Recently, we made a call out to all early career educators, inviting the submission of abstracts to present a poster at the upcoming Teaching using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies event.

The poster competition includes prizes worth $1000 in total, and the purpose is to promote and recognise excellence in visually communicating the design and facilitation of engaging and empowering pedagogies (active, authentic and collaborative learning strategies) in Griffith courses and/or programs, or learning support sessions.

We thought it would be timely to post some tips and ideas to help you put your best foot forward with your next poster presentation – whether it’s a poster for the Teaching using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies event, or a conference you might be attending.

Here they are…

Tip 1: Get organised

Chunk your content into blocks

Your poster is essentially bringing your abstract to life, so before you get started with putting your poster together, refer back to your abstract and think about how you might organise your content. Consider what it is that you want your reader to go away knowing after looking at your poster.

To focus on getting your key points across, edit and chunk your text so that it includes the most important content in an easy to read format. Think short paragraphs with headings, subheadings and dot points. Less really is more, especially when you’re dealing with a fixed and limited space such as a poster format.

When looking at Teaching using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies posters, the judges are keen to see what you did in the realm of active learning. Try and give them a clear and concise overview of the pedagogies you used, the strategies you incorporated into your teaching, the challenges you faced, and any lessons learned from reflecting on your experiences.

Tip 2: Pick your tools

Not sure which software to use to create your poster? There are no hard and fast rules here, and you should use whatever you feel comfortable with and which will help you achieve your desired outcome.

Some suggestions for applications you could use are:

  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Word
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Spark

Just remember to refer to any of the poster size requirements and get those settings right before you start designing. (The maximum poster size for Teaching using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies posters is A0 (84 × 119 cm), in portrait format.)

Tip 3: Access all areas

Make your poster as easy as possible to read

Readability is your number one concern when it comes to designing your poster. Consider using the abstract structure as your content block titles. When formatting your text, think visually and use headings, subheadings, short paragraphs and dot points.

Make your headings bigger than your body text to create visual hierarchy, and use the same size and style for headings and body text throughout the poster for consistency. Bold important points, and use italics for emphasis.

Don’t be afraid to play with typography, but keep it simple. It’s amazing how different fonts can take your poster from ‘oh’ to ‘whoa!’, but stick to clean and readable fonts, especially for body text.

Leave some white space around your text and you will find it’s automatically less cluttered and more readable. Left-align your text so it’s easier to follow, and stick to dark text on a light background – it’s much easier on the eye and looks more professional.

When it comes to your poster title: go big! Make sure it’s readable from a couple of metres away, and is simple and descriptive. Your title can really help your poster stand out from the crowd.

If you use acronyms on your poster, spell them out at least once. The audience at Teaching using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies will include experienced educators who are well versed in Higher Ed jargon, as well as new educators who aren’t as familiar with some of the acronyms you might use on a daily basis.

Tip 4: Be creative

A grid can provide a guide for your layout

Use visuals to break up the text content on your poster. You might choose to use some photos from your teaching sessions, or images of your teaching materials. Do you have any data or information that could be presented visually for more impact? Take some time to choose or create a few appealing visuals to make your poster pop.

Colour can be used to create a look and feel for your poster, and make it more effective. Choose colours that are easy on the eye, and that complement rather than compete with your content.

Using a grid can help you keep your design on track, making it easier for your reader to follow your content, and easier for you to decide what goes where, while still allowing room for creativity. The Teaching using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies poster needs to be in portrait format so you might choose to have one big single column, two columns split down the middle, or a combination.

Creating a visual focal point for your poster is another idea you might like to consider. You could have a circle diagram in the centre of the poster, a square in the top left, or multiple blocks that draw attention to your poster.

Tip 5: Review and refine

You’re nearly there! It’s important to take the time to step back and review your poster. Do a test print to see what it might look like actually printed out (even printing on A4 rather than full size will give you an idea of how it will look). Remove any elements that don’t add value to your poster overall, and tweak anything you think might need a little extra attention.

Then… take a deep breath. Feel proud of your work, knowing that you have done your best, and look forward to sharing your findings with your fellow educators!