Poster evolution

In the previous post, I described my experience at the ‘4th International Symposium on Acoustic Communication by Animals’. I presented a poster about individual variation of little owl territorial calls and about potential to use this variation for individual monitoring of little owl males.

featured 2
Schematic spectrogram of a little owl male territorial call.

Although oral presentations usually reach wider audience, I rather prefer posters over talks now. This is partly because I am not a natural born speaker and never learned properly how to give a talk in a way that it became a routine event to me. I tend to talk too much and I get more and more nervous with increasing age (once I hoped it will be the opposite).

Nevertheless, I also like posters because I like the combination of presenting data and making visually attractive item. I like the process of poster creation which is different and less fettered than in case of talks. I like how certain ideas emerge and disappear during the creation process. In this post, I do not intend to give any guidelines how to do a good poster. The information is online out there. For example, I like this youtube series about making academic posters. I think it is especially interesting to see different versions of the same poster – different designs, word reductions etc. Therefore, I would like to share the evolution of my poster.

The content was not a problem because I planned to use results from our recently published paper. So I could put more effort into playing around with graphic design. I knew I wanted to present individual variation in little owl calls and wanted the people experience that identify individuals is problematic in big groups by showing calls from many individuals at the same time and letting them assign a call to the right individual. I wanted a big figure of little owl to flagship the species. And I wanted to use QR codes to make the poster more interactive and to draw attention to the paper and related activities. This is the first version of the poster…

poster omaha 1-resized

In the second version, I included spectrograms for all 54 males in the study but I was not happy with the regular pattern of the spectrograms.

poster omaha 2 - resized

Then I got the feedback from Martin, the second author:’Just use the frequency modulation shapes and avoid the grids… And insert a big picture of little owl…’ Damn! How should I do that? Here is another try…

poster omaha 3 - resized

I felt the poster design was rubbish. The big photo did not look good so I started to experiment with schematic drawings of little owl (the owl eyes!) and I wondered how to organize 54 schematic call spectrograms so they make sense. The break came at the moment I changed the colour of spectrograms and started to arrange them around the owl drawing. Suddenly, I knew what I want to do and could not resist to this new idea. This is the final look of the poster. You can download the pdf version here.

poster omaha 5 - resized


Author: Pavel Linhart

Animal Behaviour / Acoustic communication researcher. Polonez Fellow at Adam Mickiewicz University

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