How to host a virtual poster session

Thursday, August 20, 2020 Tips and Tricks

Matthieu Chartier, Ph. D.
Matthieu Chartier, Ph. D.

Cofounder @ Fourwaves

How to host a virtual poster session
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At the moment, the future of events seems to be mostly hybrid or virtual. This leads a lot of event organizers to wonder how to host a virtual poster session.

To host a virtual poster session, you need a platform to collect posters and presenter information. You also need a video conversation room for each poster on the day of the event. An asynchronous discussion thread on each poster can help participants break the ice before the event and stay in touch after.

We all miss attending in-person conferences: meeting presenters from other countries while drinking a lot of coffee, talking about the latest published papers with our peers, and of course, presenting our own research poster face-to-face (sometimes with a beer or a glass of wine at hand)!

Since the pandemic started things have changed. It's not as easy as it used to be for event organizers to plan their conference. Even at the dawn of 2022, it is still unsure when we'll be able to fully get back together at physical conferences without uncertainty looming over our heads.

How can I organize my virtual poster session?

With Fourwaves, you're in good hands. The robust platform was originally founded by former Ph.D. students in bioinformatics and structural biology that have extensive experience both in organizing and attending small and large research conferences.

The functionalities built within the platform by the engineering team provide you with an efficient platform to get things done:

  • Publish a professional event website to share information to your participants about the virtual poster session.
  • Collect abstract submissions including the poster upload. You can also manage peer reviews of these submissions.
  • Manage the event registration.
  • Send emails to attendees to inform them of important event details and send acceptance notifications.
  • Publish your posters online ahead of the virtual event in a beautiful poster hall with thumbnails.
  • And finally, allow conference attendees to engage in live face-to-face video conversations in front of virtual posters!

1. Create your event

Get started by creating your event. Enter the event information and you'll be redirected to your event dashboard. You can update all the information at any time.

Step 1 - Create your event on Fourwaves

2. Configure the poster submission form

Through the organizer panel, go through the different sections to customize your event:

  • You can edit the event dates, customize the website's address, time zone, and location (for hybrid events).
  • You can edit the banner and the colors.
  • You can invite other organizers to help you.

You can also go through the event website section to edit the pages like the home page or the registration form. No programming skills are required. Not Wordpress site to set up!

Once the site is ready, share it on social media and internally with your community so conference attendees can save the date and register.

Through the organizer panel, go through the different sections to customize your event.

3. Collect abstracts and posters

Customize your poster submission form. On Fourwaves this form comes standard with the common questions: title, authors, abstract, but you can add other fields:

  • Poster file: participants can submit their poster in an image format. Each can be up to 30Mb which is plenty for high resolution posters. Rather than a poster PDF, we accept the image format which allows conference attendees to zoom in and out easily on the poster.
  • Slides: a Powerpoint presentation with a few slides that present the key results. You can even insert audio in them. Some event organizers provide a template to their participant with an official conference heading.
  • Figures: participants can upload multiple figures, each with a title and a description. This is useful to highlight key results or graphs.
  • Other custom fields of any type: text answer or multiple choice questions.

Step 3 - Collect abstract/poster submissions

4. Define when the live conversations happen

Through the schedule page, you can define when the online poster session will occur. That is, when conference attendees will be able to have live group video discussions.

You can create multiple sessions over multiple days. For example you could decide to group posters by topic.

Make sure to consider the different time zones of your participants.

5. Enjoy the poster presentations and talk with presenters!

The day of the event, participants will be able to browse the poster showcase that display a thumbnail for each poster. They can search by keyword, filter by topics and explore the content: poster, figures and browse the attached PowerPoint.

There is a section for asynchronous discussions where participants can leave questions and where presenters can answer them.

They can also join, with a click of a button the group video conversation in front of each poster! There can be up to 8 participants in the video call and up to 350 others can join in listen mode. The latter can interact via the live chat to ask a question and when one of the video participant leaves, one listener can join.

During that call, participants and presenters can share their screen to do a more formal presentation, go through the research poster or the Powerpoint.

Don't underestimate the value of poster presentations at your virtual or hybrid event

When we decided to build virtual tools on Fourwaves for scientific conferences, we realized after talking to a lot of organizers and participants that ways for participants to engage through live interactions was missing at most events.

For online poster sessions specifically, watching pre-recorded presentations does an ok job at communicating the latest research and is better than simple poster pdf uploads on a website.

Some events livestream poster presentations through Zoom during a dedicated session, which allows many students to present. Although having too many one-to-all presentations on the program can lead to disengagement from your participants.

In the end, nothing replaces live group conversations with other presenters, because these interactive conversations are more personal and memorable. They allow participants to:

  • Present their work and practice their communication skills.
  • Have a more productive conversation where ideas can flow and emerge more easily.
  • Get insightful feedback from their peers in real-time to help advance their research projects.
  • Network and find new collaborators.
  • Have relevant presentation experience on their scientific curriculum.

Presenters discussing around a poster

Advantages of Fourwaves for virtual poster sessions

There are many advantages to using Fourwaves for your event:

  • Organizers save tremendous time with a fully integrated abstract and poster submission functionality.
  • Poster discussion rooms are created automatically and no need to use Zoom.
  • Presenters don't need to wait alone in front of their posters. They can go talk to others and when someone calls them they get a notification to join the conversation at their poster.
  • The content stays up as long as you want after the event and participants can keep the conversation going and stay in touch.

Try it for free today! Book a demo today.

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