Benefits of having an iPad at a conference poster session

I recently gave a poster presentation at a conference, a first for me. Due to the organization of this event, the poster sessions actually ended up being the most effective interaction platform—oral presentations were cut down to 8 minutes, whereas I actually had several hours of conversation with interested parties.

I brought my iPad to the session (mostly in case I got bored) but had no idea it would be so useful.

Here are a few tips for using your iPad in a poster session:

  • Show related work or greater detail than went into your poster. People who specifically visit your poster typically have a niche interest within what you did, so be prepared to go deep on one particular aspect of your work. I could quickly produce the relevant supplemental figures in my thesis.
  • Be sure to sync your key papers/references via Dropbox to Goodreader before your trip in case you don’t have an Internet connection there. You should sync these papers already anyway.
  • Sketch out a figure using a drawing app during conversations. I really like Draft for this. Have your Cosmonaut stylus ready. Afterwards, you’ll have all these sketches in a single place. You can email a sketch to the person you just spoke with.
  • Photograph business cards and/or people’s faces.
  • Keep a running text file open in your favorite Dropbox-synced editor. Record key take-aways or ideas between conversations.
  • Download the conference program PDF and ditch the paper version. You don’t need the extra weight. In almost every case, I think you could get by with the iPad the only item in your bag. This version is searchable so you can look up the person you just spoke with.

I know most of these use-cases are obvious, but I hadn’t thought of them all in advance. If you have an iPad, it’s definitely worth carting it with you around the world to your poster session—although I’m sure you were going to bring it anyway.

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