Presenter FAQs

General Questions

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What is the Undergraduate Symposium?

The Undergraduate Symposium is an annual showcase and celebration of undergraduate research, scholarly work, service-learning, community-based research, creative projects, and fine arts. All UW-Madison undergraduates are eligible to apply to present, and all mentors, faculty, staff, community members, family, and friends are invited to attend.

Why do students present at the symposium?

The Undergraduate Symposium is a great opportunity to:

  • Gain experience presenting your work in a professional setting
  • Build valuable presentation, public speaking, and networking skills (which are essential for many graduate and professional pursuits!)
  • Connect with, learn from, and be inspired by students both in and outside of your field
  • Meet and share your work with other mentors and faculty members
  • Celebrate your achievements and those of your peers!

When and where is the Undergraduate Symposium?

The 2024 Undergraduate Symposium will be held on Thursday, April 25 on floor 2 and 3 of Union South.

Who is eligible to present at the symposium?

All UW-Madison undergraduates are eligible to submit an application to present at the Undergraduate Symposium. All students who submit a complete application with a complete and signed mentor approval form will be able to participate in the symposium.

Who is invited to attend the symposium?

The Undergraduate Symposium is a public event and open to all who would like to attend. We encourage you to invite your mentors, instructors, advisors, friends, and family.

I have questions about accessibility and/or would like to request accommodations for the event. Who should I reach out to?

The Undergraduate Symposium team is committed to ensuring the symposium is accessible and enjoyable for all participants and guests. If you have questions about accessibility or will require specific accommodations for the event, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at ugradsymposium@wisc.edu. We are more than happy to help!

Application Questions

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What will I need to complete the Undergraduate Symposium application?

To apply to present your project at the Undergraduate Symposium, you will need:

  • A project title
  • A project abstract or artist’s statement
  • A project mentor
  • A signed and complete mentor approval form
  • Your availability on the day of the symposium so you can select your preferred session time
  • Your choice of presentation format (poster, 5- or 10-minute presentation, art/project display, or film/performance)

Can I present more than one project at the Undergraduate Symposium?

Students are not allowed to present more than one individual project. You may, however, present twice if you are a part of a team (either with two teams or once with a team and once individually).

I would like to apply to present a project with my project team. Should we each submit an application?

No, only one project member should submit an application. The application will request all project members’ names, so individual applications are not necessary.

For example, if Jane, John, and Jo would like to present a project together, they should select one project member to submit the application. If they select Jane, Jane will fill out the application and list John and Jo as co-presenters.

We ask students to do this because applications are read as per project, not per student. If Jane, John, and Jo each submit an application for their group project, the Undergraduate Symposium team will assume that Jane, John, and Jo plan to present three projects together, which is not the case (and is also not permitted).

What is a co-presenter?

Groups can apply to present their projects at the Undergraduate Symposium, but they should submit only one application for their project. They should select one project member to submit an application. The project members who do not submit the application are co-presenters.

For example, if Jane, John, and Jo would like to present a project together, they should select one project member to submit the application. If they select Jane, Jane will fill out the application and list John and Jo as co-presenters.

What is a mentor? Does it matter which mentor I mark as my "primary mentor?"

A mentor is a UW–Madison professor, academic staff member, or graduate student who works with you on your project and will advise you as you design your poster or presentation.

Mentors are often professors, advisors for independent studies or theses, or PIs (principal investigators).

We generally recommend that you list mentors in supervisory order. So, if you are working on a research project with your PI and a research assistant, we encourage you to list your PI as the primary mentor and the research assistant as the secondary mentor.

Can I apply to present my research if it will not be complete by April?

Yes, you can. Students regularly present research that is still in progress. You do not need your final results to present your work.

Are there any resources that can help me write my project abstract or artist's statement?

Yes, we encourage you to use the Writing Center’s resource on writing abstracts or to book an appointment to work with Writing Center staff on your abstract.

If you have any questions as you are working on your project title and abstract/artist’s statement, please also feel free to reach out to the Undergraduate Symposium team. We are happy to assist you!

Preparation Questions

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Are there resources that can help me with designing my poster or presentation?

Yes, there are many resources to help with this. DesignLab and the Writing Center have some great resources (see buttons below), and the “Prepare” page of our website can also offer some helpful guidance.

The Writing Center’s Poster Creation Resource

DesignLab’s Poster Design Resource

DesignLab’s Presentation Resource

If you need further support or have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

What are some quick tips for designing my poster or presentation?

  1. Be sure to include your mentor’s name on your poster or presentation!
  2. Avoid overcrowding your poster or presentation materials.
  3. Keep 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.
    • Be concise, precise, and straightforward.
  4. Highlight 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.
    • Use visuals to distill and communicate your take-home message quickly and easily.
  5. Solicit feedback.
    • Show your poster or slides to friends.
    • Meet with your mentor to review your presentation.
    • Consult with a staff member at The Writing Center to explain your project, practice your presentation, and to hear, firsthand, what your listeners find particularly intriguing and relevant.
    • Make note of the kinds of questions you’re asked, and be ready to answer them.

Where should I print my poster? Are there size requirements?

Poster printing will be free through College Library to all symposium participants, but you are not required to print at College Library if you would prefer to print elsewhere.

All posters should be 43″ wide by 36″ high.

Are there any requirements for presentations?

Our only requirements for presentations are that they fit within the allotted time (5 or 10 minutes) and that your mentor’s name is included on any visual presentation materials you use. Otherwise, you have the freedom to design your presentation in whatever way best showcases your project!

When will the Undergraduate Symposium schedule be released?

The Undergraduate Symposium schedule will be released in late March or early April. Please keep an eye on your inbox for messages from the Undergraduate Symposium coordinator.

What if my research is ongoing?

Scholars often present their work before their projects are complete. Here some tips for doing so:

  • 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 and their significance is more important than the raw results themselves.
  • Develop a plan of action for talking about your project that best emphasizes its significance and interesting points. Some students choose to state their results and their significance first and then show how they arrived at those results in the body of the talk. Others focus their presentation or poster on their background and methods and spend less time talking about results and their significance. We encourage you to organize your presentation in whatever way best suits your project.

When is the latest possible time I can email the Undergraduate Symposium team?

Please contact the symposium planning team as early as possible to work through any issues. Symposium organizers are very busy the day before and day of the symposium and will not be available for last minute troubleshooting. To contact the team, email ugradsymposium@wisc.edu.

Presentation & Day-Of Questions

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When and where do I present?

Please check the symposium schedule (which will be released in late March or early April) to find your assigned session time and presentation room.

What time should I arrive at Union South?

Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your session time begins so you will have time to register and grab a program.

Where should I go when I arrive?

There will be registration tables outside of Varsity Hall. Please register before heading to your presentation room.

Can I invite my mentors, friends, and family?

Yes, absolutely! The Undergraduate Symposium is a celebration of your hard work and accomplishments, and any guests you’d like to invite are more than welcome to attend.

Is there a dress code?

Presenters are advised to dress professionally. Business casual attire is preferred.

Will presentations be timed?

Yes, presentations will be timed by your session moderator. We encourage you to practice your presentation and ensure it fits within time limits before presenting on the day of the symposium.

Can I leave before the end of my session?

No, presenters should not leave before their presentation session ends. If you have an obligation that will require you to leave early, please let the Undergraduate Symposium team know.

Should I attend other presentation sessions?

We strongly encourage you to attend other presentation sessions. Doing so will offer you the opportunity to learn about wide-ranging research and innovation from across campus and to network with other students and mentors.