Let’s face it, in-person poster sessions are memorable: meeting people face to face, walking in a vibrant large physical space, glancing at posters, and starting random conversations that last longer than expected, sometimes with a drink at hand.
That being said, organizing a research poster session at an in-person or hybrid event can have its challenges. Nowadays, social distancing limits the physical interactions in front of the poster boards. For hybrid events, it's harder for those at home to participate with poster presenters on site. It can also be tedious to organize a successful poster session without the right tools.
Yet, research poster presentations are key as they allow the new generation of researchers to practice their communication skills, get feedback from their peers and meet new collaborators.
In this article, we outline some benefits of virtual poster sessions. We hope it will allow you to see them from a new perspective and help you decide whether or not to integrate them into your next event’s schedule. If you need to learn more on how to organize one, check out this article.
1. Increased Networking
Research posters help to create new connections between participants. These interactions are very meaningful for both sides and can open doors to new collaborations, consequently expanding the reach of the research and generating more publishing opportunities. Through virtual poster sessions, presenters can connect with even more attendees than they would simply by listening to oral presentations.
Besides providing researchers with a platform to host their presentations, Fourwaves also allows participants to connect before, during, and after the conference for instance using the Q&A features. This increases networking and discussion opportunities.
2. Enhanced Content
On the Fourwaves conference platform, research posters can include many content types: a full-screen research poster, figures, slides, supporting text, and a video. A variety of live and on-demand content helps presenters spark interest and adds value to the presentation.
A two-minute video will attract participants to the poster presentation. A zoomable poster and figures let participants explore the content easily to trigger questions for the presenter. During live scientific poster presentations, presenters & participants can share their screens to support their ideas and enrich the discussion. All of these possibilities aim to help researchers and participants to make the best out of the experience.
3. Broadened & Diversified Reach
Virtual poster presentations allow participants and researchers from different areas to connect on a research topic. In fact, they can reach presenters and participants who might have not been able to attend an in-person conference. This broadened reach and lower cost increase diversity in terms of demographics, origins, research topics and methodologies, languages, cultures, and opinions. This diversity will impact the quality of your event as it will bring more contrasting ideas and points of view.
Therefore, virtual poster sessions can have an impact on the conference’s outcomes both for the size and diversity of the audience as well as increase the quality of those exchanges.
4. Low Cost
Printing academic posters is expensive. Designing them digitally and presenting them online is a more cost-effective alternative for presenters. Moreover, presenters & participants will cut transportation, lodging, and food fees, making the event more accessible to all of those involved.
For organizers, renting another large physical room along with the poster boards is another cost that will be saved if the poster presentations are virtual.
By creating multiple sessions easily, either by topic or time zone, allows more flexibility as there are no physical constraints like rooms to book.
Also, by having the content available online before and after the event with pre-recorded videos, slides, and more, participants can browse through the content and interact at their own pace. For example, on Fourwaves, they can use the Q&A section to drop a question to break the ice before the live poster session starts.
Adding dozens of virtual research posters to your conference is easy because there isn’t any space limitation. Similarly, hundreds of participants can interact via video or live chat in front of the same poster. That would never have been possible at an in-person event!
In-person events have a larger carbon footprint than virtual ones. Hosting virtual poster presentations is one way for your event to contribute to a better planet! According to a recent study, “the increasing number and size of scientific meetings and conferences held in-person also contribute to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and thus to climate change, with negative implications for the research community and beyond”.
Virtual poster presentations are different from the in-person experience, but they have the ability to enrich the overall event experience in many ways. They provide networking opportunities and allow a more diverse, cost-effective, and eco-friendly event.
Choosing the right virtual poster presentation platform can greatly impact the attendee experience. Make sure to analyze, ponder and compare available features to make sure it doesn’t add but decreases the work required by organizers… Too often, we hear organizers complaining about poor experiences because of unreliable platforms or time-consuming ones. No organizer should spend a full day creating a hundred or more rooms for each poster session.