I recently read that you have 8 seconds in any written communication to get your point across without potentially losing the attention of your reader. Eight seconds means a sentence or less! After reading this, I thought about the number of emails I read in a day and thought if everyone could get their point across in an email in 8 seconds how many hours I would get back in my day. This could truly be life changing. I recently saw this video clip which quickly summarizes many of the written communications (email and letters) I receive daily. Please take a few minutes to watch as it will add significant humor to your life!
One example of this type of communication is in the posters I read at many of the meetings we manage. While I don’t discount that every piece of information on the poster is important and impactful in your research, could there be less words for my aging eyes to focus on and more visuals to gain my attention and summarize the conclusions in your abstract? Being concise in presenting your science through a poster is necessary at our meeting since you are competing with a sea of other posters for the attention of attendees in a two-hour period, not to mention often with wine and cheese. I recently read this article from NPR regarding a movement in scientific poster creations. In any session, you truly do have 8 seconds or less to catch the attention of another scientist as they peruse posters. So, why not make your poster more like a billboard. Something that is one sentence or less, large, catchy and gets your research across in 8 seconds or less. Below is an example of such poster cited in the NPR piece.
Michigan State University doctoral student Mike Morrison has a redesign for scientific posters to spell out their main point in big, easy-to-read letters.
Courtesy of Mike Morrison
At our upcoming meetings, I will be on the watching for the new style. If you have a new ‘billboard poster,’ be prepared to get a high-five from me!