I am a PhD student and will give a "virtual poster presentation" at a conference this summer. It seems like the standard templates for academic posters are not appropriate here, because:

  • it will likely be viewed on a much smaller screen than the standard poster-paper size
  • although I imagine the format is more informal than in a conference talk, the lack of in-person interaction means I guess the content has to be presented more linearly, more like a standard conference talk.

The answers to this post indicate a much-simplified style would be better (i.e., make a poster which is like a single slide of a talk) . But the problem is that my topic is not very "visual" and, since the audience is mostly working in a different area to me, even explaining the minimal amount of context would probably make the slide so confusing and busy as to be unreadable.

Some alternatives I am considering:

  • 'cheating' by making a set of slides and squeezing these onto a poster, so that I can go through it like a standard talk.
  • making an extremely minimal poster (title, key point in one sentence, the main plots showing my results) and then writing up the rest of the background/explanatory content into a very short and informal paper, which anyone interested could download as a pdf link. This option seems like it would allow for better communication and would still work if people entered the online "room" at different times, but I'm not sure if this would be acceptable.

Is there a consensus on which of these options would be better? Or is there another format which might be more appropriate for such a presentation?

  • 2
    I vote against anything that involves "squeezing". Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 18:57
  • As Feynman once said: "If you cannot explain something in simple terms, you don't understand it."
    – Louic
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 5:50
  • Are you free to use any tool you like? Perhaps something like Prezi (which I usually hate) might work to create a big poster that when zoomed out is unreadable, but during the presentation you can zoom into specific sections.
    – Jeroen
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 12:08
  • 2
    I suggest that it is your presentation, and not your topic, which is not visual. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 13:09
  • If you can't read properly on screen it would have been too small on a poster…
    – Dirk
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


Cheating, as adding support material (such as second+ pages or showing a short movie) to a digital poster is not going to work if the conference is well organized Why? Because:

  1. The staff will likely require the poster presentation in advance, typically 24-48h before your presentation and validate if it is conform to the rules. One reason they do this is in case you have connection problems, and cannot send it last minute. With this approach, your virtual poster will be shown anyway.
  2. In case there is a numeric environment for the conference, such as a conference environment, with integrated rooms, chats, and spaces, there is a lot of limitations about what can be done or not regarding presentation formatting. Last one I participated Fall 2020 demanded one jpeg of less than a specified amount of megabytes in size at a certain display resolution, presentable for a computer screen. So it was the same for every presenters (offtopic, I really hated the experience)
  3. Often, posters can be up in their virtual room for the duration of the conference, and presenters need to be with their poster at certain timeslot only. Your virtual poster ideally need to make some sense either you are there to explain it or not, while I recognize it may not always be possible.

So now to the minimalist approach. This is the way to go. Remember, adding a QR code linking to a page of yours with whatever you want on it is totally OK.

Posters are to support you talking about it. Even if it is not something graphical, a conceptual schema may be an alternative. No block of texts. Put big labels (A. B. C. D.) to make your talk flow:

As you can see in C. which is a picture of my lab, I use the apparatus A. to make B. Now my results in D. show that...

So they will be following you with the labels.

  • explicitly adding "A/B/C/..." labels to refer to in the talk seems like a good idea. A link-shortened version of some webpage (probably more accessible than a QR code) could work too, in case the conference platform doesn't allow uploading separate files. Though I have never seen a poster like this before, and don't know if extra content is frowned upon in academia...
    – user366202
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 14:23
  • 1
    My virtual conferences have been due weeks before, nto just a few days. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 14:47

making a set of slides and squeezing these onto a poster

Do not do that. Your audience will be using a screen. They probably will not be using zoom (magnification) even if it happens to be available. You do not know what size the audience's screen is. It could be quite small, meaning your slides will be microscopic.

  • I had assumed that virtual poster presentations would be given via some kind of screenshare over (so that I could zoom in and the effect would be like a regular powerpoint presentation). If not, you are of course right, so the best approach depends strongly on the format.
    – user366202
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 14:12

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