Normally, in scientific conferences, the technical presentations (with slides projector etc.) are considered better or at least more prestigious than poster sessions. The reason attributed for this is that the technical presentations are associated with more important papers or more developed research. Although, this may certainly be the case, I only recently realized how useful poster sessions can be. In the last conference I presented in, the technical presentations participants were also asked to make poster presentations. Initially, this was a nuisance for me as I had to make both presentation slides and also an A0 size poster.
Better chance for feedback
My perception of poster sessions changed radically after the conference. A technical talk has a question and answer time which is not more than five minutes. The questions are short and there is less chance for in-depth discussion. The poster presentations facilitate back and forth exchange of thoughts and clarifications. This dynamic and interactive aspect of poster presentations is their biggest advantage. People who may be hesitant to ask a question in a full room may come up to you and suggest interesting ideas. There is a chance to have detailed discussions.
Chance to learn more
Not only can one discuss one’s research in more detail with others but also get a better understanding other people’s papers. Although, this may not be approved by conference organizers, it is useful to sneak away and also visit other posters. This can enable one to immediately get a good understanding of papers which one may have read one month after. Interestingly, some long discussions can lead to immediate collaboration.