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SIOP Presentation Suggestions for Interactive Poster Sessions

Interactive poster sessions. An interactive poster session is a dynamic forum among presenters, a facilitator, and the audience, intended to encourage discussion and sharing of multiple perspectives. Each interactive poster session highlights approximately four posters with a common theme. The first part of the session functions similarly to traditional poster sessions, with audience members viewing posters and interacting with the authors. During the second part of the session, a facilitator will lead the audience and authors in an informal discussion of the posters and the broader topical area. Posters and topic areas are selected by the Program Committee (not the poster submitter) from the pool of posters accepted to the conference. Authors who do not wish their posters to be considered for an interactive session have indicated this in the "Special Requests" section when the poster is submitted. Opting out of the pool for an interactive session does not have any impact on the likelihood of a poster being accepted to the conference.

Suggestions for Effective Interactive Poster Presentations


Planning is Paramount (See Guidelines Useful for All Types of Sessions)

  • Make the poster readable from a distance of five feet.
    • Remember, poster sessions get very crowded, and there may be several people trying to read your poster at a single time. For anyone to be able to read your work, it is very important that you use a font large enough for this purpose. A general rule of thumb would be to use a font size of at least 20. However, take a page and put it on a wall, then back up about five feet. If you can’t read it now, imagine how difficult it will be to read it in a crowded, busy room full of people.
  • Use bullet points to maximize information.
    • The temptation with posters is to cut and paste parts of the paper, or to talk in full sentences. Unfortunately, this is an inefficient way to convey the information. Remember that materials must fit into the space allotted to posters (4 feet high, 8 feet wide). Bullet points help organize and convey a lot more information in a shorter space.
  • Provide only the key points.
    • Avoid the temptation to post excessive information on a poster. Even though people interested in your poster have the opportunity to read it for extended periods of time, it does not mean they want to. Most people only have time to get the gist of the information: What you did, why it is important, and what it means. Provide only the key points that readers will be most interested in; additional information can always be obtained in the full paper.
  • Prepare professional-looking posters.
    • There are several ways you can prepare your poster for presentation at SIOP. Many presenters choose to print their posters on a regular printer. If you do so, be sure to use high-quality paper and a high-quality printer. It may also be helpful to mount the paper on pieces of cardstock to make it easier for the audience to read. Another option is to print the poster as a full all-in-one poster.
    • However you choose to prepare you poster, be sure to maximize the use of your available space. Poster sessions can become crowded and you may want to prepare your poster so that it allows the audience to physically move through the sections of your poster.
  • Try to interact with your audience during the 20-minute discussion period at the beginning of the session.
    • One of the great elements of any poster presentation is the opportunity to interact with other SIOP members. Avoid the temptation to walk around the poster session or to leave your poster for extended periods of time. Ask readers if you can clarify anything, thank them for looking over your poster, etc. However you choose to do it, try to involve your audience with your research.
    • You should anticipate being at your poster for the entire session. Show up on time, and don’t leave early.
  • Be sure to share copies of your paper before the conference with those who request them. This should enhance the initial discussion and the moderated portion of the session. It is particularly important that you share your paper with your co-presenters and with the facilitator. This should be done at least 2 weeks before the conference. It is also important that you familiarize yourself with the posters of your co-presenters.
  • Bring handouts.
    • Plan on bringing about 30 handouts to your session. This will greatly facilitate the interaction with the audience, and allow them to get into more detail than would be possible without this material.

Be prepared to distribute your paper (See Guidelines Useful for All Types of Sessions)


  • The primary role of the facilitator is to ensure increased interaction and discussion among presenters and the audience. Note that the interactive poster session begins with a 20-minute period in which the audience mills about the posters and discusses them with participants. The session then concludes with a 25-minute facilitated discussion of the papers led by the facilitator.
  • Facilitators should ensure as much as possible that session members review each other’s papers before the conference.
    • It will be much easier to see similarities and differences between papers when everyone has a chance to review them beforehand. It will also be possible to reduce redundancies in the presentation.
    • Remind presenters that they should share a copy of their papers with each other and with you at least 2 weeks before the conference.
    • In addition, the facilitator should provide some guidance to presenters before the conference as to how the session will proceed, that is, the structure of the session.
  • The facilitator should also be familiar with the posters in order to facilitate effectively.
  • Facilitate the discussion.
    • The 25-minute facilitated discussion period is at the heart of the Interactive Poster Sessions, so begin this portion of the session promptly.
    • Begin the facilitated period by presenting a few general, brief comments (1-2 minutes, at most) to orient the audience to the papers and how they fit together.
    • Next, open up the session to questions from the audience and presenters. Repeat each question or comment from the audience before responding so that all can hear. Do your best to tactfully prevent one person from dominating the discussion.
    • Have a set of discussion points prepared that can be used to stimulate discussion, in the event that there are few questions generated by the audience. For example, why were differences found between studies? What are the implications of these studies for research in this area? How can these studies improve practice? Preparing these questions before the session ensures that the session moves along smoothly.

A few minutes before the session is scheduled to conclude, politely announce that the next question will be the last. If necessary, politely interrupt the speaker.