Presentation Guidelines

The 2021 SCymposium consists primarily of virtual poster presentations. The following guidelines apply mainly to standard research posters, but students entering artistic or non-traditional entries should provide similar summary information about their work.

Poster Guidelines

For the SCymposium registration form, you must upload your digital poster as a PDF file.

Poster must fit on a single page/slide and be easily sharable and viewable on your screen during a Zoom webinar. When presenting your work, you cannot include transitions to multiple slides. To create your poster, we recommend using Microsoft PowerPoint, or programs such as Canva, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign.

Traditional research posters follow a 3-column layout and generally contain the following components:

  • Title and Author(s) Names
  • Introduction / Abstract / Background
  • Hypothesis
  • Materials & Methodology
  • Results / Analysis / Discussion
  • Conclusion / Limitations / Recommendations
  • References / Citations / Acknowledgements
Image credit: Colin Purrington

Your poster should concisely address key points of your work. Posters should achieve wide coverage of the topic while maintaining clarity. Below are additional suggestions for creating an effective poster:

  • Put the project title in banner format at the top center of the poster in capital letters about 1” high. Below the title, put your name (and names of group members, if applicable) and the category in which you are competing.
  • Create a visual flow of your components so it is going downward in columns, starting at the top left and ending at the bottom right.
  • Make sure the poster is readable. The smallest text should be at 12 point font. Important points should be in larger type.
  • Concision is key. Do not overwhelm your sections with text.
  • Avoid heavy use of technical jargon (if possible).
  • Incorporate visual elements (e.g. pictures, photographs, diagrams, figures, tables) when appropriate.
  • Keep formatting consistent and clean. Avoid using too many colors or different font types.

Video Statement

As part of the SCymposium registration, you will include a short video statement that provides a quick overview of your research project. You are welcome to use existing language from your abstract or project description. This is also good practice for your live presentation during your Poster Exhibit session!

This video will be viewed by judges in advance of your Exhibit Session. With your permission, we can also share your video on the AHF website and social media platforms during SCymposium week.

  • Video must be no more than 2 minutes in duration.
  • Your statement should include the following:
    • Start with your name, and the title of your research project.
    • Explain your research question and any relevant background or context.
    • Provide summary of methodology, findings, and next steps (if any).
  • There is no emphasis on production value. You are welcome to record yourself using your laptop or phone camera. Again, this is meant to give judges a quick snapshot of your research project.
  • Please upload video file as .mp4 or .mov

Exhibit Presentation

Prepare a 3-minute presentation that you will deliver in real time to the judges and audience during your assigned Poster Exhibit session. The presentation will be followed by a 3-minute Q&A with the judging panel. 

If your poster is a group effort, more than one author should attend the session to aid in the presentation and/or answer questions from judges

Tips for Delivering a Successful Presentation: 

  • What is the Why?
    • Why is the research topic significant? Why should the audience care about this topic? How does the research question add to or fill in gaps of existing literature? These should be addressed at the start of your presentation to capture to audience’s interest.
  • Know Your Audience 
    • Keep in mind that the SCymposium is meant for the general audience. While your project will be evaluated by faculty judges and postdocs who are generally familiar with your field of study, but they may not know the specific contexts around your project.
    • Think of ways to relate complex ideas to everyday experiences. Use analogies or current events to situate abstract concepts to concrete examples.
    • Avoid heavy technical jargon. If there are terms specific to your field of study, be sure to define them at the start of the presentation.
  • Conclude with Takeaways
    • At the end of your presentation, summarize conclusions and potential next steps. Give the audience 1-2 significant points to take way from your presentation.
  • Practice, practice, practice!
    • Rehearse with a timer to make sure you are able to address all of your points. You can also record yourself or practice in front of a mirror.
    • Pay attention to your pacing — it’s okay to take a breath and have a few pauses — you want to try and sound as natural and conversational as possible.
    • Get feedback from your faculty advisor or project partners.
  • Keep It Professional
    • Yes, this is a virtual presentation, but keep in mind that professionalism is still an expectation. Remember, your presentation will be broadcasted to the larger USC community! Make sure you have a neutral background, and we recommend that you dress professionally.
  • Study Examples of Great Presentations