Mastering the art of business communication relies significantly on your ability to make and distribute share-worthy reports for stakeholders, like investors, clients, and partners.
Your ability to convey information effectively with business reports can significantly impact your professional relationships and your company's success.
Like it or not, engaging reports for stakeholders can stream a flow of life into your business relationships while laconic dry ones will leave them to wither and die.
This blog post will teach you how to write a business report that resonates with your audience and leaves them wanting more.
Let's dive in!
Business reports are not just documents; they are powerful tools that can influence decisions, shape perceptions, and drive actions. They can help you gain the trust of your stakeholders, demonstrate your company's value, and pave the way for future opportunities.
Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have a vested interest in your business. They can be internal (employees, managers) or external (investors, partners, clients). Understanding their needs and expectations is crucial for effective communication.
Before you start writing, you need to have a clear understanding of why you're writing the reportת who you’re writing it for, and what measurable outcomes you expect from it all.
Here’s what you need to address before writing your business report:
Every report has a purpose. It could be to inform, persuade, or recommend. Identifying the purpose will guide your research, structure, and writing style.
Your report should have clear objectives. What do you want to achieve with this report? What actions do you want your stakeholders to take after reading it? Having clear objectives will keep your report focused and relevant.
What are the expected outcomes of your report? Do you want to secure more funding, gain approval for a project, or improve a business process? Defining the expected outcomes can help you tailor your report to meet your stakeholders' needs.
Knowing your audience is crucial for effective communication. You need to understand their needs, interests, and concerns to tailor your message effectively.
Profiling your stakeholders:
Who are your stakeholders? What are their roles, responsibilities, and interests? Profiling your stakeholders can help you understand their needs and expectations, allowing you to tailor your report to meet their needs.
Understanding stakeholder expectations:
What do your stakeholders expect from your report? Do they want detailed information, or do they prefer a high-level overview? Understanding their expectations can help you deliver a report that meets their needs and preferences.
Once you understand your purpose, audience, and expected outcomes, you can tailor your message to resonate with your stakeholders.
This involves adjusting your language, tone, and content to match your audience's needs and expectations.
Adjust language and tone:
The language and tone of your report should match your audience. If you're writing for a technical audience, use technical language. If you're writing for a non-technical audience, keep the jargon to a minimum. The tone should be professional, but not overly formal.
Make content relevant and engaging:
Your content should be relevant and engaging. Use examples, case studies, and anecdotes to make your points more relatable. Use visuals like charts and graphs to make complex data easier to understand.
Planning and research are the backbone of your report. They involve gathering and organizing information and creating an outline for your report.
The first step in writing a report is gathering information. This involves researching your topic, collecting data, and interviewing key people.
Critically, the quality of your report depends on the quality of your information, so be thorough in your research.
Once you've gathered your information, you need to organize it in a way that makes sense. This involves categorizing your information, identifying key points, and arranging them in a logical order. A well-organized report is easier to read and understand.
Creating an outline for your report can help you structure your thoughts and ensure that you cover all the necessary points.
Your outline should include an introduction, a body with several key points, and a conclusion. Each point should be supported by evidence.
Writing the report is where the magic happens. This is where you transform your research and ideas into a coherent, persuasive document.
Your introduction or executive summary should grab your readers' attention and give them a reason to keep reading.
It should provide a brief overview of the topic, state the purpose of the report, and outline what the reader can expect to learn.
The body of your report is where you present your findings. Each paragraph should focus on one key point and provide evidence to support it. Use headings and subheadings to make your report easy to navigate.
Your conclusion should summarize your findings and make recommendations. It should restate the purpose of the report, summarize the key points, and provide recommendations based on your findings.
Make your conclusion impactful by ending with a strong statement or call to action.
The language and tone of your report should be clear and professional. Avoid jargon and complex language. Keep your sentences short and simple. Use an active voice and maintain a positive tone.
Visual aids and data presentation can help you paint a picture with your report. They can make complex data easier to understand and make your report more engaging.
Charts and graphs can help you present complex data in a visually appealing way. They can highlight trends, compare data, and illustrate concepts.
But don’t overdo it, less is more. Don't overload your report with visuals. Use them sparingly and only when they add value.
Infographics can help you present information in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand way. They can combine text, graphics, and data to tell a story or explain a concept.
Use infographics to break up large blocks of text and make your report more engaging. But some companies get carried away with infographics and make the information harder to digest than it was before.
To make sure your infographic are supporting understanding rather than the opposite keep to a bare minimum of information.
Even better, create interactive infographics rather than static ones. For example, you can use Storydocs narrated infographics feature to break down complex information and lead the readers through the information while focusing on one small part at a time.
Interpreting data is an essential skill in report writing. You need to be able to make sense of the numbers and explain what they mean in a clear and concise way.
To make numerical information easier to understand you can use supporting text and annotations to explain what the user is seeing in a given graph, table, or number set.
Use your data to support your arguments and make your report more persuasive.
Review and revision are crucial steps in the report-writing process. They involve checking your report for errors, making sure it flows well, and ensuring that it meets the needs of your audience.
Proofreading is a crucial step in the report-writing process. It involves checking your report for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Don't rely solely on spell-check. Read your report aloud to catch any awkward sentences or phrases.
Editing involves checking your report for clarity and consistency. Make sure your arguments are clear and your points are consistent. Check for any inconsistencies in your data or arguments. Make sure your report flows well and is easy to read.
Getting feedback on your report can be incredibly helpful. A second pair of eyes can catch errors you might have missed and provide valuable insights. Ask a colleague or mentor to review your report and provide feedback.
The presentation of your report is the final touch. This involves formatting your report, adding any necessary visuals, and ensuring that it looks professional.
Formatting your report for readability is crucial. Use headings and subheadings to break up your text and make it easy to navigate.
Use bullet points and numbered lists to present information in a clear and concise way. Choose a font that is easy to read and use consistent formatting throughout your report.
Formatting your business report for interactivity is the second column of a great report presentation.
Since you will not be there in person to deliver the report to your audience, delivering interactive report content will act as your replacement by guiding the reader’s focus and communicating content in other ways than just text.
Interactive content like videos, calculators, tabs, scroll telling, and tooltips, can help shed light on part of your content that requires extra explanations and do so without drowning readers in text.
Some text can be converted to video
Messages for different stakeholders can be tucked into tabs so that each type of reader can read only what’s relevant to them
Live graphs can expose particular data points on demand
Narrated infographics can let readers go through complicated topics at their own pace
Isn’t it about time you replaced your static PowerPoint or PDF reports with engaging interactive modern reports?
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