So My Abstract Was Accepted...Now What? 10 Tips For A Successful Clinical Vignette Poster Presentation

So my abstract was accepted...Now what? 10 Tips for a successful Clinical Vignette Poster Presentation
By: Niteesh Chitturu, MD; Mukti Patel, MD
Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO

A few months after you picked the perfect case, worked with a supportive mentor, defeated writer’s block, and officially clicked the “upload abstract” button, you are beyond excited when you get an email that says you have been invited to present your teachable moment at a conference! Now what?

Posters are popular presentation format for clinical vignettes. They communicate teaching points from your teachable moment. Most importantly, they create an informal opportunity for presenting and asking questions between the author and small audiences. Below is a: HOW to actually make the poster!
  1. Planning for a Poster
    1. Read the society/submission guidelines/requirements
    2. Create a Schedule and Set Deadlines
  2. Creating a Poster
    1. Follow a good example
    2. Keep it Clear, Clean, and Concise
    3. Show, Not Tell (Figures/Diagrams/Pictures > Words)
    4. Have an engaging/catchy title/hook
    5. Proofreading
  3. Final touches and Presenting the Poster
    1. Printing
    2. Practicing
    3. Presenting

1. Review Submission Details and Guidelines
It is essential that you thoroughly read the submission details and requirements for every competition you plan on submitting to, paying special attention to deadlines, character or figure limitations, and size/formatting requirements. Every competition has their own unique set of rules and failure to meet them can be grounds for disqualification. So, make sure to pay attention to that simple bullet point list so you get a chance to showcase your interesting findings!

2. Make a Schedule and Set Deadlines
Once you have reviewed the submission requirements of the conference you plan on submitting/applying to, the best way to keep yourself organized is to create your own list of things that need to be accomplished, while setting reasonable deadlines for each task. This way, not only will you meet the submission deadline, but you will also have the opportunity to go over your work with your mentor, making adjustments and improvements as needed.


3. Follow a Good Example
Beginning to write a case abstract or figuring out how to organize your poster may seem daunting at first, especially if it’s your first time, but finding a good example to use as a framework can make things a lot easier. Looking online at previous poster competition winners is a great way to get an idea on how to organize your poster with headings, what information to include in each section, and how to emphasize take-home points.

4. Keep it Clear, Clean, and Concise
Keeping it simple is key. The aim of your poster should be to present a few teaching points well. This is where it becomes crucial to only include information that is pertinent to the case and diagnosis being presented, rather than the complete hospital course. Tell the story of how you made the diagnosis by describing pertinent history and physical exam features. Include noteworthy labs and imaging findings that supplement your thought process. However, be careful not to write down every piece of data you obtained, if it did not specifically aid in the diagnosis.

5. Show, Not Tell
There is power in imagery, especially with clinical vignette posters. The viewer should be able to gather the message of your poster within 3-5 minutes, with the help of visuals to attract and inform. For example, you may display labs in figures or tables, rather than in paragraph form. The “Smart Art” feature on Microsoft Powerpoint offers many aesthetically appealing options for flowcharts and diagrams that can be used to organize data and teaching points, avoiding a “crowded poster” filled with text.

6. Catchy and Engaging Hook
The poster or abstract title is the first thing a reader will see, and therefore determine whether they will continue to read. It’s important to stand out from the crowd and draw attention! The best poster titles are ones that are memorable, humorous, and hint at the content of vignette without revealing details about the case or diagnosis. This is the fun part - be creative, use puns or catchy phrases, and get feedback from your mentor or peers to create a unique and memorable title!
7. Proofreading
Make sure to proofread your poster to avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes, as you will not be able to make any corrections after your final poster is printed. Get feedback from your mentor and peers early on to make your content as clear as possible.

8. Printing
When it comes to printing, makes sure you know the rules on poster size and dimensions (each organization may have different requirements). Find out if your academic institutions has graphics design services that can assist you with printing the exact dimensions required. Print your final poster at least a week beforehand so you have enough time to practice your oral presentation and to make any last-minute changes before the big day.

​​​​​​9. Practice Makes Perfect
A week leading up to conference day make sure you prepare and practice your presentation with the goal of being as engaging, confident, and succinct as you can be on conference day.  Practice multiple times to out loud to yourself and in front of your colleagues for feedback to improve your presentation. Try to focus on speaking slowly and clearly emphasizing key points of your case. Pay attention to and try to eliminate any “umms, or uhhs” from your speech. Try to think ahead and anticipate any questions that any poster visitors may ask you; usually this is limited to any pertinent literature or studies that you may have come across to support your case. Be familiar with every figure or table you include on your poster as you may be asked to elaborate on data or on the source of the material. Try to keep our presentation to about 10 minutes including time for questions. Many conferences may allow you to use index cards to reference during your presentation but try to avoid doing so as this will make for a more confident presentation. 

On presentation day make sure you arrive early to the conference venue. This will allow you to to familiarize yourself to where and when to set up your poster. It is easier to put up your poster when there are fewer people around. Most conferences have a pre-designated location where you can set up your poster. Be sure to come with some basic supplies such as tape, scissors, and push pins or tacks in case you need to make some extra adjustments during setup. During the allotted poster presentation period make sure you stand-by your poster so you don’t miss the judges as they make their way around. Additionally, be prepared to promote yourself! Consider printing business cards to hand to those visiting your poster. Conferences are the perfect opportunity to network and get to know other professionals in the field including program directors!

This is our creative approach to presenting clinical vignettes. As Dr. Das had mentioned, if you learned something from your patient, someone else may learn from your teachable moment, as well! We hope that you find our tips and tricks helpful in sharing your educational experiences with others!
Posted by Mukti Patel on Jan 29, 2020 4:42 PM America/New_York