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Information for All Presenters

Enter your virtual room at least 15 minutes before your session. You are expected to stay for the duration of your scheduled session. We invite you to attend other virtual sessions during the two day event. We have invited mentors, faculty, students, partners, and others who will be excited to view your work and interact with you.

2021 Session Times:

Thursday and Friday
9:00-11:00am Session 1
11:00am-1:00pm Session 2
1:00-3:00pm Session 3

10 & 5 Minute Talks

You will have 5 or 10 minutes for your oral talk. 10 minute talks have 5 minutes questions, 5 minute talks have time for questions after all presenters have completed their presentations.

A moderator will be in attendance to introduce the session, keep presenters to the allotted time, and to facilitate the question and answer period.

Plan to arrive at your virtual session room early to ensure that your microphone and camera are working and that presentation materials are visible to the audience.

Films and Performances

Films will be shown virtually. Presenters are expected to be present to introduce the project and take questions from audience members.

Presenting Research

Ten Tips

  1. Practice your presentation several times while paying attention to the time and potential questions.
  2. Create a take-home message: What is the single most important thing you want your audience to understand, believe, accept, or do after they hear your presentation?
  3. Explain what it is you find most interesting about your research.
  4. Articulate your take-home message, project’s objective, significance, and important evidence in two or three sentences.
  5. Organize your material into a story that:
    • Outlines the objective, significance, sources, and methodology of your project.
    • Elaborates in the body what you outlined in the introduction.
    • Concludes by explaining why those findings are significant.

    Note that these are the same basic categories that you probably included in your abstract. Here in the talk, you have room to elaborate on the basic information.

  6. Repeat and repeat again: It’s okay to be more repetitive than you would be in a written paper: This will help listeners keep track of how all the pieces of your argument fit together.
  7. Simplify your vocabulary and sentence structure. A presentation is not an academic paper. Don’t try to sound smart and scholarly, it will most likely make your talk sound confusing and ineffective. Use everyday language and speak in a casual manner.
  8. Solicit feedback: Set up an appointment with your mentor and another one with the Writing Center to explain your project, practice your presentation, and to hear firsthand what your listeners find particularly intriguing and relevant.
  9. Avoid confusing jargon that muddles or hides your research behind fancy words.
  10. Use signposts. Signposts are structural aids that help listening audiences keep track of how all of your points are connected. Here are three common ones:
    • Numerical signposts like “first. . . second. . . third. ..”
    • Parallel structure: “The main obstacle Manhattan faces is. . . .” “The main obstacle Queens faces is. . . .” “The main obstacle the Bronx faces is. . . .” .
    • Old-to-new transitions: “I’ll begin by defining the term documentary film . . .” “Now that I have explained what a documentary film is, I would like to focus on the particular example of Sherman’s March to explain how this kind of film can have a peculiar psychological effect on its viewers. . . .” “And so we see that documentary films can have a very peculiar effect on their viewers. This larger-scale effect is relevant to us today because. . . .”

Common Concerns

How Long Should I Talk?

Talk for as long as it takes to get your point across within the allotted time, but not so long that you’ve lost people. Look at your audience and watch for cues. It takes about two minutes to read one typed, double-spaced page. Practice in the mirror. Speak slowly. Try this out on your cat, dog, or roommate. At the end of the talk ask if there are any questions and be prepared to answer them.

What If My Research Is Ongoing?

Scholars often present their work before their projects are complete. You have several options:

If you do not have a definitive conclusion, you can discuss the kind of results you hope to obtain and the significance of these results.

Keep in mind that your explanation of those results, their significance, is more important than the raw results themselves.

Within this framework, some presenters choose to state their results and their significance in their introduction and then show how they arrived at those results in the body of the talk.


Creating a Poster

Poster Basics

  1. Know your audience. In general, your audience members will fall into one of two groups:
    • People who know and understand your topic. Some people will be familiar with the basic concepts you’re working with, but don’t assume that they are familiar with all of the technical details.
    • People who don’t know anything about your topic. This audience gives you an opportunity to teach them about the interesting information you’ve been learning and to convince them that the kind of work you are is important and has relevance.
  2. Determine your take-home message.
    • What is the single most important thing you want your audience to understand, believe, accept, or do after they see your poster?
    • Include a succinct statement of your project’s main argument, and the evidence that supports that argument.
    • Choose a few key pieces of evidence that most clearly illustrate your take-home message.
    • Use visuals to distill and communicate your take-home message quickly and easily.
  3. Your poster should answer the following questions:
    • How did you conduct your research?
    • What real-world problems or questions prompted you to undertake this project?
    • What does this project mean for you or others?
    • How do your findings impact scholars in your field and members of the broader intellectual community?
  4. Keep the information minimal and scannable.
    • Long, complex sentences are difficult for viewers to absorb.
    • Use simple terms; avoid jargon
    • Use interesting visuals, bold headings, and bulleted or numbered lists.
    • Don’t write paragraphs of information. Make it scannable!
    • Be concise, precise, and straightforward.
  5. Be ready to talk about your project.
    • What you choose to say about your project is just as important as your poster.
    • Be ready to answer questions and provide details about your project.
    • Make sure you review the details of your project that were too small to include in the poster. You’ll want to expound on that information in your conversations with viewers.
    • Don’t read from your poster. Use the poster as a visual aid only, and know your material well.
  6. Let viewers digest your poster before you engage with them.
    • Don’t rush your viewers. Let them acquaint themselves with your project, and then offer to guide them through the poster.
    • Greet viewers with a “hello” and a “thanks” for stopping.
    • “Would you like a guided tour of my project?” This greeting usually works better than asking “Do you have any questions?” because after only a few moments, viewers might not have had time to come up with questions.
  7. Practice talking through your poster.
    • Show your poster to friends, classmates, and your mentor ahead of time to get a feel for how viewers might respond.
    • Prepare a five-minute overview of the project, walking viewers through the poster, drawing their attention to the most critical points and filling in interesting details as needed.
    • Make note of the kinds of questions you’re asked, and be ready to answer them.

Free Poster Printing on Campus

UGS 2021 is virtual and therefore poster printing is not available.

College Library’s InfoLab generously prints student posters for the Undergraduate Symposium at no cost to presenters. The cost per poster paid for by College Library is about $50 per poster. Please be responsible for your poster, and value the time and effort of those helping make the Symposium a success.

There are other locations on campus that print posters, including DoIT, other libraries, and some departments. These units may have limitations on who can print and will charge a fee. Presenters who print their posters at locations other than College Library or after the allotted printing window will assume responsibility for all printing costs.

DesignLab consultants can help you design your poster and fine-tune your presentation. Make an appointment or drop-in: They are located in 2250 College Library.

Guidelines for poster printing at College Library

  1. The poster should be 43” width by 36” height.
  2. Be sure to zoom into 100% on your images to make sure they are clear and not pixelated. TIP: Good images are large in size and about 150-200 ppi. You should never make a picture bigger, only smaller.
  3. CHECK THOROUGHLY FOR ERRORS BEFORE SUBMITTING. College Library will not reprint your poster for free, unless there are errors caused by their equipment or staff oversight. If you need to reprints your poster the cost will be $43 (=$4 per square foot).
  4. Poster files should be submitted as a TIFF file. If you create a poster using PowerPoint, be sure to convert “Save As” a TIFF using a Windows version of PowerPoint. (PowerPoint for Mac will downsize the poster to 8.5x11in, which is too small to print.)
    1. You will need to indicate when dropping off your poster if you prefer satin or glossy paper.
    2. The filename should follow this format: “US-FirstNameLastName_satin.tif” or “US-FirstNameLastName_glossy.tif
  5. Participants can start submitting their posters for printing on Friday, March 20, 2020. The deadline for submitting your poster to be printed is 11:59pm, Sunday, March 29, 2020.
  6. Submit poster files to the College Library InfoLab Help Desk in person (second floor of Helen C. White Hall). The filename should include the student’s name and “US”, ie: “StudentName_US.tif”. It may take a few days for your poster to be printed and ready for you to pick up. Do not wait until the last day to turn in your poster! The earlier you get it in, the sooner you will get it back and can check for errors.
  7. For more information, contact College Library Computer and Media Center, Room 2250 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, 263-9889.