Breaking the Mold of Academic Poster Fairs - Introducing The Morrison Method (@mikemorrison)

May 6, 2019
By Andrew Tomayer, Data Analyst, Children’s Healthcare Canada

The a traditional poster format.

The a traditional poster format.

The Attended Poster Fair provides a quick and extensive forum to share information on many different topics. The collaborative nature of the poster fair provides many researchers and professionals an opportunity to present to others in their field. This sharing of information can:

  • lead to new knowledge translation

  • develop and improve patient care

  • inspire a paradigm shift within the healthcare industry

Traditionally, there is one common style of poster presentations found at these events. However, anyone that has attended a poster fair at a conference knows this style can be overwhelming and overstimulating at times. The challenge with the quantity of information showcased at conferences, is that from hundreds of posters you may find and engage with only one or two relevant to your work.

The current practice risks having vital information missed by both the viewer and poster reviewer, which in turn leads to less new, potentially beneficial, knowledge that could improve one’s health centre or day-to-day practice.


How can we improve this experience? How do we make posters and the poster fair session better?

The Morrison method of poster formatting.

The Morrison method of poster formatting.

One suggestion comes from a recent viral video by Mike Morrison. He developed the “#betterposter trend on Twitter”, also known as the Morrison Method poster style seen on the left.

It is shocking at first – believe me, as a former graduate student I gasped at the initial sight of this – but upon further review it really strikes a chord, and many others also agree.

By highlighting a simple “punch line” in the centre, the viewer has the freedom to engage with the presenter, ask questions, or learn more through a QR code/Short URL.

This poster style gives more to the viewer, with less.

All the important information is there, it is eye-catching and, most notably, the knowledge is easily translated for future use.

While the traditional formatting is still the predominant style found at poster fairs, this newer style shakes things up and may make posters resonate more with the reviewer and attendee even after the fair ends.

Mike Morrison, the creator of this new poster format, has encouraged others to try out this style of poster at conferences across the globe. Based on testimonials shared across social media, some proof-of-concepts by researchers presenting in this style have already led to very positive reviews, even winning some poster fairs! (Link here)

Morrison recommended sticking to these two fundamentals when using this format:

  1. “The negative space around the middle “punch line” is the part that is the hardest for people to adapt to, but it is the most important part of the whole design…The name of the game is to help people walking by find signal in the noise.”

  2. “Adding a simple icon/image above your punch line can make posters so much more fun and memorable. Be creative…as long as you don’t break rule #1”

Children’s Healthcare Canada is always looking for creative and innovative ways to mobilize knowledge. If you try the “Morrison-style” poster, feel free to let us and Mike Morrison know how it went.  You can contact us both on Twitter at:
@ChildHealthCan & @mikemorrison

For more information on the Morrison Method, check out the viral video that began this trend: How to create a better research poster in less time (including templates)

Looking for a great opportunity to try out The Morrison Method?

The Call for Abstracts for the Children’s Healthcare Canada Poster Fair is NOW OPEN. Submissions will be accepted until June 16th, 2019.

Click here to learn more or submit your abstract!