The conference I was at last week included a session in which each poster presenter was given a one-slide, 60-second slot—a movie trailer for their poster, you might say. It’s an interesting approach, though I’m still unsure whether I like it or not. One thing that really struck me was that the vast majority of presenters never even stated what their main finding was. Most of them were like, “Here’s the general topic of my poster and the organism I study. If you want to hear more, come by my poster.” I found it frustrating as both as a potential poster viewer and as someone who believes in taking scientific communication seriously. So please, poster presenters and papers writers of the world:
Scientists already struggle with a deluge of more papers, posters, and talks than they could ever feasibly process. Give them reason to believe their time and attention will be well-spent on yours.
Also, the whole “if you want to hear more, come by my poster” bit is just wasted time and breath. Advertisements for toothpaste don’t bother saying “Buy FluoroWhite Tooth Creme if you want teeth like this!” because they know their viewers already recognize the ad for what it is—an ad.