Vanderbilt Research Fair


Poster and/or Slide Preparation

Students can elect to present in one of two ways: a traditional poster OR a slide presentation on their personal device. 

Slide Presentations:

Students who wish to present using a slide presentation MUST have approval from their principal investigator and are not permitted to use video, software demonstrations, or any other type of demonstrative that would not appear on a poster presentation.  Doing so will remove the entry from the competition portion of the fair.

Students may select their slide software of choice and should present the same content that would be presented on a poster (e.g. introduction, objective(s), methods, results/expected results, conclusions/future work).

Poster Presentations:

Poster boards are 3′ tall x 4′ wide. Thus the maximum size of your poster will be 3′ tall x 4′ wide. When you mount your poster you will be attaching it directly to the surface of the provided poster board with push-pins.  Accordingly the paper on which your poster is produced should be relatively thin and relatively light.

Most posters are prepared in one of two ways:

  • As a single, large, sheet. Posters produced in this manner look very professional and are perfectly acceptable for this poster session.  However, it should be noted that producing this form of poster is in no way required, and is the more expensive option.  If you opt to produce this type of poster, the associated expenses will be your and/or your research mentor’s responsibility.
  • As a series of 8.5″ by 11″ inch PowerPoint slides, which are then printed out on standard sheets of paper.  These sheets of paper can then be readily attached to the supplied poster board with push-pins.  This style of poster is perfectly acceptable for the poster session and is very commonly used.

With either mode of production, the most effective use of the available space is usually to use a grid plan arranged in columns. This prevents viewers from having to cross back and forth in front of each other.

Overall Poster and Slide Appearance

Make it understandable and easy to follow. Your poster or slides should be:

  • Clear
  • Concise (bullet points, numbered lists, etc.)
  • Simple
  • Large fonts so people can read the poster at a distance
  • Figures or tables instead of text



The contents of the poster or slides should convey:

  • The problem (what is your question?)
  • Significance (why should anyone care?)
  • How your experiment/approach addresses the problem (what is your strategy and/or objective?)
  • The methods/experiments/tasks performed (what did you actually do?)
  • The results obtained (what did you actually find?)
  • The conclusions (what do you think it all means?)
  • Future directions (where do you go from here?)


Know your message

  • What is the one thing you want your audience to learn from your project?
  • Reinforce this message throughout the presentatin
  • If it doesn’t support your message…leave it out!


Miscellaneous Advice

  • Plan ahead; make several small deadlines to meet your final deadline
    • Your poster or slides should undergo several revisions and should be approved by your PI
    • Ask lab members for comments/suggestions
    • Print out a draft copy or smaller version of the poster or presentation to spot errors and judge visual aspects

Posters will be evaluated according to a judging rubric.