I am presenting (PPT) my regular research paper in a computer science conference. Additionally, the conference has a poster session of 2 hr. What I find difficult in poster session is that the process of redundantly speaking the same things again and again.

E.g. If 1 person comes, I need to start. He may leave in half way. Then, next 2-3 person come, I have to restart.

What is the best way to deal with this problem?

One solution I think is: Wait for few minutes, let a bunch of people present and then start presentation.

  • 6
    If I came up to your poster, and you said "I'm going to wait a few minutes for more people" I'm just going to leave lol Aug 29, 2018 at 21:11

3 Answers 3


I strongly suggest that you don't treat it as a sequence of presentations, but more as an opportunity to meet people, exchange business cards, listen to their questions and comments and just interact with them in a normal way.

Usually the venue is a bit chaotic so you aren't likely to be very successful with a presentation. Have several copies of your paper, or at least an abstract. Make sure you include contact information. Have an actual poster that gives a bit of an outline of what you do, but not too dense.

Some of the people wandering by will be truly interested, others not as much. Some will be students looking for ideas and some will be professors looking for future employees if you are a student yourself.

Keep it informal. Make a good personal impression. Let the formal presentation and the paper stand on its own. You don't really need to sell it. Of course, a few questions might be detailed and you can deal with that.

I've been to a lot of these, both as a "presenter" and a viewer. What I want as a visitor is a quick overview from the poster and the opportunity to ask a question.

  • Great advice. This makes things clear about the very idea behind poster presentations.
    – Coder
    Aug 30, 2018 at 17:15

I'm not familiar with conferences where you do both an oral presentation and a poster presentation, but I'll share my experience doing posters.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone there knows how posters work.

Everybody expects to wander up to an interesting poster and maybe get the last half of an explanation. People who are genuinely interested in your research will wait for you to wrap up with the last group before asking you to start from the beginning.

I also find that most people are pretty respectful of a group of people waiting their turn. If you turn around, and there are three people waiting to hear the talk from the beginning, it's polite to cut your questions short and let them have their turn.

Just keep a smile on your face and go with the flow. Depending on the size of the conference, this might never come up, or you might be constantly managing three or four attendees who are at different stages in the presentation.

One solution I think is: Wait for few minutes, let a bunch of people present and then start presentation

Like I said in the comments, this is silly. If you meant "let a bunch of people present [themselves]," i.e. show up to your poster, no one is going to stand around and wait for you to get a critical mass of people. That sounds painfully awkward and people will just wander away, especially if it's a short poster session.

  • 2
    Just offer them a beer while they wait. You will have more people around your poster than you know what to do with...
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 29, 2018 at 21:36
  • @JonCuster Okay, addendum, I would wait around for beer or free food. Aug 29, 2018 at 21:47
  • A long time ago I knew a just-graduated PhD who had started at a research lab. They went to a conference to present a poster on their PhD research. When they returned, their new boss met with them and said something to the effect that, while they were proud to hear that the poster was a smash hit, in the future the company frowned on providing whiskey with the poster...
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 29, 2018 at 21:56

Pre-prepared presentations don't work for posters, exactly for the reasons you identified. That's what the oral presentations are for.

My poster routine is quite simple:

  1. Blend with the crowd. Look at the nearby posters, have a chit-chat with someone. Don't make the mistake of standing there like a bouncer, eyeballing every passer-by, bursting to unpack your stuff. It's uncomfortable, people need a bit of time to process what the poster is about.
  2. When you see someone who actually seems interested, approach them and ask if they'd like to hear more. First ask them what their specialization and position is. This is important, because it immediately opens up a two-way communication channel between you two.
  3. Try your best to tailor what you say to the person. If they are on the engineering side, don't spend 5 minutes talking about deep theoretical ramifications of your work. Etc. Also, be as informal as possible, and dose the information in small chunks so they can ask additional impromptu questions.
  4. If more people snowball around you, try to involve them too if they seem interested: "We're talking with Jeff here about my proposal for quantum recombobulator, care to join?"

Posters are about making connections and addressing people who actually care. Don't waste that opportinuty by giving generic speeches, trying to please everyone when most likely 9/10 people don't care about your poster (and that's perfectly fine).

  • This is a conference for a small community. So I presume everyone would like listening more. Can't say.
    – Coder
    Aug 30, 2018 at 17:16
  • 1
    Never underestimate how lazy people can be :) But jokes aside, if that's the case, then the adaptive personal approach with accent on contact building becomes even more important, i'd think.
    – Oskar Elek
    Aug 30, 2018 at 19:18

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