Presentations vs Written Reports: What is the difference?

Type of Information and Delivery of Information

A written report analyzes information, including summaries, analysis of data, research findings. A report can simply be read by the appropriate stakeholders within the allotted timeframe.

A written report is typically detailed and has a considerable amount of information on a given topic.

Presentations are used to persuade. What does this mean for you? If you want to persuade someone of your cause, then present them with facts and data that they can use to make their decision in a visually appealing way! 

By definition of the purpose of presentations, they are delivered orally in front of an audience. Instead of reading a heavily detailed written report, a presenter would make use of visuals and allow feedback from their listeners. In presentations, the audience can determine the content and structure of the information.

Unlike a report, a presentation usually isn't as extensive in detail, but rather it just highlights key points that are of interest to the audience.

A Presentation or a Written Report- Which one should I choose?

Presentations vs Written Reports: What's the Difference?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What if you need to analyze information instead of persuading someone though? Then you'll need a written report! 
  • How much time do I have to get the information across to the appropriate parties involved? If you need more than 30 minutes, a report may be the better option as the detail surrounding a report will take more time. For a shorter time frame, a presentation will work.
  • What will be most effective for the stakeholders? Would that group benefit more from written communication (a report) or oral communication (a presentation)?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you better at communicating orally or with written communication? 

After some reflection on the answers to those thought-provoking questions, you will know which option is best for your needs along with your listeners.

Do you need to write a report? Here are 10 tips to do so:

  • Write an introduction that provides a basic thesis of your argument. What are you attempting to prove or disprove? What will be the main factors that support this conclusion?
  • List out all possible sources for information- don't forget about books, magazines/periodicals, peer-reviewed articles...etc! What other forms can you collect data from too?
  • Start writing your report! This can be a daunting task, but it's important to remember that you don't have to do it all at once. Just start with the introduction and work your way down.
  • Include summaries of each source used in your research- this will help the reader understand where you got your information from quickly and easily.
  • Make sure to cite your sources using an accepted style guide (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian...etc). This will give credit where it is due and help prevent any accusations of plagiarism.
  • When analyzing data, use graphs and charts to display your findings in a clear and concise manner. This can be helpful for the reader when trying to understand complex information.
  • Use headings and subheadings to organize your thoughts and make the report easier to read. This will also help the reader see the main argument points at a glance.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! A well-written report is free of errors and easy to read.

Presentation tips:

What should you keep in mind when making a presentation? What are the best ways to make your information come across as clear and concise as possible?

  • Pick one type of presentation. There is no need to try too many different types- people will become confused with all this variety! What's an example of a common presentation style? PowerPoint slideshows are extremely common, especially in professional contexts.
  • Don't overload your presentation with text. This is not a research paper, it's a presentation! Use graphs, charts, and images to break up the information and make it easier on the eyes.
  • Make sure your fonts are easy to read- don't use anything too crazy or funky. Stick to something that is easy to read and will remind people of a professional setting.
  • Don't forget about your voice! What you say during the presentation may not be what ends up in your research paper, but it's important for engaging with an audience so keep that in mind!
  • Last but not least- practice makes perfect! What should I consider when practicing my presentation?
  1.  What are the main points I want to make?
  2.  What visuals will best support my argument?
  3. What kind of tone do I want to set for my presentation? Serious, fun...etc.?

By keeping these things in mind, you can practice and tweak your presentation until it's just perfect!

Write a report or deliver a presentation like an expert today!

Do you struggle with your writing skills? Do you have a topic for a presentation but struggle to create good content?

Try for 5 free days!

Jarvis can provide speechwriters with access to a vast library of articles, journals, and books that will help them gather information for their speeches. Speechwriters can use Jarvis’s natural language processing capabilities to analyze their speech data and find patterns and trends.

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For more resources to develop your public speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, please check out the article ‘Online Resources for Public Speaking‘. This article will provide a detailed review of online resources for public speaking


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Posted in  Presentation Tools and Topics   on  December 16, 2021 by  Dan W ,   Presentations vs Written Reports: What’s the Difference?

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