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The first step in developing a research poster is to think strategically about two major considerations: Your Story and Your Audience.  

Before putting your fingers to the keypad or opening up PowerPoint to design your poster, it may be helpful to brainstorm or develop responses for these two major considerations. 

What is Your Research Story?

What is the main finding or major takeaway you are hoping to share? Start with identifying this main finding or takeaway and work backward to think about what else you need to explain. 

  • What is your main finding or key takeaway? This may inform your Results section. 

  • How did you arrive at this key finding? Did you use a particular approach or method? This may inform your Methods section.

  • What background information is necessary to contextualize your main finding or takeaway? Add this information to your Introduction. 

Who is Your Audience?

Audiences and their base-level knowledge can vary depending on where you are presenting your research. At a discipline-specific conference, it's likely that most people who visit your poster will be familiar with your field. However, this might not always be the case. 


Consider the following questions when developing initial ideas for what to include on your poster: 

  • To whom might you be presenting your poster?

  • How much does your audience presumably know about your subject area? 

  • In what ways can you describe your story differently based on your audience? 

Connecting Your Audience to Your Research Story

After you have determined what your story is and who your audience is, it is important to think about the best way to share your story with your audience. 

Questions to Consider: 

  • What parts of your research are most important to share with your audience?

    • Which of those would be helpful to visualize on a poster? 

    • Which would be okay to explain to the audience without a visual representation? 

  • Why would your audience care about your story or your research? ​​

    • Consider adding a Relevancy or Importance section to your poster in which you can outline how your research impacts the broader field and those outside of your discipline. 

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