PHY 445/515 Lab Presentations

At the conclusion of the semester you must either make an oral presentation (PHY 445/446) or a poster presentation (PHY 515/516) of the results of one of the labs you did. In writing up your lab reports, you were supposed to emulate the PRL or ApJ Letters style of paper writing; this are very different forms of presentation. Oral or poster presentations are commonly made at Physics or Astronomy meetings, where they are used to present results in progress, interesting results perhaps not yet paper-worthy, or even to summarize final results. Depending on the venue, these can be tailored to either a specialized or a broad audience. Oral and poster supplement, but do not replace, peer-reviewed papers (or lab reports).

The two forms of presentation, short talks and posters, each have advantages and disadvantages. One should be proficient in both forms.

The guidelines that follow are meant to be generally applicable. Some suggestions will seem absurd for this class because they are more appropriate to large meetings.

Disclaimer: The opinions presented herein are solely those of the author.

Oral Presentations

An oral presentation is more than just a talk. Scientists should not merely drone on from behind a lecturn. You need to show data. You need figures. You need to convey the excitement of discovery that is physics (or astronomy).

You will have a set amount of time, which generally includes about 5 minutes for questions. Usually the questions will be held until the end of your presentation, but you may be free to encourage questions, or a particularly boisterous audience may interrupt you. Ask the chairman of the session for guidance in advance.

When you give the talk:

Poster Presentations

A poster is a physical space, generally about 1m square, on which you present a visual record of your accomplishments. Standard posters are flat; the free-standing triptych-style which opens up, commonly seen at high school science fairs, is rare at scientific conferences, and may exceed the alloted space.

At scientific meetings posters remain up for a set time - generally either one day (as at AAS meetings), or for the full conference (as at many topical meetings).

Posters are a visually-oriented medium. Posters should be colorful and attractive, so as to attract attention to themselves. The following should be kept in mind:

If you plan to use the departmental poster printer, please read these Guidelines (a pdf file) first. All Phy 515 students are entitled to ONE and only one free poster.

A simple guide to how to use powerpoint to make a poster is given here

Last update: 11/20/06 by FMW