5 Steps for Writing Better Business Reports
Writing a business report can be one of the most difficult writing tasks we face in the workplace. In fact, people often cringe at the mere thought of writing a “business report.” Granted, these are somewhat more complicated than business letters, but if approached in the right way, business report writing can be a straightforward and reasonably painless process.
If you’re looking to improve your business report writing quickly, follow these five simple steps.
5 Steps for Better Business Report Writing
1. Confirm Client Expectations
This step may sound simple, but clarifying client expectations is essential to any successful business report. When determining this, always think specifically in terms of the final deliverable (usually the final report). What issues must the report address? What direction or guidance does the business report give? Do you know the customer’s expected bottom line?
2. Determine What Type of Report the Client Requires
There are a number of different types of business reports. Although there is usually some overlap between the different types, there are also many important differences to keep in mind. For example, does the client want a:
- Business plan
- Business proposal
- Strategic plan
- Corporate information management plan
- Strategic business plan
- Marketing plan
- Financial plan
Possessing a clear understanding of the expectations of the report from the outset makes the entire business report writing process far simpler and straightforward.
3. Conduct Research
Once you know exactly what the client wants, and the specific type of report they are looking for, you stand ready to conduct your research. This stage may be as simple as collecting and reading a few background documents supplied by the client or it could involve developing questionnaires and conducting detailed interviews. You may find as you develop the report that you require additional research in order to continue.
The internet, of course, can simplify and shorten the research process, but don’t forget to always verify your sources. A business report delivers facts to the reader and the only way to validate your claims lies with thoroughly conducted research.
4. Building the Foundation of the Document
Drafting the Table of Contents (TOC), is the single most important element of developing a successful business report. This document can normally be done before, or in parallel with, the first phase of project information gathering. It represents a carefully thought out breakdown of exactly what you imagine the final report will look like and serves as an outline for you as you write.
Create a skeleton document first by entering the entire Table of Contents, heading by heading before you begin to write any of the text. At this point, the document is essentially a sequential series of headings and sub-headings with blank space between them. The TOC then becomes a step-by-step template for the rest of the process. You’re now ready to start filling in the blank spaces after each heading and sub-heading in the body of the document with text.
5. Write for Your Audience
A style of writing designed for a specific audience remains one of the hallmarks of a well-written business report regardless of the type of report required. Understanding who will eventually be reading these business reports should play a vital role in how it is you write them. Will these reports only be circulated internally or will they be sent out to people outside of your industry?
If your reports will be circulated externally, for example, it would be in your best interest to avoid industry jargon and overly complex terminology. Remember, the point of a business report is to deliver information clearly and concisely. Identify what “clear and concise” means for your readers and write to that effect.
Further Writing Improvements
Improving your business writing skills doesn’t need to stop here. In fact, if you enjoyed this blog post, we recommend you take a look through our Content SEO post to learn how to write better bIogs for your own business.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to write better business plans, be sure look through the extensive library of online learning courses found at KnowledgeCity. Sign up for a free trial today and start writing better business reports today.