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Guidelines Useful for All Types of Sessions

Planning: Planning is paramount. It is the single most important thing you need to do as you develop your poster/presentation. Clearly thinking through your objectives and logically outlining the content of the poster/presentation are keys to a high-quality presentation.

Identify your fundamental message or main point.

What is your purpose? What do you hope to achieve? What message do you want to get across to your readers/audience? While this may seem simple or obvious, many times a presenter’s purpose is not clearly understood or is unrealistic. Determine exactly what you want to communicate and design your poster/presentation with that purpose in mind.

Focus on the essentials/avoid losing the audience in details.

First, be aware from the beginning you have limited time (for presentations) or space (for posters) for presenting. Second, recognize people can only absorb a limited amount of information in such a short time frame. Avoid the strong tendency to want to tell all. Your poster/presentation should not resemble a detailed technical paper or report. Rather, it should focus on a few key points that will provide your audience with important information and implications.

With that said, this guidance is not intended to encourage shallow treatment of complex issues, nor should it lead to exclusion of details critical to the research presented. Rather, it is meant to emphasize the importance of properly targeting the best information to present in your limited time. Sufficient information should be presented so that the audience can understand the quality of the inferences and conclusions drawn.

Provide a road map for your audience.

Don’t leave your readers/audience hanging. For presenters, people appreciate periodic guidance on where you have been and where you are going with the presentation. Use an outline or content table, and transition statements, to let them know what you’ll be covering. For posters, clearly label each major section (e. g. , Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion/Conclusions).

Be prudent in your use of statistics.

It’s easy to overwhelm readers/listeners with too many numbers. Use data to support your conclusions or key points, when necessary, and always be prepared to answer follow-up questions regarding additional material. For presenters, it is appropriate to say more details can be provided after this talk, or in the paper. For posters, For posters, those interested in the full paper can be sent an electronic version, but do have a few copies of the full paper and tables so that interested attendees can see more specific details.

Offer conclusions and recommendations.

Don’t leave it up to your readers or audience to draw their own conclusions. You should leave your audience with a clear understanding of how they can use, or learn from, the information you presented. Providing recommendations for additional research and practice is an important part of your role as a presenter.


Whether you have years of experience, or will be giving your first presentation/paper ever, everyone can benefit from practicing both the presentation and explanation of the research. If your colleagues, after an informal practice presentation, don’t clearly understand some elements within your presentation, your audience at SIOP certainly won’t either. Further, your colleagues will almost always think of issues/questions you have not, and this will allow you to better anticipate and address critical inquiry.

Distributing Papers. A good presentation entices others to read the complete paper. In the past, distribution of papers occurred at the conference. Many people still use this method;however, the flexibility of e-mail and the Internet for distributing such papers has lessened the need to carry as many papers to a conference, and electronic is certainly the more “green” alternative. The following guidelines will help make the process of obtaining electronic copies of your papers easier for others and yourself.

Provide a clearly marked place for the e-mail/mail addresses of those requesting your paper.

Clearly marked envelope for business cards. In many sessions, business cards are scattered all over, making it difficult to know who requested your paper. Provide a large envelope clearly labeled as Requests for XYZ paper. This not only ensures that all requests stay in the same place, but also that you don’t lose any business cards.

Clearly marked sign-up sheet for those without business cards. Further, provide a sheet of paper, clearly labeled, that describes your session and what information you would need to send the paper (e. g. , e-mail address, mail address).

Provide your own e-mail address or web address/URL.

It is difficult to correctly write down long URL or e-mail addresses, especially in a crowd of people. You can make this process easier by having your own business cards available in sufficient quantities (usually 40 minimum).

If you administer research via the Web and your business cards do not have your Web address, consider printing this address on the back of your cards, providing slips of paper with the address, or printing the address on mailing labels for others to take with them.

Check for potential copyright violations before posting any article to the Internet.
Different journals have different guidelines for posting material to the Internet. Some journals consider any Web postings as a publication and will refuse to consider the article for publication. Others, such as the APA journals, have specific guidelines one must follow before posting to the Internet.

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