This is the second part of a series of posts on Writing and Presenting Reports that are effective. Part One looked at preparing for the report. Part Two will give you tips on construction and style.
To get your report read and used, be sure to include the date and reason for the report. Formatting can vary between organisations, and between reports, depending on protocol, precedence and the reason for the report. But in general the sequence should be:
The title must indicate who is reporting and the subject. Follow this, if necessary, with an address, if the report is addressed to the specific person or group. The opening of the report gives the reason for the report - the terms of reference. It includes the problem to be investigated, who authorised the report, and the names of the person/people responsible for the report. The body covers details of the investigation, including timing; and the points discussed, a summary of the information obtained, opinions formed and the action taken or decisions made. Finally, the conclusion covers recommendations for action or results of action taken.
Reports should be in the third person.
Use a logical structure to present the information so it can be understood and have the required impact. Avoid long and complicated verbiage. Be as brief as you can while keeping accuracy and covering the necessary points. And be explicit, so that there is no opportunity for misunderstanding.
In the third part of this series, we look at presenting the report and finish with a list of do's and don'ts for reporting.
For tips and articles on Communication and public speaking, visit The Communication Edge blog: