Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Effective Poster Presentations Session

We were recently asked to cover a session about poster design. This is a session we have never covered before as this used to be facilitated by someone who has now left the institution. The aim of the session was to help a cohort of students with their poster presentation assignment.

The previous session was quite tool orientated, revolving heavily around the use of Microsoft PowerPoint with a 'what buttons to click' approach.

We decided to revise what had been done before to introduce students to the more of the planning side. So looking at structure, good practice and design tips, highlighting good and bad examples and more.

First port of call for the session was to ask the students how far they are currently are with poster design, do they have any specific questions that they would like answering? It transpired that they were all quite comfortable with the 'doing' part, they were seeking information such as recommended font size and tips for reviewing what they had done. This fit perfectly to what we had put together as a presentation guide.

Below you can see the presentation we put together for this session.

The presentation weaved it's way through the structure, what they had to think about in terms of design, through to a small 15 minute hands on session to play with what they had learnt, ending in a little direction for further support.

This cohort of students were active and engaged with the subject so getting them into small groups of 3 or 4 and setting the task was quite pleasurable. The task was to mock up a poster based around what they had just learnt on a subject of their choice.

It was nice to see the small groups in full blown discussion about the design, structure with the addition of personal preference items such as colour or orientation.

After the generous time limit, I stood at the front of the room holding up the posters and asked the team to comment on their poster, it was done in a very informal manner as to encourage negative comments as well as positive. I didn't comment on the posters but asked their team and other teams questions around each one. 'What would you have done here?', 'Is this white space for an image?' and jokingly 'Who on earth chose that?!'.

This gave an opportunity for all to comment and highlight some of the ideas we have previously discussed during the session presentation.

Below are the final mock up posters:

The students feedback to this approach was very positive, they mentioned that it gave them an opportunity to explore some of the ideas without the technical barriers and time of doing it in PowerPoint and not having something to stand back and think about.

One student mentioned she struggled to work out spacing of the boxes and text in PowerPoint as the student had to constantly zoom in to type.

I mentioned that maybe first, the student should get the poster laid out how they would like it first in let's say PowerPoint. To help them visualise this I asked the students if they had ever heard of Lorem Ipsum, the printers typesetting dummy text. The students weren't aware of this so I demoed going to the Lorem Ipsum generator at http://www.lipsum.com and how they could use it to 'fill' empty text boxes in their poster to better see how much they need to type. When they are happy with their design, they can simply go into each section and start inputting their real content. Of course they may well have to adjust some bits but it's easier for the eye to see 'Is that too much text?','Does that look right where it is?'.

The session ran well and I even had two students take photos on their phones of the posters they created.

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