General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Poster presentation etiquette

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--- Quote from: mich3554 on December 06, 2012, 09:56:19 PM ---
For Deetee, in a scheduled poster session, you cannot take off and leave your poster during a scheduled poster presentation.  You have to stand in front of the poster for the 90 minutes and be 'on' for everyone and anyone who comes by. 

--- End quote ---

I have attended a large number of scientific poster sessions myself as both an attendee and presenter and while you should be generally available, often the posters are unattended for brief periods, so I know that heading off for a few minutes is fine.

Sometime people are manning multiple posters. Sometimes people put up posters and leave. Sometimes people want to ask questions on someone elses posters and often people will drift off and come back if they see someone near a poster. And of course people head off to grab a drink or get caught is a side discussion. Poster sessions are also social sessions.


--- Quote from: Lynn2000 on December 06, 2012, 08:54:06 PM ---She told me she had just finished her advanced degree and was starting her post-degree job, and her boss had been nice enough to let her come to this conference even though she was brand-new. Also, there was no one else around that she seemed aware of (like, someone she was trying to impress).

--- End quote ---

Well, isn't she special?! I think she was trying to impress you with her overwhelming superiority. I agree with the PPs - it's not at all rude to slip off for a few minutes for a drink or a rest stop. Most people will take that as their cue to move on.

I had a similar experience a few years ago, and I think I posted about it here. In essence, I was talking to a lady about an article I was writing, and she latched onto one small detail and insisted on telling me that I had clearly got it completely wrong. It didn't matter what I said or how I tried to change the subject, she simply wouldn't stop. In retrospect, it was actually quite funny, since she had absolutely no expertise in my field, but at the time it really felt like a slap in the face. So I sympathise.

Its days like this where I am so glad I never went to an academic grad school :-)

Let me give you some tips from my husband -

(1) Suck up.  Because some of the most socially inept are powerful in academia, and its never a good idea to do anything but suck up.  "That's a great point.  We haven't investigated that yet.  I'm still not as far along as I could be."  He's good at then taking notes and asking questions to the questioner.  To be fair once, a few years ago, this provided a brilliant insight. 

(2) Develop a tiny bladder.  No one can really argue with a need to go to the bathroom.   The poster should not be left unattended, but the look of panic, a hurried apology, and a dash and dash back is a worst case scenario.

(3) Pawn the person off on the next poster.  Enthusiastically complement the next poster, somehow tying it into the question, then introduce the questioner.  Pray they are distracted. 

Another long time poster presenter here.

My advice, if she shows up again, is to entertain her questions for a while but don't let her monopolize your time.  If she starts to become strident just excuse yourself and direct your attention to other people who are looking at your poster asking "Does anyone have any questions?" or "Would you like me to walk you through the data?"  Spending all of your time with one person at your poster deprives you of the opportunity to network with others....who may turn out to be a lot more helpful for your career development than Ms. Let-Me-Impress-You.

Funny Poster Story

A few years ago I had recently had a strong disagreement with a prominent journal editor over one of my publications.  I knew who he was but he did not know me by sight.  At my poster session I saw him coming down my row to look at posters.  He stopped at my poster and then turned around to me and asked in a cutesy voice "Oh, are you the person who hates me?"  And with a complete stone face I asnwered "Yes, I am."  He was completely taken aback and literally ran away while stammering apologies.

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

OP here. Thanks for the replies, everyone. I frequently go with, "Oh, that's a great idea, I'll have to look into that more," when someone gets pushy, but I've found that it doesn't actually deter many people. :( I will try to focus more on asking them about themselves and what they do, as a distraction... I've done that before, but sometimes it's hard to remember when you feel like someone is really jumping on you. I'm also not opposed to leaving for a "bathroom break" for five minutes or so, if it would shake a person who's gotten downright rude. I will keep that in mind.

--- Quote from: mich3554 on December 06, 2012, 09:56:19 PM ---However, I will give you one of my pet peeves.  I want to know information about a poster and will ask what method is used and the sensitivity of the method.  Many times, a get the 'deer in the headlight' look and the poster presenter says...'well, I didn't do that so I don't know'.  As far as I am concerned, if something is on the poster, it is fair game and the presenter should be schooled in how they got the data that they are presenting....even if it is only 10% of the poster.

--- End quote ---

I knew someone was going to say this. :) And I agree, it is completely a valid point. In this case, I felt I gave her "reasonable" answers to her questions, but she wanted to go into much greater detail, even when I tried to defer her. I think next time I will be more firm about just repeating over and over again, "You'll need to talk to my boss Dr. Smith about that."

She was interested in a single computer program in the data analysis portion of my project and her questions were, I felt, not things I could be reasonably expected to know about the code and the algorithms and so forth, given that I'm on the biology side. She was on the computer side and was actually familiar with that program herself; and she projected this sort of astounded disbelief that we had used it for this project, when she felt another program would have been more appropriate. Okay, great, thanks for the info, but you realize I can't magically erase my poster, redo the data analysis while we stand here, and change my entire research career around to suit you, random person looking at my poster... right? That was kind of the attitude she had.  ::)


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