– Persuading Presence

Analyzing Effective Posters

This is an activity designed for the classroom, requiring the projection of poster images from the - Persuading Presence poster collection on to a screen. It is created for discussion and reflection and could be extended by any of the activities from “Search the Collection.”


7 - 10


1. To spark a discussion focusing on the effective poster’s ability to:

  • Catch the eye
  • Deliver factual information
  • Inspire connotative association

2. To allow a guided tour of the NAC Poster Collection

3. To encourage discussion and reflection about aesthetic choices from the point of view of the designer and the viewer.


Using Power Point (or a similar presentation software), run a slide show of selected posters from the Persuading Presence poster collection. Set timing so that students may see and think about each image.


1. Invite students to respond to each poster with a quick verbal comment, stating what component of the poster caught their attention: Colour? Mood? Text? Type? Shape? Image? Contrast?

2. Invite students to rate each poster’s overall impact on a scale of 1-10 (low to high). Discuss the personal reactions determining the ratings.

3. Display a poster and then remove it from view. Ask students to recall specific information delivered: artistic discipline, location, time, artist/production title.

4. Select and discuss five posters that are good examples of visual metaphor (connotative or emotional association).

5. What roles do colour, image, size and balance play in determining how we feel when we look at a poster? Have students make their own choices (if feasible) or pre-select a number for discussion.

Some examples:

  • Unity, mil neuf cent dix-huit (1918)
  • Beyond Batoche
  • The Killdeer
image:Unity, mil neuf cent dix-huit image:Beyond Batoche image:The Killdeer

6. Ask students to reflect verbally or in a journal their own reactions to images. Are they more drawn to colour, typeface, imagery, or factual information?

Useful vocabulary

Denotation – the literal meaning, the dictionary definition
Connotation – the associations or emotional responses triggered by a word or image