Hello! I am Grace Gronniger, a graduate student in the Applied Anthropology program. I recently attended the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Annual Conference this year in Washington D.C. along with fellow graduate student Sarah Reid. With some very helpful funding from the Sociology and Anthropology Department and the Graduate College, I was able to present a poster on XRF analysis of historic glass tableware. The poster is now in the department hallway next to the conference room bulletin boards. Below are four lessons I learned about poster presentations from my trip.
1. Printing your poster: You cannot present a poster without physically having a poster. It is possible to print your poster while at the conference, but be prepared for a steep price and DO NOT do it if you have a nervous disposition. The stress of waiting will ruin your time at the conference. If you do print while at the conference, do not use the printing office inside the hotel. Business centers inside hotels are VERY expensive. Instead take public transportation to the nearest 24hour printing office and give them at LEAST 24 hours to print. I took my poster in on a Thursday morning and picked it up the next day at 4:00 p.m.
2. Mounting your poster: The larger conferences usually have mounting boards for your poster, so do not feel the need to print it on foam core boards. Simple lamination works fine. However, check the conference website for instructions. The SHA website did not have instructions, but mounting boards and pushpins were provided. The Society for American Archaeology website specifically states that you have to provide your own materials for mounting your poster onto provided boards. The Missouri Archaeological Society conference I attended a few years ago did not provide mounting boards and we had to find wall space to display our posters.
3. Using a poster for networking: Contact information is key. For contact information, I found a piece of paper, wrote my e-mail on it, and tacked it next to my poster. In the future I will include it on my poster. Contact information via e-mail address or business card is important because interested parties want to know how to contact you.
4. Returning home with your poster: Posters are unwieldy and I was worried about how I would transport it back on the plane. Thankfully, a poster kept in a long plastic bag can be counted as your carry-on bag. TSA will ask you to see what it is and then jokingly ask you if it is a weapon (it is a suspiciously long skinny package), but once its status as a poster is revealed you can take it with you.
Sharing your research with a poster at SHA and other conferences is a wonderful way to discuss your research and similar research being done by others in your field. I had a surprising number of people talk to me about XRF and/or the analysis of historic glass. There were more people than I realized who are interested in the same topic as myself.