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Conference Preparation

Whether you are thinking about applying to a conference, getting ready to present at one, or have just returned, we have you covered! Read below to learn about how to prepare for each stage of presenting at a conference. The information is extensive. Some information may not apply to you (e.g. if you are not traveling for a conference, the travel information is not applicable). Use the information applicable to your situation to help you have the best and more successful conference experience!

Before Applying to a Conference

Research conferences

Before applying to conferences, research conferences. Below are a few recommendations on what to research.

  • Type of conference
    • Field specific conferences 
      • (e.g. American Sociology Association Annual Meeting, International Conference on Nanostructures) 
    • Undergraduate specific conferences 
      • (e.g. National Conference on Undergraduate Research)
    • Targeted populations
      • (e.g. Association for Women in Science, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science)
  • Does the conference accept undergraduate presenters?
  • Where is the conference?
  • What types of presentations are allowed (e.g. oral, poster, panel)?
  • Does the conference offer funding/scholarships to attend?
  • Does the conference allow abstracts to be excluded from the program (e.g. in cases of proprietary information)?

Talk to your mentors and peers about your interest in presenting at a conference. They can recommend conferences and answer your questions.

Questions to ask yourself

Below are a list of questions to consider asking yourself while researching and before applying to a conference.

  • What type of conference do I want to attend? 
    • Field specific
    • Undergraduate only 
    • Targeted populations
  • Do I want to do an oral presentation or a poster presentation?
  • How far am I willing/able to travel?
  • What time of the year am I willing/able to travel?

Costs to consider

The costs of conferences can vary greatly. Here is a extensive, but not exhaustive, list of costs to consider. Some of these may not apply to you and you may have additional costs not on this list. 

  • Conference registration fee
    • Note: Sometimes it can be cheaper to pay for both a membership + membership conference registration fee rather than paying for a non-membership conference registration fee. 
  • Travel
    • To/from conference city (i.e. plane, car, train)
    • To/from airport
    • To/from hotel
    • Around conference city
  • Poster
    • Printing
    • Tube
  • Lodging
  • Meals covered/uncovered
  • Technology (e.g. clicker)
  • Business-casual clothes
  • Business cards

Writing an Abstract (Applying to a Conference)

Before writing an abstract

  • Talk to your mentor/PI about your intentions.
    • Ask for guidance on how to write an abstract.
    • Ask them if there is any proprietary information in your research that you should not include in your abstract. 
      • *If your research includes proprietary information, you may be able to include it in the abstract but can request that it is not published in the conference program. 
  • Review the abstract guidelines carefully. While abstracts generally follow the same formula, each conference can have specific requirements with regards to word count, citations, etc. 

Writing an abstract

Abstracts generally follow a similar formula. Below is a 30 min presentation we made about writing an abstract for a conference presentation. In this video we break down some common requirements and analyze a few examples. Some fields and conferences have particular requirements or practices, so remember to review the guidelines set by the conference you are applying to.

Don't want to watch a video?  - Writing an Abstract for a Conference Presentation [PDF version of above video]

After writing and before submitting an abstract

  • Proof read for grammar, spelling, content, flow.
  • Have your mentor/PI proof read it and offer suggestions.
  • Double check that you have met the abstract guidelines.

Presentation Preparation

Oral presentations (e.g. PowerPoint)

Creating and giving your presentation. The following video explains strategies for creating and giving quality oral presentations. 


Don't want to watch a video?  - How to Present Your Research [PDF version of above video]


Poster presentations

Creating and presenting your poster

Printing your poster

  • If you are in an URH Program, then it may be possible to print your poster in our offices. Please contact at for more information.
  • If you are not in a URH Program or wish to print your poster on your own, you can pay to print your poster at printing stores such Triton Print and Digital Media on campus and FedEx Office and Print Centers

Storing your poster

  • To protect your poster, store it is a "poster tube". You can find poster tubes at many mail stores, office supply stores, and Amazon. Be sure to get one that fits the longest dimension of your poster.
  • If you participated in an URH program, we have poster tubes you can check out for your conference.

Before, During, and After Attending a Conference


Register for conference - You may have registered when you submitted your abstract; however, you may need to register and pay after your abstract is officially accepted. Don't forget to register!

Apply for conference travel funding - If you are traveling for your conference, seek out travel funding opportunities to help you support your conference participation. Please visit our Conference Travel Funding page for information about conference funding resources.

Make necessary travel plans

  • Transportation 
  • Hotel
  • Parking


  • We suggest packing and dressing in business casual attire. Try to avoid overly casual items like sweatshirts, hoodies, and tank tops, and try try to avoid items with overly bold prints, graphics, or logos that might be visually distracting. Be sure you are wearing wearing clothes and shoes that are comfortable.  You want to look professional but don't want to be adjusting your clothes during your presentation. 
    • Don't forget necessary/preferred accessories (shoes, tie, belts, etc.).
  • Business cards
  • Presentation (digital and physical copies)
  • Electronics
    • phone
    • tablet/laptop
    • chargers
  • Personal items

Conference Participation Preparation

  • Practice, practice, practice! Practice out loud and in front of people!
  • Prepare your elevator pitch so you are ready to discuss your research with everyone!
    • An elevator pitch is a brief (the time it takes to ride the elevator) explanation of your research. Focus on the key details and what will grab your listeners' attention.
  • Anticipate possible presentation questions: prepare list and answers for questions you may expect to receive after your presentation.
    • Remember that you don't have to know how to answer every question. It is ok to say "I don't know, but that is a great thing to consider for future steps in this research" or "That is a great question, but the current results are unable to answer it at this time."
  • Networking list: Consider who you want to meet (professors, graduate schools, recruiters, etc.)


Before your presentation

  • If you have time/ability, find the place you'll be presenting ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the space
  • Practice your presentation
  • Dress business casual. Try to avoid overly casual items like sweatshirts, hoodies, and tank tops, and try try to avoid items with overly bold prints, graphics, or logos that might be visually distracting. Be sure you are wearing wearing clothes and shoes that are comfortable.  You want to look professional but don't want to be adjusting your clothes during your presentation. 
  • Consider using social media to promote your presentation
  • Bring water to your presentation
  • Arrive early to your presentation

In general

  • Attend other sessions to learn and network
  • Network during social events


  • Update your CV/Resume to reflect the presentation
  • Update your LinkedIn to reflect the presentation
  • Follow-up with connections
  • Submit any documents/receipts necessary (e.g. receipts for refunds, reflection/pictures to those who funded you, etc.)