Why Write Better Business Reports?
Each time you write a business report, you have an opportunity to make an impression, a positive one that is, on someone. This may be your boss or bosses, colleagues, customers or someone whose opinion of you may have direct or indirect consequences for you. Being in a position to write the report or being requested to do so is a definite advantage though many think otherwise. Be thankful for the opportunity, appreciate it, do the job but make sure you do it well. Does it only apply to the reports that are for the eyes of your superiors? No, it applies to all reports. Even the short, informal reports. You will never know where or with whom it may end up. So treat all business reports as important more so because the business environment is a competitive dollars and cents environment.
Start By Questioning Yourself.
- Why am writing the report? What is the main objective? This will help you determine the most appropriate writing style.
- What do I wish to convey or communicate? Is it information, data, opinion? What else?
- Who is the reader? Who is my target audience? What do they know? What would they want to know? How much details must I provide? Would time be a constraint? How best can I connect with them?
- What would be the desired outcome? Share information? Influence someone? Provide the facts? Call for action?
- How or where can I get the required inputs? Who can help me with the report? How much time do I have?
A business report essentially consists of some information that needs to be conveyed to a certain party. It is important to note that in our current environment, information is regarded as a commodity. In this context therefore, we have to ensure that the information is reliable and convey it by writing the report in a well organised, clear and easy to understand manner. Adequate research is the key and this would depend on the nature of the report in terms of importance, urgency, length and so on. Research could be in the form of observations, reference to the relevant files, using the information resource center, discussions, interview, questionnaires, books, articles and other printed material. In organising the document, the layout must be logical, practical and easy to refer and cross-refer. It may be arranged chronologically, alphabetically, by subject or sequence. Whatever approach that is used, the report must be organised systematically. Check and re-check spelling and grammar. It has been recommended that the business report be written in an active rather than a passive voice. Rather than writing “this report should be read by all managers", write “all mangers should read this report". Essentially, using the active voice helps you keep your sentences short and crispy.
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