Tips for Visual Aids

Posters Should be Readable from 5 Feet Away

The message should be clear and understandable without oral explanation.

An Effective Slide Has a Single, Readily Identifiable Principle Concept

Focus on a few key points. Try different styles of presentation. Do an initial sketch, then do a rough layout to get a good idea of proportions and balance. At the final layout stage, ask a friend if the message is clear and if the important points stand out.

Avoid Projecting Slides That Include Only Text

Slides that contain more than a few words per line cannot be read by the audience. Keep slides simple, with plenty of open space.

Make Sure That Slides Are Readable

If you can read the information on the slide when it is held at arm's length against a bright background, it should be readable to the audience.

Do Not Present More Than 10 Slides in a 10 Minute Presentation

The verbal text and the slide material should support each other. Give the audience a moment to become orientated with each slide before continuing.

Check All Technology

Make certain that whatever technology you may need for your presentation will be available - projectors, computers, whatever you need. Be sure you know how to use it, and that you are familiar with that particular setup for the room you are in. If possible, test everything in advance. Leave enough time for setup on the day of your presentation.

Further Information

Two excellent sources on assembling science posters and other visuals are:

  • Envisioning Information, Edward R. Tufte.
    qQA90.T914 1990 (In the Science Library)

  • Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Edward R. Tufte
    q HA31 .T84 (in Science Library and Clapp Library)

Source: Adapted from the Ruhlman Conference Web site

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