Know your audience(s): consider the alternatives

Diagram of good poster with clear message Diagram of good poster with no message
Do this ...

Design for all three audience categories.

... not this

Design only for specialists in your field.

  • Make your poster accessible to a wide-ranging audience so that you can gain valuable insights and ideas that you hadn't anticipated from people in other fields.
  • Design your poster so that only those in your specialty will understand, because you are not interested in the insight of others or links to seemingly distant fields.
  • Explain clearly the nature of the problem you are working on, and why it is an important issue that the reader should care about.
  • Omit all contextual information and just start describing your work as if everyone should know why it's important and why they should care.
  • Explain things in clear language, without using disciplinary jargon and acronyms.
  • Assume that everyone knows your field intimately and fill your poster with jargon and acronyms that will make it opaque to all but the four other specialists in your field.
  • Interpret your findings in the conclusion and explain what they mean in terms of the big-picture problem you're working on.
  • Leave your conclusions uninterpreted and assume that everyone will understand how they relate to the context you never provided.