Remember, there are three components to your poster session:
All three components should complement one another, not repeat each other.
You: You should prepare a 1-2 minute lightning talk about your research. This should be a unique experience or insight you had about your research that adds depth of understanding to what the attendee can read on your poster. Carefully consider the audience for your poster session. Your talk should be in layman's language - don't assume that your audience will understand the jargon in your discipline. You should also prepare to answer questions about your research.
Poster: Your poster should be an outline of your research with interesting commentary about what you learned along the way. It should be a balance of visuals and text. Your poster is essentially a prop for your presentation.
Handout: Best practices for handouts - 1) Your handout should be double-sided. 2) The first side of the paper should include a picture of your poster (this can be in black and white or color). 3) The second side of the handout should include your literature review, cited references, further information about your topic and your contact information.
Three questions to ask yourself when designing a poster
Best reason to give a poster presentation - Talk about your research and learn to see your research through the lens of other experts and non-experts. You may surprise yourself by asking new questions!
A poster session or poster presentation is the presentation of research information by an individual or representatives of research teams at a congress or conference with an academic or professional focus. The work is usually peer reviewed. Poster sessions are particularly prominent at scientific conferences such as medical congresses.
Typically a separate room or area of a tradeshow floor is reserved for the poster session where researchers accompany a paper poster, illustrating their research methods and outcomes. Each research project is usually presented on a conference schedule for a period ranging from 10 minutes to several hours. Very large events may feature a few thousand poster presentations over a matter of a few days.
Presentations usually consist of affixing the research poster to a portable wall with the researcher in attendance answering questions posed by passing colleagues. The poster itself varies in size according to conference guidelines from 2x3 feet to 4x8 feet in dimensions.
See Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poster_session