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The Experience of presenting at the ERS, London, 2016

ACPRC Publications Co-chair, Emma Chaplin, share her experience of presenting a poster at ERS London 2016.

The Experience of presenting at the ERS, London, 2016.

The deadline for submitting an abstract seems to always come round rather quickly. The opportunity of presenting your work is exciting and even more so for ERS this year, because it was here in London. When submitting an abstract in February, not knowing if it’s been accepted or not, September seems a long way away, so I put it to the back of mind.

Then I got the email to say I was successful. I don’t read the email properly, just quickly scan over it , because all I want to know is; is it a poster presentation or have I got to do an oral presentation? With a slight sigh of relief it’s a poster discussion. However, having never done one, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Doing the actual poster was the easy bit; having to summarise everything you wanted to get across about your research to the audience in possibly 1 minute and make an impact was the hard part.

In preparation for the conference, I presented my poster to my colleagues in journal club, which gave me a flavour of some of the questions that I might get asked and also any amendments that were needed. Panic set in when one colleague suggested error bars were needed on my graphs as this meant running the stats again to rework the graphs, the day before it needed to be uploaded to the ERS! The printers also stated they didn’t think they could get the poster printed by the following week… could anything else go wrong? The day before I was meant to collect my poster, I received a phone call to say the poster had to be printed slightly smaller due to the quality of some of the images. I needn’t have worried; when my poster arrived my colleagues and I opened it up and hysterics set in as it appeared to be massive. I now had the worry that my poster was actually too big to fit on the display rather than too small.

Having never been to the ERS, I was apprehensive about both attending one of the largest respiratory conferences and also presenting. When talking to my colleagues about previous poster discussions that they had attended, there was a variety of scenarios. So my first job when I arrived was to find out the format of how a poster discussion session ran at this conference. I sat in the poster session before mine. Standing by your poster and answering questions in an informal, friendly environment didn’t seem too daunting. When I sat down for the discussion part, and individual authors were coming up to the microphone to present a quick synopsis of their work, the thoughts in my mind were “they’ve not got any cue cards” and “ I don’t think my poster’s going to fit on the display”. I tried to go through what I had prepared in my head, and was willing all my notes that were in my bag to flood into my memory.

The time came for my session, “Best abstracts in physical activity and telemedicine” which I really enjoyed. I had lots of interest in my research which looked at the feasibility findings of an interactive web based PR rehabilitation programme and nearly missed my slot to present my findings as I was in deep discussion about the practical implications of my research into the clinical service. Being first up, it was good to get my discussion done. The adrenaline kicked in, which meant I probably talked for too long, but the chairs of the session didn’t stop me! The questions were straight forward although thinking back the next day, I couldn’t remember what I’d said or been asked. However, feedback from my ACPRC colleague (who I didn’t know was in the audience!) was that people were interested and I was able to convey the findings of the study.

I found presenting an all-round enjoyable experience and worth the stress that went with it. And yes, the poster fitted perfectly!