I am attending an academic (engineering) conference where I am schedule to speak for my paper which was accepted, using MS PowerPoint/videos to assist my talk. This is my first conference. Currently I'm only bringing nice clothes and my lap top and the basics. Due to lack of money, I'm only arriving on the day I'm scheduled to speak, then leaving immediately (cheapest roundtrip available).


Am I expected to bring a poster presentation to the conference? Or is it typical to only give a talk (with a powerpoint, etc)? I've checked the website and it says nothing about posters - but I don't want to be embarrassed and not have one. I tried calling but couldn't reach an informed person. Am I expected to be at the conference the entire time, or just for my talk?

  • I think there is slight misunderstandig of what paper, poster, presentation, speak, oral presentation, poster presentation actually means in academia. If any of my colleagues says "I'm having oral at <conference>" it causes youngsters to giggle but the old academic can't se why...
    – Crowley
    May 17, 2016 at 16:18
  • This might also be dependent on your field of study. I've never heard anyone use the phrase "I'm having oral at..." in almost 20 years.
    – Thomas
    May 18, 2016 at 9:13
  • 1
    Imagine everyone only came for their own talk -- who would be there to listen?
    – Thomas
    May 18, 2016 at 9:13

6 Answers 6


Usually if you are presenting a poster, it's because you

  • submit a poster abstract to a call for posters, and it is accepted, or
  • submit a paper, and you are informed that it is accepted for a poster presentation instead of a talk, or
  • are otherwise informed by the organizers to bring a poster.

If you don't fall in any of the categories above, then in my experience, you aren't presenting a poster.


Am I expected to be at the conference the entire time, or just for my talk?

Many people arrive late, skip sessions, and/or leave early. However there are several reasons to minimise this:

  • You can pick up a lot from the other talks. Not necessarily specifics but things to consider, that might be relevant to your own work.
  • If everyone only attended for their own talk, there'd be no audience.
  • Timing tends to slip, but if someone's missing you can end up speaking earlier than planned - if you try to cut it too fine you could make things tricky for youreself or the session chair (who you should consider your friend).
  • The break sessions could be called "networking sessions" by career-focussed optimists, i.e. good informal discussions happen there.

So as an absolute minimum you should be there in good time for the start of the session in which you're scheduled to speak. You should also stick around for the whole session, which is likely to be a group of talks more or less related to what you do. Some conferences require you to upload your presentation onto their system before starting (to avoid fiddling with laptop cables every few minutes) so you need to allow for this, checking the instructions.

  • 1
    This is meant to address the extra question at the end. It got rather long as I wrote it.
    – Chris H
    May 17, 2016 at 8:02

While ff524's answer covers the relevant cases here - and your letter (e-mail) of acceptance should clearly point to the kind of presentation you're supposed to give - if still in doubt, contact officials from the conference. If neither said e-mail or the web page of the conference tells precisely what you need to do (which is quite sad) get in contact with someone like a Conference Program Coordinator, a representative of the chairing committee, or your responsible session chair (if known yet) and kindly ask to provide this information.

If your paper abstract was accepted for a talk (oral presentation) you're most likely not required to bring a poster. On the other hand if presenting a poster some venues/conferences might chose to additionally do a Poster Preview that require the authors to prepare a very brief presentation (1..3 minutes, just three slides) along with the poster.


Your talk will usually be one in a block of four or five talks (a "session"); in my field (mathematics), it usually looks bad if you do not attend the rest of the talks in your session. As far as attending all the talks, it can be very mentally exhausting to attend and try to concentrate on every talk so in some ways it is wise to plan to attend the talks that might be interesting and skip the others. However, if you are attending only one day of a weeklong conference, you should attend and make yourself seen throughout the day (especially if the conference is funding your attendance in any way).

If your are giving a talk and it is described as such, plan to show up with a powerpoint presentation. Unless a poster is explicitly mentioned, it will not be needed.


Seems like other answers have already covered the bit about the why you would want to attend other sessions that the one you give a talk on. I can add one more bit there, that is if you only are only there for your own talk it may give the impression that you do not consider other people's work worthy of your time.

Besides that, regarding the main question of bringing a poster or not: all conferences I have attended so far (about half a dozen) and conferences I have considered applying to considered poster and oral presentations as separate forms of presentation, which makes most sense to me.

So I'd say unless it is specified somewhere (letter/mail of acceptance, conference guidelines etc) that speakers are expected to have a poster presentation as well, I'd assume that you are not expected to bring a poster.

But of course, when in doubt, check with the organizaton committee or conference administration, that's what they are for.

  • I'd say that the one who attended for their own presentation only either thinks the others' work doesn't worth their time or are too poor to afford longer presence. Both options send them to others' blacklist either because of their arrogance or the risk of lousy lab equipment.
    – Crowley
    May 17, 2016 at 16:46

Am I expected to bring a poster presentation to the conference? Or is it typical to only give a talk (with a powerpoint, etc)?

It depends on the form of your presentation of your paper and the conference rules. I won't say that it applies for all conferences, but as far as I know (and was involved):

  • If you have oral presentation you are supposed to have you slides with you in form of .pdf, .ppt, .pps or any other form defined in conference rules. Sometimes you are expected/allowed to use your own laptop. Sometimes you are allowed to use only the PC provided by the organisers.
  • If you have poster presentation you are supposed to bring your poster with you on your expenses (you = they who paid the conference fee, tickets, etc.). It is recommended to bring one "big" poster to be displayed, several A4 versions and visit cards.

You will be informed about the mandatory details when your paper will be accepted. Some conferences can be attended with flash disk, clothes and wallet only without any discomfort. When returning from some conferences you will mutter "I should have taken all the stuff with me." I strongly recommend asking someone who attended the conference before for details...

Am I expected to be at the conference the entire time, or just for my talk?

It depends on you and on the one who you represent (your advisor, your faculty, university, employer).

You are expected to be there to present your work. Some conferences maintain blacklist and whitelist of organisations based on presenters attendance on their speeches/poster sessions.

Keep in mind that conferences are there to present your work (and proof it was presented is mandatory to get funds), to know what the other groups are doing and to be in contact with them. I think second and third shall not be neglected.

You wrote It is matter of lacking money. Who is lacking the money, you personally or your faculty? If you are lacking money, don't bother - the conference fee and living cost shall be covered by your faculty - you are representing them on regular business trip. If the faculty has limitted budget they will pay you at least one whole day at the conference so try to push as much as you can out of it. For you personally, obviously.

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