Guidelines for Meeting Participants
These guidelines are meant to help session chairs, speakers, and poster presenters in preparing their presentations for upcoming SIAM meetings.
Chairs of Plenary, Minisymposia, and Contributed Sessions
Prior to the beginning of your session:
- Review the online program to determine if there are any changes/cancellations to the session you are chairing. The online program is always the most up-to-date.
- Plan to be in the room approximately 10 minutes before your session starts.
- Identify yourself to the speakers, check who is the designated speaker for each paper and verify the title. Also check the pronunciation of the speaker's name and affiliation.
- Check the condition of your meeting room, especially the audio-visual equipment. If assistance is required, call the number of the onsite A/V representative (provided on a printed sheet on the table). If a printed sheet is not provided, visit the Registration Desk for assistance, and be prepared to indicate which meeting room you are in and the session you are chairing. Find out what A/V equipment will be available. SIAM does not provide computers. The provided data projectors support both VGA and HDMI connections. Presenters requiring an alternate connection must provide their own adapter.
During the Session:
- Start on time. Timing and floor discussion are your responsibilities.
- Keep the introductions very brief when changing speakers.
- Please have all the speakers use the microphone when one is provided.
- Make sure the presenters do not block the view of the screen.
- Hold each speaker to the allotted time as posted online.
- Remind speakers about their remaining time. Tell each presenter the procedure you will use (like flash cards or hand signals). Inquire at the registration desk about availability of flash cards.
- Pay close attention to the time. We count on each session chair to keep the sessions on schedule.
- If a presenter ends early or is a "no show," use the extra time for questions and comments. Refrain from starting the next talk early. If there is a cancelled talk, DO NOT move up the subsequent talk(s). Simply recess during the cancelled time, and resume your session with the next talk as scheduled in the program. This enables all attendees to read and follow the published schedule. It is critical SIAM is notified of "no show" or speaker changes. Advise the Registration Desk or email SIAM Conferences with any undocumented cancellations or replacement speakers. If the online program includes accurate session information, no action is necessary.
- When questions are asked, ensure that the audience has heard the question. Restate the question if needed.
- End on time. Urge the audience to continue discussion elsewhere.
Guidelines for Speakers
- Arrive at the meeting room 10 minutes before your session starts. Introduce yourself to the session chair and confirm the title of your presentation.
- Pointers will be provided. You will find one on the table located in front of the session room. Avoid blocking the audience's view of the screen.
- Speak from notes to keep on track; do not read from your paper or from the screen.
- You must speak within the time limit, allowing time for the audience to ask questions.
- Speak clearly and at a reasonable pace, but speak loud enough to be heard in the back of the room.
- Extend some courtesy to the remaining speakers; end on time and stay for the entire session.
- Use effective audio-visual aids. Refer to Audio Visual Equipment below.
- Please review some tips for effective presentations below.
- SIAM does not supply computers. When giving an electronic presentation, speakers must provide their own computers. SIAM is not responsible for the safety and security of speakers’ computers.
- The Plenary Session room will have two screens, one data projector, and one overhead projector. All other concurrent/breakout rooms will have one screen and one data projector. The data projectors support both VGA and HDMI connections. Presenters requiring an alternate connection must provide their own adaptor.
- Overhead projectors will be provided only when requested. If you would like to request an overhead projector for your session, please email SIAM Conferences at least four weeks prior to the conference.
- A poster format involves the use of non-electronic visual aids for mounting on a 4’ x 6’ or 4’ x 8’ poster board. Poster presenters may not order any additional audio-visual equipment.
- Invited Plenary Speakers may request additional equipment, subject to availability and cost. Invited speakers must send a request for additional audio-visual equipment to the SIAM Meeting Manager, or email SIAM Conferences, at least four weeks prior to the conference.
Tips for Making Effective Presentations
"There are so many little details that make the difference between a mediocre presentation creation and an effective presentation creation and delivery." - Martin Schaffel, President and CEO of Audio Visual Innovations, Inc. "And they really do go hand in hand. How you create the presentation will have a direct bearing on how you deliver it."
What's in it for them?
This cuts to the heart of effective presenting - knowing your audience. "The key question to answer, in your mind and in your audience's mind, is 'So what?'" says Sam Malik, Toshiba's National Sales and Marketing Manager. "If, as you're presenting, you can answer that question for each piece of information that you're providing - succinctly and in a way that's meaningful to the audience - it makes all the difference in the world."
"Consider the needs of your audience first, prepare to meet those needs in a dynamic way, and your presentation is bound to succeed," recommends Todd Savitt, Director of Corporate Communications for Proxima Corp.
Build a Series of Points Sequentially
"If you have five points on a bullet chart and you put them all up at the same time, they're going to read all five when you're talking about the first one. Use the slides to build your series of points," advises Martin Schaffel.
"Someone once said 18 minutes is the ideal length for a speech -- long enough to give them substance, but short enough not to bore them," says Mario Cuomo, the former three-term governor of New York.
"And consider starting with a big-picture perspective," says Proxima's Savitt. "It's safe to assume that members of your audience are pressed for time, and could use an up-front summary of what's to come."
Get Your Money's Worth on Your Presentations Software
"PowerPoint, Persuasion, Harvard Graphics - they're all tremendous tools, but only if you learn how to use them fully," says Clint Hoffman, Marketing Manager for the Display Products Group of Sony Electronics, Inc.
Choose Your Colors Carefully
If you put blue text on a red background (or vice versa), your audience will probably see, to quote the Jimi Hendrix song, purple haze. Make sure the color you use on your text has "pop" - that is, that it jumps off the background color. For instance, red or blue text on a white background works nicely.
Don't Overload the Slide
Break up the information you're sharing with your audience into digestible chunks. Putting too much information on a slide is a dead giveaway that you don't know what you're doing.
Use a Big Enough Font
Having to squint is annoying. Don't you agree?
"My rule of thumb is, if you're in front of a group and you think you're speaking at the right speed, you're probably speaking way too fast," says Schaffel. "Only if it seems slow to you is it at the right speed for them. Especially if you're building points in a presentation and the last point you made is crucial to the point you're about to make, then you really need to know that they're with you."
Above All, Keep Trying
Giving a good speech or making a good presentation doesn't come naturally to anybody. "Even the greatest speakers were once rank amateurs," says Cuomo.
Adapted from Hemispheres Magazine, June '97.
Policy on Substitute Speakers and Remote Presentations
SIAM expects those who agree to present at a SIAM conference or workshop to attend the meeting and present the talk in person. Exceptions can be made only in the rarest of circumstances, on a case-by-case basis.
If an invited plenary speaker or prize speaker finds he/she cannot attend to present, he/she should inform the conference co-chairs immediately. If there is sufficient lead time, the co-chairs can find a replacement speaker who can attend. However, if the plenary speaker or prize speaker cannot attend due to a last-minute emergency, then the co- chairs and SIAM can consider options for remote presentation. All remote presentations require advanced approval from the SIAM Vice President for Programs. Each situation will have unique circumstances. The co-chairs and SIAM should consider whether the venue is suitable for a remote presentation and should ensure there is sufficient A/V and Internet/phone as necessary to support a remote presentation. SIAM will allow co-chairs to explore all reasonable options, including Skype-like sessions and prerecorded presentations with the speaker available for questions by phone and a session chair to run the presentation. SIAM will consider the cost implications, but cost considerations will be secondary to the quality of the conference attendee experience.
Remote presentations for minisymposium, contributed talk, or posters will not be considered, except in extenuating circumstances (see below). If a presenter for a minisymposium, contributed talk, or poster cannot present for any reason, the best option is to have a co-author in attendance give the presentation. Minisymposia presenters may also work with their minisymposia organizers to find another qualified person to give the presentation if necessary. Contributed talk and poster presenters can work with the meeting co-chairs to find another qualified person to give the presentation if necessary. In the cases mentioned above, the one talk per presenter rule will be waived. In most cases, if there is no suitable replacement, then minisymposium, contributed talk or poster speakers, should work with the session chairs and the conference meeting manager to cancel the talk.
There is one case where SIAM will consider a remote presentation: if a speaker is from a country whose citizens are currently banned from entering the U.S., the speaker and minisymposia organizers or the co-chairs should first explore options for a replacement speaker. If none can be found, the conference co-chairs may consider a remote presentation for a minisymposium or contributed talk subject to the above requirements, including approval in advance by the SIAM Vice President for Programs. Poster presenters who are citizens of countries banned from entering the U.S. can work with the conference co-chairs or the meeting manager to ship their poster to the meeting. It will be hung for viewing, even if the presenter cannot attend.
Replacement speakers and speakers presenting remotely should be registered for the meeting. Reimbursement of registration fees are subject to the guidelines posted on the meeting registration information page.
If the meeting is outside the U.S. or handled by local organizers, SIAM encourages the organizers to adapt these guidelines in a way that is appropriate to the circumstances in that country.
Guidelines for Poster Presenters
Poster presentations foster the exchange of ideas between the contributor and those who have a specific interest in the contributor's work. Poster presentations enable the presenters to proceed at a pace consistent with the interests of the group gathered around them. Presenters selected for a poster session will be located together in one room and organized in alphabetical order by the presenting author’s last name.
For more information, refer to Sven Hammarling and Nicholas J. Higham's article "How to Prepare a Poster."
How to Prepare Your Presentation
- Your presentation should be based on displayed material.
- A concise statement of the problem and the results obtained should be a conspicuous part of the display.
- The display should be designed to take advantage of the fact that the presentation need not be "linearly ordered" as in a talk or written paper. For example, arrows directing the viewer to various parts of the display, and color-coding of different aspects of the work may be used to advantage.
- Creative use of graphic detail such as drawings, charts and tables is recommended.
- Use lightweight materials -not cardboard. Thumbtacks or pushpins must be able to hold them when mounted to the poster board.
- You must provide your own title-sign. Lettering should be about 2" high. Display materials should fit within the dimensions of the poster board (typically 4' high x 6' wide or 4' high x 8' wide), and should be legible from a distance of 10-12 feet.
- Test the readability of your display before you arrive at the meeting.
At the Meeting
- Each poster presenter will have a space approximately 5 feet square between each row of posters. Presenters should be available for the duration of the session to answer questions and discuss their work.
- Check the program to determine what time poster boards will be available for you to access and set up your poster materials. Locate your assigned poster board and post materials using the provided pushpins.
- Please remove your posted materials by the requested time. Any materials left on the poster board afterward will be removed and discarded. SIAM is not responsible for any discarded materials.
Poster boards are ordered and rented one month prior to the meeting dates. The rental cost per board, including delivery and installation, is $65. This expense is shouldered by SIAM. However, if a poster presenter cancels his or her presentation without notifying SIAM at least three weeks before the start of the meeting, the presenter is responsible for paying the rental fee. The presenter should remit SIAM payment of $65.
Poster presenters and conference organizers alike should take posters seriously, giving thought to their preparation and display and to their role in a conference.
by Sven Hammarling and Nicholas J. Higham
Poster sessions are an increasingly important part of scientific conferences, and many of us are rather inexperienced in their preparation and presentation. Having been involved in organizing and judging poster sessions, however, we have given some thought to what we consider to be desirable features of a poster. (We do not address here the publication of the poster material in a conference proceedings.)
What is a Poster?
A poster is very different from a paper or a talk, and so different techniques need to be used in its preparation. In particular, a poster is not a conference paper, and simply pinning a paper to a poster board usually makes a very poor poster. A poster board is typically 4 feet high and 6 feet wide, but the reverse orientation (tall and thin) is also seen. It is advisable to check beforehand on the size of the boards that will be available to you. A poster itself is a visual presentation comprising whatever the contributor wishes to display on the poster board. Usually, a poster is made up entirely of sheets of paper pinned or attached with velcro strips to the board, but there is no reason why other visual aids should not be used. The pins or velcro are usually provided with the board by the conference sponsors.
The purpose of a poster is to outline a piece of work in a form that is easily assimilated and stimulates interest and discussion. The ultimate aim is a fruitful exchange of ideas between the presenter and the people reading the poster, but you should not be disappointed if readers do not stop to chat—a properly prepared poster will at least have given useful information and food for thought.
A Poster Tells a Story
In preparing a poster, simplicity is the key. A typical reader may spend only a few minutes looking at the poster, so there should be a minimum of clutter and a maximum of pithy, informative statements and attractive, enlightening graphics. A poster should tell a story. As always in a scientific presentation, the broad outline includes a statement of the problem, a description of the method of attack, a presentation of results, and then a summary of the work. But within that format, there is much scope for ingenuity. A question-and-answer format, for example, may be appropriate for part of the poster.
A poster should not contain a lot of details—the presenter can always communicate the fine points to interested participants. In particular, it is not a good idea to present proofs, except in brief outline, unless the proofs are the focus of the presentation. Keep in mind that the poster will be one of many in the exhibition area: You need to make sure that it will capture and hold the reader’s attention.
The poster should begin with a definition of the problem, together with a concise statement of the motivation for the work. It is not necessary to write in complete sentences; sentence fragments may be easier to comprehend. Bulleted lists are effective. An alternative is to break the text into chunks—small units that are not necessarily paragraphs in the usual sense. For presenting results, graphs and figures—easier to scan than the columns of figures in a table—are even more appropriate than in a paper. Legends should be minimal. A brief description of the implications of a graphic, placed just above or below it, is helpful. For ideas on graphic design, a wide selection of books is available; either of the books by Tufte [3, 4] would be an especially good choice. Conclusions, again, should be brief, and they should leave the reader with a clear message to take away.
Designing Your Poster
Suggestions on the physical design of a poster range from the obvious to the not so obvious. First, as we mentioned earlier, it is definitely unacceptable to post a copy of a paper
A poster is usually formed from separate sheets of letter paper: 8'' × 11'' (U.S.) or A4 (Europe). The number of pages should be minimized—for these sizes a suggested maximum is 15. But larger sheets, or even sheets of differing sizes within one poster, can also be very effective.
Whatever the size of the sheets, the typeface chosen should be considerably larger than standard. Because not all readers will have perfect eyesight, and because the crowd of readers around a popular poster may be several people deep, the type should be easily readable by a person standing a few feet away. In particular, the title of the poster and the author’s name should be large and prominent. If it is not convenient to print directly at the desired typesize, pages can be magnified on a photocopier. Good use can be made of color, both to provide a more interesting image and for color coding of the text. A colored backing card for each sheet can be effective. For added interest, try including an appropriate cartoon, photograph, or quotation. There is plenty of scope for creativity.
If the sheets are arranged as a matrix, two layouts are possible: horizontal (reading across the rows) and vertical (reading down the columns). While the horizontal ordering is perhaps more natural, it has the major disadvantage of requiring the reader to move to and fro along the poster; if there are many readers, congestion can result. A vertical ordering is therefore preferable, although other possibilities should be considered as well. If you are comparing three methods, for example, you could display them in parallel form, in three rows or columns, perhaps as a “display within a display.” Consider the possibility of arranging the poster to represent some feature of the problem, such as a particular sparsity structure of a matrix. If there is any doubt about the order in which the sheets should be read, guide the reader by numbering the sheets clearly or linking them with arrows. Think carefully about the use of the poster board. One extreme is to spread the sheets out to make full use of the board—taking care to position them at a height at which they can be read by both the short and the tall. If there are only a few sheets, it may be best to concentrate them in a small area, where a reader can proceed from beginning to end while standing in one position. Images of some of the posters presented at the IMA Conference on Linear Algebra and Its Applications, held at the University of Manchester in July 1995, are available online. Several examples of layout and further discussion are given by Matthews .
Transportation and the Poster Session
Transporting a poster can be a problem if it contains large sheets of paper. Rolling the paper into a cylinder is the most common system. You will usually be allotted plenty of time to set up the poster, so it may be easiest to bring it in pieces, to be assembled on site (but be sure to work out the layout beforehand—and bring a diagram!). If the work presented in the poster has been described in more detail in a paper, consider making the paper available as a handout at the poster session.
Once the session starts, stand near the poster but not in a position that obscures it from view. Be prepared to answer the questions that a good poster will inevitably generate. But keep in mind the advice of one expert: “A presenting author at a poster session should behave like a waiter in a first-class restaurant, who is there when needed but does not aggravate the guests by interrupting conversation every 10 minutes to inquire whether they are enjoying the food” .
A Word to Conference Organizers
If we wish presenters to take poster sessions seriously, and if we want the submission of a poster to be seen as a viable alternative to giving a talk, then it behooves conferences organizers not to treat the presenters as second-class citizens. This means making poster sessions an integral part of the conference program, providing appropriate facilities for the setting up and presentation of posters, and encouraging conference participants to attend the poster sessions. Proper time should be allowed in the program for the poster sessions; adequate boards, fasteners, and space should be provided, and the poster rooms should not be remote from the rest of the conference. If the dining area is large enough, consider having some posters there—a good audience is assured! A poster prize is also worthy of consideration.
Our experience suggests that the effort of encouraging poster presenters is rewarded with posters of sound technical content and pleasing visual effect.
 Robert R.H. Anholt, Dazzle ’em With Style: The Art of Oral Scientific Presentation, W.H. Freeman, New York, 1994.
 Diane L. Matthews, The Scientific Poster: Guidelines for Effective Visual Communication, Technical Communication, 37 (3) 1990, 225–232.
 Edward R. Tufte,The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut, 1983.
 Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut, 1990.
Learn more about Sven Hammarling.
Learn more about Nicholas J. Higham.