General Presentation Guidelines

In designing an effective poster or talk, first think about what you want viewers to learn from your presentation. What will they need to know in order to understand your work?

You will need to:

  1. Provide some context for your work. What is the problem or central question you are addressing, and why is it important? (Why should viewers care about your work?) What background information does a viewer need to know to understand your work?
  2. Explain what you did to get your results.
  3. State what you learned/created during your project. You project does not have to be complete – this is what you have learned so far.
  4. Consider the larger themes or implications of your work (e.g. what is the “big picture” take-home message from your presentation?). How does this relate to the problem or question you described in your background section? How does your work fit with what we already know about this topic?


Oral Presentation Guidelines

  • You will have 10-12 minutes for your oral presentation, with an additional 2-3 minutes at the end to answer any questions the audience may have.
  • All rooms are equipped with a computer and video projection system. We recommend using programs like PowerPoint or Prezi to create slide visuals to accompany your talk.


Poster Presentation Guidelines

The maximum poster size is 48 inches (horizontal dimension) by 36 inches (vertical dimension). We strongly recommend using software like PowerPoint to create a single page poster, which can then be printed on a wide format printer by Printing Services (costs for printing one poster will be covered by the Center for Undergraduate Research).

To set the correct dimensions for your poster in PowerPoint, click on the design tab in PowerPoint, open the pull-down menu under slide size (at the right), choose custom slide size, and set the dimensions of the slides to 48” x 36”. 


  • The title should be short, clear, informative and large (viewable from 8ft away, 80 pt or bigger). This should be followed by the names of the presenters (at least 60 pt).
  • Split your poster up into a series of sections with clear headings.
  • Make sure the flow of information is logical and easy to follow. The headings you use can help you to guide readers through your poster, and can help to convey your findings.
  • Make sure your layout is consistent and neat.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave some blank space, it helps to organize and define your sections.
  • Create a balance between visuals and text: posters are a visual medium, so you don’t want to have too much text.

Download a PowerPoint template for your poster presentation. Choose the format that works best for you, or modify one of the templates to suit your needs. Remember to save the file as a PDF before sending it to Print Services, where you can have your poster printed.



  • Text should be short and to the point. To minimize the amount of text you use, consider keeping any text elements to 50 words or less.
  • Consider using bullets, instead of paragraphs.
  • Make text large! All text should be at least 24 pt (at least 36 pt for headings).
  • When you make a statement or include a statistic, cite the source, otherwise readers will lose confidence in you as a source of information.



  • Good graphics are the key to an effective poster.
  • Use simple, relevant images and graphs to illustrate and enhance your poster. Make sure the images you choose are freely available to share (e.g. from creative commons).
  • Photos help to illustrate your work and can help convey your message to viewers.
  • Consider whether you can use an image or graph, instead of text, to communicate a concept/relationship/idea.
  • Use graphics to attract attention.
  • If you have only a few illustrations, make them big! 


For more information on creating effective, easy-to-read posters, visit the CalU library website:

Printing your poster
You can print your poster at University Printing Services (Azorsky 103). Email your completed poster to, and make sure to mention that you are a Strike a Spark conference participant in your email. Printing costs for one poster will be covered by the Center for Undergraduate Research.

Please submit your poster for printing by Wednesday April 8th, as there will likely be high demand.