The best Research Fair presenters have a ~2 minute “elevator speech” prepared and practiced, ready to say to guests of their presentations.
This page presents some helpful tips and ideas to think about when creating the spoken part of your presentation.
Your elevator speech should focus on the main findings of your project or the main goals of your creative or practical experiences. Two minutes is short, so you won’t have time to mention every small detail. Allow your guests to lead further discussion with their questions.
Use your poster as a visual tool to guide your elevator speech. Refer to graphs, images, figures, and charts, if you include them. But don’t read your poster word-for-word to your guests.
Another tip? Attach a piece of paper with a basic presentation outline to the back one of the outer flaps of your display board. You can discreetly refer to it if you get caught speechless and forget your lines!
View every interaction as one that can make a difference. Always be ready to give your attention to your viewer(s) – they might be a future collaborator or a future professor.
Interact with the viewers and be courteous; include others if they approach and want to hear your elevator speech and the follow-up conversation.
Guests to your presentation will probably have lots of questions! Depending on the type of project or experience featured in your presentation, you might hear questions like these:
Beware of using acronyms and jargon as you speak. Assume your audience has a limited understanding of your area of work, and so they might not understand abbreviations or shortened words that are part of the terminology of your research topic.
Successful Research Fair presenters will rehearse their 1-2 minute presentation speech several times before the day of the Fair. You can try any of these strategies:
Practice more than you think you need to; your fair experience will be better for it.
Make good eye contact with visitors to your table.
Acknowledge visitors with a smile, and offer your elevator speech.
Be mindful of time; don't be overly chatty if you know you're a talkative person, and encourage chatty visitors to visit other displays if it seems they're staying too long.
Work with your neighbors to help keep the flow of visitors moving comfortably.
If you don’t know how to answer a question from a Research Fair guest, don’t try to fake it. Instead, be confident in your response! Here are some ways you can respond to a tough question:
Want some more help? Here’s a small collection of academic websites offering poster presentation guidance, including elevator speeches!
The contents of this page were adapted with permission from a research poster presentation guide created by Louisiana State University.