How to Create a Poster that Attracts an Audience: New Research Yields Clues

Have you ever designed a poster to present at a nursing conference?

If so, how did you know what to do?

Today, digital design and printing capabilities present many options for professional-looking posters. But how can you increase the chances that nurses at a conference will actually read what you’ve gone to so much trouble to share?

In this month’s AJN, Sandra Siedlecki, PhD, RN, CNS, senior nurse scientist at the Cleveland Clinic, discusses the attributes of a good poster in an original research article: “How to Create a Poster That Attracts an Audience.”

Past articles in the nursing literature have described how to create a “winning poster,” but Siedlecki could find no actual evidence-based recommendations about poster design. So she set out to learn what attracts nurses to specific posters by surveying attendees at a nursing conference.

What captures the attention of conference attendees?

In addition to asking nurses to rate the importance of various poster design elements on a scale of zero to 10, Siedlecki also asked attendees these open-ended questions:

  • When walking through a poster session, how do you select the posters you will take a closer look at? What is most important to you?
  • How do you select the posters to read completely? What is most important to that decision?

The results of this survey provide detailed information on why “some posters just attract you from across the room,” as one attendee put it. A majority of respondents were drawn to a symmetrical, three-column layout, a light background color, and an uncluttered appearance. Respondents didn’t like neon-colored posters, cartoons, or tiny print size.

Siedlecki learned that, in general, poster-viewing decisions were based first on aesthetics and then on relevance. “Aesthetics” includes the visual appeal of the poster, its color, organization, and layout, as well as design elements such as graphs and figures. These are what drew nurses in to actually look at a poster. After that, it was the poster’s relevance to each nurse’s personal or professional interests (as indicated by the poster title) that determined whether or not a nurse would continue to read.

Design your next poster after reading the article in this month’s issue. It includes a full page of detailed “suggestions for creating a poster that will attract an audience,” based on the results of this survey, along with a list of online resources for nursing conference poster design.

2017-03-13T10:13:59+00:00 March 10th, 2017|Nursing, nursing research|0 Comments

About the Author:

Clinical editor, American Journal of Nursing (AJN), and epidemiologist

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