Mhari Coxon suggests the secret to a poster success is YOUR personality, YOUR passion and a whole lot of pizzazz
The dental world is changing rapidly in the UK. One way to develop within your career is to perform a case study or research a subject to better understand it. You may even do your own piece of research within your practice. Then, why not put your findings together to make a poster presentation? There are lots of opportunities to display these at conferences and many have a prize for the best one, too.
Peers and publication
A good poster presentation can be an effective way to share the results of your research or work with your peers, in a collegial and non-threatening atmosphere. Feedback delivered during a poster display can be an aid to refining your research and perhaps help with preparing for publication in a
peer-reviewed journal. This can be the first step towards a masters or even a PhD in some cases.
The 3 types of poster
• Original study – where you have carried out new research
• Evaluation of a method, device, or protocol – this is a research piece using current research and information available – including a systematic review
• Case report or case series – this can be a single case or a group of cases that have been documented
If the poster is to be judged, ensure you have the full judging criteria and query anything you don’t understand. It would be a shame to put all the hard work in and for it to be dismissed.
What’s the point?
Know what you want people to get out of your poster. Is it to:
• Stimulate conversation and debate?
• Deliver information about a service?
• Showcase your work for peer review?
• Share your methods with colleagues?
Once you have a clear purpose, write it down and don’t deviate
Your abstract will be submitted before you present your poster. The abstract section of the poster must then accurately summarise the hypothesis or research question, the methods, the data, and the conclusions. This is the foundation of your poster. The abstract on the final poster should be the same as the one submitted when applying to make the poster presentation. The text should be readable at about three feet in distance and the font should be easy to read, for example Arial.
Make an impact
• Grab attention – it is one poster in a wall of many so stand out!
• Make the title catchy – short, sharp and attention grabbing
• Keep text big as much as possible
• Use good visuals to tell your story
• Use a banner heading for your title that can be seen from distance
• Think about the aesthetics and flow as well as the content
Make a plan and timeline
Even the best and most brilliant are prone to faff a little and missing a deadline is not an option. Almost all associations and societies have a strict no submission after deadline policy. This is only fair to those who have delivered on time. There is a lot to consider when putting a poster together and, if using a designer, they need clear deadlines, too. So, make a list of stages with a clear deadline for each culminating in at least a week breathing space before the final submission.
Papers can be conventionally dry and a bit impersonal. Posters allow you to add your personality and show your passion, too. It is this that can draw passers-by into reading it. Posters have often produced some of the best collaborations in research, so make sure you have a picture of you so people can find you and contact details such as an email to allow conversation to take place. Who knows where it could lead?
Don’t believe your own hype
Just because a poster is accepted does not mean it is good. Conferences need attendees to be financially viable. Make sure your science and knowledge are good and sound. Presenting your poster can be an introduction to speaking for many and a worthwhile toe in the water to see if it is for you. Be prepared for constructive criticism and be humble enough to take it – and learn from it. This is the true purpose of the exercise, is it not?
Details you need in there clearly are:
Have some copies of the poster on normal size paper and again, make sure your contact details are on there, too. Again this can be a platform for collaboration and potential speaking roles.
Mhari Coxon RDH is senior professional relations manager at Philips Oral Healthcare UK. As the highest-ranking female in the Dentistry Top 50 poll, she is among those considered the most influential in the profession.