your program’s website about your research or project.
  • For the judges, you must present your poster with a maximum five-minute talk that takes the judges through your poster. Follow this with a two-minute-maximum Q&A with the judges.

Talk Presentations (with or without slides, other visuals)

  • If you plan to give a slide presentation (Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Google Slides, etc.) to complement your talk, watch David JP Phillips’ April 14, 2014, TEDx Stockholm How to avoid death by PowerPoint on YouTube. For a good laugh, watch Don McMillan’s November 9, 2009, Life After Death by Powerpoint YouTube video. Take a workshop on effective slide presentation design to avoid perpetrating Death by PowerPoint. These are offered periodically throughout the academic year at the Graduate Student Commons.
  • Your talk may not exceed five minutes, and then you have an additional two minutes to answer questions from the judges, with three minutes to disconnect your laptop or USB drive from the ITS laptop provided and allow the next scheduled presenter to connect. If you plan to give a slide presentation, a good rule of thumb is to make one point per slide and spend about a minute per slide making that point.
  • Since introducing yourself is part of your presentation and you opt to give an accompanying slide show, do not add this information (your name, program, and whatever else you make part of your talk) to your slides.

Alternative Media Presentations

  • Prepare a talk no longer than five minutes about your research or project that your alternative media presentation demonstrates. Your five-minute-maximum presentation should include time to demontrate your alternative media work. Follow this with a two-minute-maximum Q&A with the judges.
  • You will need to work with Sonya Newlyn ( to coordinate provision of technical equipment for your alternative media presentation.