Options for presenting at a conference

When you want to participate in a conference, you usually need to respond to a call for papers of the conference. Depending on the number of submitted papers, the acceptation rate of the conference and the quality of the article, your proposal is either rejected, or you are accepted to give a (poster) presentation.

There are different formats for presenting your research at a conference;

  • Poster presentation: This is a separate component of many conferences. Poster presentations take place in special areas where several scholars can simultaneously present their research and data to those interested. Make sure that your poster is immediately clear and understandable; you don't want to waste your time explaining your poster.
  • Workshops/special sessions: These are small, specialized components of a conference. Often special sessions and workshops have their own organization; this means that you usually send your paper specifically to the workshop or special session and not to the conference. Workshops generally have their own proceedings (or none at all), but special sessions usually have full papers in the conference proceedings.
  • Oral presentation: This is a short presentation of the key points of your research, between ten and thirty minutes including comments and questions that follow your presentation. So keep to your most important points and avoid talking about experimental procedure and literature review.
  • Keynote speaker: These are the big names in the discipline. The keynote speakers are often announced on the promotional material for the seminar, and they also naturally get more time to speak than 'ordinary' presentations. In most cases they are not required to present a paper.


  • Check carefully ahead of time which presentation aids are available at the venue, and to what extent you want to use these.
  • Remember: presentation aids should support your presentation, not complicate or distract from it. Check shortly before your presentation that everything works.
  • Use the questions and comments you got in reaction to your presentation. Make note of them right away, because these can be very relevant for your further research or dissertation!