General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Poster presentation etiquette

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My stock answer:

'You know, I can't answer that specific question.  Can I grab your contact details, and take a note of the question and get back to you with an answer?'

And then follow up later when you do have an answer.  I've found that works for everyone I've tried it on.

Moral of the story - "Famous" scientists are not people to be afraid of

I had one of these too.

Must have been one of the first few posters I've presented and I knew that poster inside out.  I did all the research on the poster, wrote the poster and put the data together so there was nothing I could not answer.

One person came by and started talking to me about it.  Of the 90 minute session, he must have taken a good 75 minutes of my time.  People would come up to us talking, see who I was talking to and walk away.  However, the person's name tag was hidden and I was utterly clueless as to who he was.  So I answered and answered (I don't think I got grilled this much when I was defending my MS), to the point where I was starting to lose my voice.

Finally, he took his hand out of his pocket to shake my hand.  His name tag flipped over and I got to see the name.  One of the most famous microbiologists that is alive today.  He told me I did a nice job with the poster and a great job talking to me, I obviously knew what I was talking about......and walked away.  His name is all over everything that I work with!

One of the other PIs I worked with came up to congratulate me, apparently this scientist is known for his grilling but rarely, if ever compliments young scientists.

Very inspiring story, mich3554! :)

Figee, I also like the idea of asking the person for contact details so I can get back to them about a question. I'm honestly not sure I WOULD get back to them--I would have to check with my boss first and see if she was okay with me sharing whatever information, and I would tell the person that--but it would put the onus back on them, I think. Do they REALLY want to know the answer, enough to go through the hassle of writing down their email address etc.--or are they just trying to make me feel inferior to them by harping on something I've already said I don't know? At least at that point I could say, "I'm sorry, I've said I'll have to get back to you on that already. Maybe we should move on to other questions?"

I think there's such pressure on the presenter to be ingratiating and accommodating to the questioner--even if you have no idea who they are--that it can be difficult for the presenter to take control of the conversation, you know? If you're even able to think about it in the haze of answering technical questions, it feels kind of rude. The one thing my boss has really drilled into her employees, though, is to never promise/offer anything (data, protocols, collaboration, etc.) to anyone--tell them to contact our boss about that! So maybe I just need to drill myself on ways to politely redirect people away from questions that they're beating to death.

Maybe something like, "Wow, you're really well-versed in ComputerSide.  Did you ever consider going into BioSide, or did you always know that you wanted to go into ComputerSide?"

And then any follow-up direct back to them.  "Oh, so you studied at CompterSideU?  I've heard that their computers are awesome!  Are they as super awesome as they say?  That's so great!  I hope someday I can see super awesome computers, too."


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