Report-writing is a skill that many people tend to overlook. It is part of communication skills at work especially when many occasions require the presentation of facts and data effectively. Remembering some of the following points will help you in writing a good report without too much pain.
Know your audience and purpose
You need to address your reader by providing the relevant information required. It is no point writing a report, however long or well-researched, if it does not give the answers your reader wants. This is where you need to have clear objectives as to why you are writing the report and ensure that you deliver on that.
Write briefly to communicate your ideas
Consider using bullet points, charts and graphs to present your information. They can quickly and effectively present details to your reader. However, remember to label your diagrams and give suitable headings or sections or what you are presenting may not make sense to the reader.
Be objective and factual
You do not have to dazzle your reader with technical jargon or fanciful vocabulary. Instead, be objective, succinct, avoid emotions and most importantly, be factual.
Consider the undertones in each of the following sentences:
Subjective and emotive writing: “The factory staff are such slackers that they do not deserve their jobs.”
→ This sounds like there is anger and animosity between the writer and the factory staff.
Objective and unbiased writing: “The staff at the operational level who did not meet their goals were willing to negotiate and make changes.”
→ This sentence does not place any judgement on the staff and even suggests that they are keen to improve.
Allow facts to inform and persuade, not loaded words that may be partial to situations.
Ask for help
Unless the subject matter of the report is highly confidential, asking for help will make the task of producing a report less painful. You may want to consider asking a co-worker to review your draft and ask him/her for opinions: Is the writing clear? Are you able to identify two or three important points? (Note: These points have to be the same as yours or else it means that your report is not clear.)
Writing a good report can be challenging but by ensuring that you are clear about what it needs to convey, you should be able to produce a decent piece that will, hopefully, deliver your ideas and persuade your reader.