The Newer, Better Scientific Poster

The Newer, Better Scientific Poster

We can help you create the perfect poster for your next scientific conference.

There, front and center, is the main “finding” of this blog post. Forgetting facts and figures, text blocks and tech specs, that’s what you need to take away. It’s a bit like the popping subject line of a good email, or the “tell me about yourself” of a winning job interview. Except when a scientific poster is concerned, it could be the difference between discovery and discouragement.

At least that’s the argument from Mike Morrison, who made a video on a topic that’s gaining a lot of traction in the scientific community: a complete redesign of the typical scientific poster. One that significantly reduces the amount of content — fearless in the face of negative space — to highlight a key takeaway, in order to maximize a viewer’s engagement with the poster by not drowning their eyes in dense, busy information.

“Every field in science uses the same, old, wall-of-text poster design,” Morrison writes. “If we can improve the knowledge transfer efficiency of that design by even a little bit, it could have massive ripple effects on all of science.”

It’s a compelling argument, and one that we at CMW, as expert designers with years of experience in this specific field, are paying attention to. It’s yet to be seen whether or not this new design will accomplish its goal. We think there may be a happy medium between stark minimalism and crowded chaos. And either way, we want to help you if you think this is an idea worth trying for your or your client’s next conference.

Scientific posters are one of the niche, specialized services we provide because we know the particular style and requirements of the project. So as leaders in scientific poster design who have been evolving along with the industry for decades, we’re qualified to apply these daunting new ideas to the work we provide. We’re qualified to do it for you.

Although this concept is about poster design, it’s driven by content. If you have your research, your information, and a central message to drive, we do the rest. We want to get as much of your pertinent information into these posters as we can while streamlining and economizing its actual presentation to hopefully create this newer, better poster design.

We at CMW are excited by developments like this in a field; it’s an opportunity to grow, to improve, to experiment. We also know that you and your clients are always looking for innovative ways to do what you’ve always done. If this new poster design is something you want to try, come to us. To many, the alien idea may seem risky and intimidating. But if you know what you’re doing, taking a chance can be taking a step in a bold, rewarding new direction. We have the talent to do it right. 

Your knowledge is worth sharing; let’s share it the best we can.

Mike Morrison – Michigan State University Graduate School

15 Tips for Managing Event/Meeting Collateral Production

15 Tips for Managing Event/Meeting Collateral Production

Managing multiple materials for a meeting can be chaotic. We have years of experience helping clients manage all different types of meetings. So, instead of having to figure it all out for yourself, we’ve put together a few tips we’ve learned over the years.  The kinds of things that may seem obvious – but we know get overlooked – resulting in late projects, expensive re-work, and overall grumpiness. 

Delivery timing is so important:

  1. Start with a real deadline.  Tell everyone involved what it is!
  2. Find out how long it will take to ship the materials to the meeting. If you aren’t familiar with FedEx’s timeframes, click here to download our tip sheet 
  3. Determine when you would like the materials to arrive on-site.
  4. Remember to build in the shipping time to create a REAL drop-dead ship date. 

What to do:

  1. Prepare a shared guide that includes the types of materials needed for your meeting. Here is an example of one
  2. Partnering up with a shop to do the design, layout, and printing of your pieces can reduce the amount of time you spend managing the project (hint: that’s what we do :)) 
  3. Need a bio? Only have a CV? Check to see if your graphics provider can write you a short bio.
  4. Having a proofreader or QC person really helps ensure all the materials are laid out correctly. 

Nitty gritty:

  1. If you’re going to be downloading participant names from a registration site, be sure they are all correct before going to layout. It is easier to change the excel or CSV file rather than each individual piece where the name appears.
  2. After approval of the invite, have your designer put together templates of each type of material before layout — it’s better to make any design tweaks before all of the pieces are laid out. Some of those materials can include, Invite, Signage, Letterhead, Eblast, Name Badge, Tent Card, PPT Template, etc. 
  3. If an attendee’s name is changed or removed be sure to globally change/remove it on all pieces (i.e., Name Badge, Tent Card, Attendee List, Bio, etc.)

Other tidbits:

  1. Ask for an MS-Word version of the letterhead, name badge, and tent card in case you need to use them on-site for any last minute needs. 
  2. Make sure the name badges are printed and fulfilled in ABC order.
  3. Consider using black text on your name badges and tent cards in case you need to print on site and you only have a black and white printer available.
  4. A bleed design will usually be more expensive to produce than a non-bleed design – so, make sure you need it and take the cost into account. 

Click here to download the tip sheet

Speaker Program Challenges, Speaking Tips

On Your Mark, Get Set, Present (Well!)

Speaker Program Challenges, Speaking Tips
There are a few challenges that speakers face when executing speaker programs.

Some strategies that can be applied to anyone preparing for a speaking engagement include improving the educational value of the session you are holding as well as performing as an effective speaker.

Here are some general tips that you can apply to improve your performance in front of a crowd.

Engaging the audience is done best with your body language and communication. PowerPoint slides should be used minimally for emphasis of key information and diagrams, and should not be overly packed with information. Asking questions of the audience can inspire participation, even if those questions are rhetorical.

Regardless of how comfortable you are on a topic, practice really does make perfect. It is the only surefire way to be sure you have your timing and material down pat. There are all sorts of takes on how long a person should spend getting comfortable with a slide, but a good frame of reference is to be able to speak to each slide for one minute. What it takes to do that may be up to an hour of practice per slide. Don’t be discouraged. If you’re speaking on a topic that you may revisit and speak to multiple times, this effort will be well worth your while.

Keep in mind, there are minor things that you can avoid that will keep your presentation on track. Transitions between slides are important. Having clever verbiage to get you from slide to slide will put you in an excellent position to continue with your deck without fail. Be ready for the audience’s mood. Having a strong comfort with your material should allow you to shift according to your audience’s response. This is important, while your deck may work in all instances, the way you work with it may need to be flexible. The better you know your material, the easier it will be to shift with your audience’s response.

The up front effort with your preparation goes a long way. Practice in front of your peers when you feel ready to present. See how your content flows by testing it in front of people who understand your topic and work through the feedback.

Try these tips before giving your next presentation. Pulling off an engaging and effective presentation doesn’t have to be difficult – we’ve all seen a performance that missed the mark, but simple steps to prepare your script and iron out your material and slides make all the difference. Break a leg!

Scientific Poster Production – Communicating With Your Designer

Have you ever found yourself sending a poster to your designer and they come back with questions? You know – the kind of questions that seemed obvious to you but needed answering before the project can even begin – delaying the production of your poster!

Communicating ALL the necessary specs for poster production is essential to receiving the right product the first time.

We’ve found that there are a few consistent questions that need to be answered to produce your poster the right way the first time. Save time and streamline communication with your graphic designer by downloading the tool here and make your production communication faster, smoother and more satisfying!

Click here to download the Scientific Posters Specifications Sheet.

Keys to Success: Large Format Printing Tips

Hey — CMW back again; today we want to share with you another tip sheet! Now, you’ll probably notice that a recurring theme throughout our advice is effective communication. There’s one primary reason for this, which is that during our years of experience, we have found that great communication is integral to quality control — and quality is our top priority at CMW. One place where communication could not be more important? Printing.

High-quality printing is expensive — especially for large formats like scientific posters and banners. Sure, on the old office printer, you can change out a couple of ink cartridges and load new paper, but for a job this big, you need to get it right the first time. This means a creative team with a firm, thoroughly reviewed vision, and a print vendor who is on the exact same fabric or laminated page. Faulty communication and unclear requirements lead to time-consuming and costly do-overs. What if you need a banner for a weekend conference, you get it on Friday — the colors are muted and the finish is wrong. What now? These stressful problems can be solved, if you know the right questions and considerations.

The quality of your printed materials reflect the quality of your company — that’s why it means so much to us. ​If you oversee the development of scientific posters, banners or other large format printing pieces, use this Large Format Printing Tip Sheet to maximize communication with ​your creative and print vendors.

Keys to Success: CMW’s Quick Guide to Meeting Theme Design

Hi! CMW here again. We have another bit of wisdom we want to share with you. As you probably know, we have been working in the design/production space for life sciences for a long time, and it goes without saying that throughout that time we have seen our fair share of logos. In fact, everyone has – we take for granted just how many we see every single day, on our products, on storefronts, in emails, on social media. That’s why today’s sheet is a questionnaire to consider when building a meeting theme logo.

Every logo is different for a hundred different reasons: coloring, symbolism, text, dimensions. Logos appeal to different demographics; they’re displayed in different places; they exist along a spectrum of aesthetics and moods. And a meeting theme logo is for an even more specific audience, for a particular purpose. While a graphic designer and their expertise will handle the technicalities, you need to be able to communicate just what you’re looking for to them, and all of the considerations can be difficult to keep track of. You can run into missed details, miscommunication, and costly do-overs. Asking all the right questions solves these problems, saving you time and money.

Create something striking, memorable, and, most importantly –representative of you as a company and a brand. If you’re developing a meeting theme logo, download this Meeting Theme Logo Questionnaire that you should review with your graphic designer.

The Power of Powerful Partnerships

I was having trouble the other day with a product I was using, so I called customer service. And as the phone conversation continued, I realized I was talking to somebody who didn’t actually work for the company that I was calling. After I’d gotten my issue resolved and hung up, I really got to thinking about it – it seems like everything these days is outsourced.

And that makes sense, right? Why not let a specialist handle the things they specialize in, while you focus on your own strengths? Hey, it’s why I called customer service in the first place. Nobody’s writing their own accounting software or developing their own CRM platform from scratch anymore. And whether it’s printing pamphlets or mass production, businesses find that it’s fitting to just let somebody else focus on a task they really want to do.

And yet – in many cases – outsourcing leaves you and your company exposed to greater risk. Who are these guys?  Do they care? Are they actually with the company they say they are – or is this 3 generations removed from someone responsible?

One of the things that we’ve done here at CMW that has helped us excel over the last 20+ years is a relentless commitment to being a True Partner. That is – when someone outsources a project to us – we treat it as OUR project. And when we have occasion to bring in an expert – we look for the same attitude and PARTNERING PROCESSES.

Let me share some thoughts about why this works for us, in the hopes that if you read something that resonates with you, it might just be worth trying for your own business.

  1. Communication. Communication is a lot smoother when everyone is in the same physical space. But Zoom meetings, conference calls can work too. Yes, the ability to walk to the next cubicle, ask a question, and get a swift response in real time, is a welcome breeze. But better, more efficient, and more frequent communication is a question of commitment. In a nutshell, sometimes it’s just good to walk down the hall and get something fixed. But, the really great thing is to know WHO to call and to know that they WILL fix the problem. That’s true whether they’re sharing a fridge with you are in an office 100 miles away.
  2. Quality. Quality is a central theme of our company, and it’s something that we can focus on a lot easier with in-house hiring. If you have strict standards and attention to detail that you adhere to for quality control, being able to oversee projects firsthand lets you make sure that nothing falls by the wayside.
  3. Intellectual Property and Company Data. Intellectual property and company data are precious. Keeping confidential material confidential is much easier to do when you can keep a closer eye on it. But more importantly, it’s really about working with people who know and respect the importance of your IP.
  4. Rates. Shopping for the most economical specialist is time-consuming and risky. The lowest cost provider isn’t necessarily the most economical – OVERALL-way to go. Pick a partner you trust and work well with together, and your work will get done on time, to-spec and to the delight of YOUR clients.
  5. Star power. Star power? Yes. Say you find the perfect specialist, a true professional, who excels at what they do…but they’re outside your company. But those stars, and your close, lasting relationship with them, can still help make your company distinct.

The decision to outsource or pull from in-house is an incredibly important one, and, because of that, a very difficult one. There are pros and cons of each that you should examine given how your own company runs – your strengths and limitations, your values. But in an increasingly outsourced world, we at CMW have found that a Partnering Mindset is key when our clients trust us to get the job done. And we’re proud of that!

This is a Great Subject Line: Latest Email Marketing Trends

It’s nothing new that the world is pretty much fully digital.

That’s obvious everywhere you look. But that doesn’t mean it’s something to take for granted. One thing that we (and pretty much every business in the world these days) have found increasingly effective for us is leveraging email to communicate with our clients, prospects, and other interested parties. So I just wanted to reflect on five of the trends that we see going on in email marketing today. If you need to communicate with your clients, prospects, etc. – these can help you reach and engage with your audience in a way that gets results.

  1. Quality > Frequency. Hopefully (just like I’m hoping for this one!) your emails are worth reading. If they’re not, it doesn’t matter how often you’re churning them out. A really solid, informative read once a week sticks out more than a half-baked blurb every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, even if that feels like you’re reaching your audience more. Now, don’t be afraid of frequency if you really have something to say — but having something to say comes first. How do you monitor this? That scary little “opt-out” link. You shouldn’t take all opt-outs personally. A reader may no longer be interested not because you’re not interesting, but because things have changed for them. Or, maybe their inbox is just too cluttered — we’ve all been there. But opt-outs are still essential to monitor. Get too many and there may be something to improve on your end.
  2. Consistency: Frequency’s second cousin. So if you’ve got quality emails worth opening, hopefully people start opening them. That’s when consistency comes into play — if you gather a following, they should come to expect your posts on a reliable, consistent basis. If you have a Wednesday blog, post on Wednesday. Even if you’re unsure of the kind of following you have — post like you have a devoted one! Chances are it’ll help you get there.
  3. How much content? You’ve got some strong posts that you’re sending out every Wednesday at 9 AM that your followers know to expect. But one day, you’re drafting up a new email, and you find yourself having a lot more to talk about then you previously thought. You’re paragraphs and paragraphs deep. It’s all kind of related though, right? That’s up to you. It’s important, though, to examine every post and see if it’s worthy of 1 piece of content, or 2 or 3 pieces of content…what’s going to keep your audience engaged? In a fast-paced, mobile world, you don’t want to lose people with posts too dense and verbose, but you also want to say what you have to say. Be sure you’re breaking up your content in a way that remains dynamic and economical for a reader.
  4. Mobile-friendly design. Alright, perfect: you’ve got a high-quality post. You’re sending it out every Wednesday. It’s Part 1 of a 3-part arc that your readers can avidly follow. It’s in a clean, engaging, eye-catching email, with a photo or graphic, important links. Somebody on your email list is checking their email on their phone, they see it, open it up…and it’s white squares, chopped up text that’s too small to read, and files that didn’t load. Of course the one thing that does load, front and center among the mess, is your logo. People don’t check their emails when they get into work anymore, they check their emails on their phone on the bus to work. So you want to be prepared by having a design compatible with both a clicking mouse and a scrolling thumb.
  5. The final test. No matter how much time you spend mapping out your posts, tracking your followers, developing friendly design — the truth is, nobody can tell you what works better than who you’re actually selling to. That’s why an increasing number of companies are sending out A/B emails. Email A is flashy, colorful, funny. Maybe the subject line is “Help! We Couldn’t Think of a Subject Line!” Okay…I’ll leave the jokes to you. Email B is a couple paragraphs of texts, minimalist design, strictly professional. Email A goes to half of your email list, Email B goes to the other. You keep track of what gets the best response, and you design future marketing accordingly.

We see engaging with clients and customers effectively and consistently as key in growing your business, and paying attention to your email marketing is a huge part of that. In today’s world, email lists can reach an unparalleled number of eyes, and you need to make sure those eyes are hooked. Now can somebody help me come up with a subject line for when I send out this blog?

Find Your Tide Pool: Benefits of Specializing in an Industry

Have you ever stopped to kneel down and look at a tide pool at the beach? Crabs, starfish, snails. They’re very, very small, easy to step over – but each one is its own fascinating, beautiful world, full of creatures singularly adapted to live in that very niche ecosystem. Okay, I’m sorry – I’m not bringing up the beach to make you wish you were on vacation. I bring it up because of a bit of CMW history. Years ago, CMW focused on the work we did (slide presentations, event signage, graphic design, etc.) far more than who we were doing it for. But the truth is, each industry is its own ecosystem – its own beautiful tide pool; each one is nuanced with little details that you only discover if you really get to know it. Why take the time? Well, here are some of the rewards CMW has found in specializing.

  1. Those little details. Barnacles. As far as sea creatures go, they’re…not the most fun. Compared to a tide pool’s brightly-colored sea sponge, they’re dull wallpaper. As it turns out, there are over 1200 different species of barnacles. And did you know they have tiny hairs on their limbs? Did you even know they had limbs? One of CMW’s current services is scientific posters, and with scientific posters, knowing those hairy little details of the industry is essential. We were once laying out a poster and the client supplied to us the board dimensions. We made the poster smaller than the board. Our client questioned this and we assure them that this is our normal process. When the congress supplies the board size that isn’t necessarily the available space on the board. If the poster is larger than the available area the hanging of the poster becomes difficult and there will be tacks covering the content of the poster. We would have never known this had we not been well-versed in the industry, from making scientific posters like this one.
  2. You can’t be “general service.” The ocean is huge – I’m not making a breakthrough here. And while that does mean it’s full of possibilities, it also means – as anybody in Finding Nemo can tell you – that it’s very easy to get lost in. The idea of being a general service model can be appealing; there’s the potential of reaching more clients in more industries, and seeming more adaptable. But it also hinders you in creating a stronger, more unique, more personal brand. With that level of specificity, you don’t get lost in a sea of businesses with similar faces and you shed that vague label of “general service.”
  3. The industry can view you as the best. When a species spends its whole life in an ecosystem, it’s only natural that it grows to be the best at surviving in it. Turban snails draw into the shells and shut their doors to avoid drying out come low tide. Starfish have hundreds of suction cups to cling to the rocks when strong waves crash in. CMW? We invested in color-matching technology to ensure we can exact the splash of our client’s brand down to a science. It’s industry-specific quality control, and clients will take notice – hopefully spreading the word.
  4. Pricing. So, I’ll be honest – there’s not a great tide pool analogy for this one. Sea creatures don’t deal with money or even know what it is. That’d be the easy life, huh? But for us business humans, it’s important. When all these things are combined – your attention to detail, your unique services, and your excellent reputation within a specific industry, firmer pricing for expertise is almost guaranteed. You want a return on investment for the effort you’ve put into getting to know this industry inside and out – and you will get it.

As a business, you want a clear brand, you want a great reputation, and you want your client to see your work as the best that they can get. Specializing in an industry is a perfect way to achieve all of these. Get to know those crucial, product-saving details. Show clients you’re unique, and not only unique – but above the rest. And expect an excellent return on investment. Next time you’re at the beach (I know – I hope it’s soon, too!) take some time to really admire one of those beautiful little, living tide pools. Then, come back to the office and find your own.

The 1-10-100 Rule 101: How to Manage Quality

Picture this: it’s the night before a big conference one of your clients is hosting. They’ve requested eight different handouts. You’ve got them all printed out, shimmering with the perfect glossy finish your client requested, and have sent them off…and then your client tells you the printed domain address is wrong. Your stomach somersaults, and it should; not only will the reprints cost you, but the extra delivery will cost you. You’ll have to drive to deliver the reprints yourself by the morning. Not only will the reprints and the extra delivery cost you, but the overtime labor will cost you, and the supplies lost along the way will cost you. Now your employees have to pull an all-nighter correcting this mistake, and all the expensive material you used for the last erroneous batch? Wasted.

And not only will the reprints, extra delivery, overtime labor, and lost supplies cost and cost and cost and cost you…but this could have all been avoided in the first place. Because “quality is free”, as Phillip B. Crosby said in his seminal guide that (you can be honest) is gathering dust on a lot of business people’s bookshelves…and if “quality is free”, why isn’t there more of it? Here at CMW, where quality is consistently a top priority, we feel that nothing prevents costly quality correction better than understanding the 1-10-100 Rule.

$1 – The cost of catching and fixing problems in the work area.

$10 – The cost of catching and fixing problems after they’ve left the work area.

$100 – The cost of failing to catch, and fixing problems after they’ve already reached the client.

The further down the line a mistake like that incorrect domain address gets, the harder and more expensive it is to make right — it’s exponential. And that $100 isn’t just costly. It’s embarrassing, too. You can almost see Ben Franklin’s hand going to his forehead. It very well could be the difference between you maintaining a long, fruitful relationship with a great client, and losing them over one giant flub. So how do we at CMW avoid quality disasters and the loss of clients?

We train each of our employees in a very simple process. Here are the steps.

  1. Check. When a project is started in the work area, look over the specifications closely. Precisely. Don’t take anything for granted. If you need to ask a clarifying question to a client, do so — sooner rather than later. You both benefit from making sure you’re on the same page. Then, follow those specifications throughout the working process; continually revisit them and check yourself along the way.
  1. Double check. When whoever started the project hands it off to its next phase, make it what we call a firm hand-off. Have both parties’ eyes on both the product as it stands and the original specifications. The more eyes, the better (just think of it as having the same rules as a Halloween costume). Between stages is a great place to catch and fix mistakes before more work is done. Remember — each time it’s passed on, the damage of error increases exponentially. Don’t let it reach 100.
  1. Triple check. Once a project is done, check it against the original specifications…again. And again. It’s complete, for all intents and purposes, but it’s still in the working area — this is the least costly place to catch and fix errors. Only after a thorough examination is it ready to leave.

You can see how just these simple checks and balances is much easier — and much cheaper — than a full-on disaster. Make sure each of your employees is aware of the risks of error, and the prevention process. If there’s a larger group of people working on a single project, hold a group meeting; get them in a room together and make sure everyone is on the same page. Give them the old 1-10-100 101.

Quality is free! So let’s make more of it.

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