Effective Report Writing
Most people hate official reports don't they? Whether you have to write them or read them - most people would prefer not to. Own up!
Or, have I just made that up?
Answering my own questions as if I am not in a deluded minority, it has to be because professional reports are synonymous with being dull, tired and weary.
They could be dynamic documents that justify strategic business decisions and actions. Instead, they are often suffered in their current form as a necessary evil.
At Impact Factory we talk about the scientific concept of 'head stuff'. Nowhere is the 'head stuff' of communication more messy or confused than when it comes to the writing (or reading) of many professional reports.
Annual Report Writing
Let's take annual reports, for example.
Presumptuous about their readership - in as much as they presume that any sane (or busy) person has the time, energy or inclination to read all that detail, small print and technical jargon.
Usually thorough. Certainly involving lots of work in putting then togetherinvolving lots of people. Lots of readers? Definitely not. Just lots of detail.
Why? Because as careful and committed professionals, their authors are unsure about what to include in their reports (or indeed where to put it) so they throw everything in. Consequently, such reports are often bursting to the gunnels with the minutiae of every forensic detail, no stone is left unturned, no waffle spared - the result, reams and reams of paper.
And the reward, for all this toil?
90% of readers will just read the summary
So, back to their purpose and ours as report writers. Most of us would feel gratified if our reports were read and that they were understood - so that ultimately, where there are findings and recommendations, these can be assimilated, digested and acted upon.
Surely, before any would-be report writer puts pen to paper, it has to start here - remembering what the report is for in the first place.
How hard would it be to then approach the task differently? What would it be like to break the mould?
Imagine being commended for the clarity of your written communications. Congratulated for helping colleagues to make quick and informed decisions. Even more radically, imagine being thanked for your next professional business report. Scary.
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