Choosing the Best Presentation Format

You will come across many different types of sources in your life. In class, a lot of what you will study is written in books or texts. You may also listen to audio recordings or watch a visual presentation. In some instances, information is audiovisual, meaning the information uses both sight and sound. Written texts, audio and visual formats are all good ways to communicate information.

Written Formats

Resources in the written format include books, journal articles, or texts that require you to read for information. Written resources are good learning tools because they can include lots of details. In many cases, they also include images, maps, and charts that support the central idea.

Audio and Visual Formats

Audio sources include digital songs, podcasts, voice recordings, and other sound-based resources. Visual sources include slideshows, maps, pictures, paintings, etc. Videos are a great example of an audiovisual format.

Some audio and visual formats may require you to read text on a screen, but they mostly require you to listen and watch the information. Audiovisual formats are good tools for learning because they let you hear an explanation of information and see what people and places actually looked like.

Why Does Format Matter?

Listen to the clip below:

  • The way information is presented to you has a big impact, or effect, on how you understand and learn.
  • Audiovisual presentations should be organized and make sense when you listen and watch
  • Audiovisual presentations can help you understand new information by letting you see and hear what people and places looked and sounded like

Let’s examine a few examples. Below, we look at an audiovisual presentation, an article, and a video.

Audiovisual Presentation Example

Watch this video about Paleo Indians from As you watch the video, think about the way the information is presented to you. Ask:

  • How do the images help you better understand the information?
  • How does sound affect the information in the video?
  • What impact does the video have on you personally?

The video includes visual examples of the places where Paleo Indians would have migrated to and the types of animals they faced when surviving. This helps you to visualize, or imagine, what their environment would have been like thousands of years ago.

The video uses narration, or a person talking, to explain what’s happening. Meanwhile, music sets the mood for the video; the music is serious and includes other sounds like the wind and predators.

Written Format Example

Read the section “Abandoning the Pueblos” in the article Chaco Canyon from Annenberg Learner. As you read the article, think about the way the written format presents information to you. How is it organized? What kind of information does the article include?

Audiovisual Format Example

After reading the article about Chaco Canyon, watch this video on the Demise of the Anasazi from As you watch the video, think about the information the video presents. What images does the video show? What kind of audio, or sound, does the video include?

Comparing Written and Audio-Visual Formats

Now that you’ve reviewed resources in written and audiovisual format, take a moment to think about:

  • What were the differences?
  • What were the drawbacks of each format?
  • What were the benefits of each?

Listen to the clip below:

  • The article about Chaco Canyon (written format) had more information than the video
  • The video had less information than the article, but it included valuable images that showed the environment the Anasazi lived in
  • Music and narration in the video helped to set the tone of the video


Now that you have an understanding of the differences, advantages, and drawbacks for each format, it will be easier for you to decide what presentation format is best for you.

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