When presenting your research, don’t be afraid to use provocative language and lots of pictures. Also consider simple bulleted lists and the rule-of-thirds.
I just came back from presenting at the American Anthropology Association’s 110th convention, in Montreal. Everything about Montreal was beautiful, especially the weather and the language. I spoke hardly a word of English on the street, and the Quebecois gladly helped me struggle with my French. Alors, je voudrais avoir plus villes comme Montreal, dans Les Etats Unis! Furthermore, although I’m usually unsatisfied with my work, I’d still call this presentation a successful evolution, compared to my earlier presentations in 2009. Find below a few insights I gleaned, including notes on poster sessions, graphic design, and content selection.
My presentation was a “poster session.” This means I summed up my research on a poster, presented it alongside other researchers’ posters, and competed for passersby’s attention. In many ways, poster sessions resemble highschool science fairs, only with more self-important college graduates and professional researchers. (Laughs Out Loud)
At an earlier presentation in 2009, I wanted to appear properly “academic.” My poster featured lots of jargon, “thick description,” small text, and only one small illustration. Hardly anyone read my poster, much less discussed it with me. This year, I applied some new skills I learned from marketing design. I used the artistic “rule of thirds,” which organizes graphics into three intersecting columns and rows, rendering nine plots total. I devoted the top three plots to a provocative title, “GOD IS ANGRY,” and relegated the academic title to subtext. I devoted another three plots to compelling illustrations. Although I filled the remaining plots with text, I used concise point-by-point lists, only lightly seasoned with jargon. This way, I won so much attention from passersby, that we ran 15min overtime and I lost my voice.
I also made a tough decision regarding content selection. Although Dove World Outreach Center, and their highly publicized “International Burn a Koran Day,” only constituted a small part of my research, I still featured it on my poster. Why? Research accomplishes nothing if nobody reads it, and I accurately predicted that mentioning Dove World would catch more eyes.
Presenting? Contact me, and I’ll help design your poster!
Oh, also? I put a lot of thought into these posts, and I sure love getting feedback, even short and stupid feedback. So be awesome, click here, and leave a comment, dammit. Got some experience with artwork, design, or more academically rigorous presentations? Love to hear about it! Ever competed in the highschool science fair? Love to hear about that, too! Of course, I welcome any other thoughts, comments, and criticisms!
(ABOVE. Yours truly, presenting to a couple passersby. They usually came by in sets of one-to-three, and switched out every few minutes over the course two hours.)
(ABOVE. Vanity shot. Yours truly, enjoying Montreal, while a Quebecois bartender helps me struggle with my French. “Je voudrais un latte vanille, petite, avec plus vanille, et avec les temps a un cent trente Farenheit. S’il vous plait.” LOL. I think I accidentally told him to change the weather.)