If you read my personal blog, you know that I’m on travel for a conference this week. This conference has been much different than the ones I’ve attended before. It was a lot smaller and easier to get to talk to people. I really enjoyed that aspect. Also, I saw a lot of work on areas closely related to fields where I’m working rather than having everything from here to the moon (and, for some conferences, beyond that).
Another area where things were different was the poster session. I mentioned on my own blog that the posters were very visual without much text. I typically ‘narrate’ my posters with text, but they’re typically more visual than others I’ve seen at big conferences. However, this time, I was far more wordy than I should have been. I could’ve easily stripped most of the text and left the pictures, making the poster smaller and saving me a lot of work. However, going around and reading the posters was sometimes difficult. I wasn’t really sure what they were getting at, and unless you asked the person (assuming they weren’t already talking to someone else), you couldn’t necessarily figure it out from the poster.
This is odd, however, as I typically go the other way. I go bananas when someone puts up a powerpoint slide full of text. I know a lot of people do this because the slides are distributed, but I always thought that’s what reports were for. On the other hand, I’ve seen slides full of data and plots. It gets to be too much to process. In particular, I remember a talk where it was slide after slide of data, and I realized that if they’d combined some of them into a single plot with several quantities on the same plot, the talk would’ve been shorter and much easier to follow.
It’s very difficult to get a feel for whether you’re effectively communicating the important details and overall importance of your work. So, readers, do you have any opinions or rules of thumb for the different ways to communicate your work?