How to Select Communication Media

In Brief...

The following tips will help you select the most appropriate communication media for a given situation.


When selecting communication media, the application for which the media will be used should be a strong influencing factor. For example:

  1. Teaching works well with interactive and heuristic systems.
  2. Broadcasts may be best delivered through short, fast systems.
  3. Some questions or private information are best delivered through secure systems.
  4. Brainstorming may need a system that allows many connections.

Consider the following variables when selecting media:

  1. Who is the recipient?
  2. Does he or she prefer to communicate verbally, visually, or audibly?
  3. Is he or she experienced with mediated communications?
  4. Are there one or many participants?
  5. What types of messages are being sent?
  6. Is the message short or long?
  7. Is the content private?
  8. Does the communication have a time constraint?
  9. What are the needs of the communication process?
  10. Is multimedia needed to facilitate understanding?
  11. Is the reliability and quality of the transmission important?

In most situations, the availability of media will be the most limiting factor in the selection process. The confidentiality of the message may limit the media selection further.

Author: Sheri Schmeckpeper

Sheri Schmeckpeper holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Financial Management and Computer Information Systems as well as a Master's degree in Adult Education and Distance Learning. She is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Trainer. Sheri has implemented distance learning programs at three top institutions of higher education, has been a guest speaker on radio, and has presented at local and national training workshops. Her diverse background includes technology, education, interpersonal relations, finance, and management. Sheri has developed and facilitated courses in the areas of instructional technology and online learning, faculty development, communications, finance, and professional development and achievement. She is currently co-founder of the Institute for Instructional Excellence and directs the Center for Excellent Living where she is also a life coach.