Writing Business Reports

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Information about Writing Business Reports

Published on February 6, 2009

Author: rajivbajaj

Source: authorstream.com

Slide 1: Basics of Report Writing A Presentation by Rajiv Bajaj Learning Objectives : Learning Objectives To understand: 1. Purpose of Reports 2. Steps in Writing a Report 3. Elements of Effective Reports 4. Use of Graphics in a Report Defining Reports : Defining Reports A Business Report is an orderly & objective communication of factual information that serves a business purpose The keywords are Orderly, Objective, Communication, Factual Information & Serves A Business Purpose Reports are vital to larger organisations – you will probably write them Types of Business Reports : Types of Business Reports Routine Reports : Monthly Report, Performance Report, Review Report, Sales Report, Press Report Research Reports, Survey Reports & Special Reports Enquiry Reports & Investigation Reports Confidential Reports Slide 5: Information Reports & Analytical Reports Technical Reports Directors’ Report Annual Reports Committee Reports Purpose of a Report : Purpose of a Report To have a clear understanding of why a report is written, a written purpose sentence is essential This purpose sentence could be written as either a statement or a question Examples : Examples To determine ways to improve employee morale. (statement) To design a new procedure for the company’s annual inventory. (statement) Should new computers be purchased to replaced the older models? (question) Should the office arrangement be open or modular? (question) Steps in Report Writing : Steps in Report Writing 1. Determine the Scope of the Report 2. Consider Your Audience 3. Gather Your Information 4. Analyze Your Information 5. Determine the Solution 6. Organize Your Report Determining the Report’s Scope : Determining the Report’s Scope Common fault of many reports - Making the scope of a report too general or too vague After choosing a subject, one of the first steps is to narrow the scope to a report length Scope is defined by determining the factors you will study Limit amount of information to the most needed and most important factors Slide 10: Example - Factors to be studied to determine ways to improve employee morale might include: Salaries / Fringe benefits / Work assignments / Work hours / Evaluation procedures There could be many other factors. Some may be important, and you may want to consider them later Slide 11: For any one report, however, a reasonable scope must be clearly defined by determining what factors will be included Consider the Audience : Consider the Audience Unlike letters / memos, reports usually have a far wider distribution Many people involved in a decision-making process may have a need to read the info in the report Make it easy for the reader. To make reading your report easier, think in terms of the reader Slide 13: Each audience has unique needs. Audience considerations include: Need (from your report) Education level Position in the organization Knowledge of your topic or area Responsibility to act Age Biases Preferences Attitudes Slide 14: Some false assumptions regarding audiences: 1. That the person who will first read or edit the report is the audience 2. Audience is a group of specialists in their field 3. Audience is familiar with the subject of the report 4. Audience has time to read the entire report Slide 15: 5. Audience has a strong interest in the subject of the report 6. Author will always be available to discuss the report Avoid false assumptions. Identify everyone who might read the report; Characterize readers according to professional training, position, personal traits - Determine how & when reader might use the report Slide 16: Kinds of audiences - Primary - People who have to act or make decisions on the basis of the report Secondary- People affected by whatever actions primary audiences would take in response to the report Immediate - People responsible for evaluating the report and getting it to the right people Slide 17: Additional questions to consider regarding your audience are: How much background will they need ? Do you need to define any terms you are using? What language level will be most appropriate for your readers ? Slide 18: How many and what kind of visual aids should you use ? What will they expect from your report ? Do they prefer finer details or merely a brief presentation that touches upon the highlights ? Gather Your Information : Gather Your Information Information you gather can be of two types - Secondary and Primary Secondary is information gathered and recorded by others Primary is information you gather and record yourself Slide 21: Do more research Think WHERE you can find your information May even require purchase of information Check with vendors and distributors for features and pricing information Slide 22: Check the library (books, magazines, journals, or newspapers) Search the internet using key words Create a way to manage information as you gather it Difficult to sort through if it is not organized Slide 23: Suggestion - place different pieces of information on note cards (with the source on that card) By separating pieces of information on cards, the information later can be "rearranged" and sorted when you are determining your plan of presentation Analyse your Information : Analyse your Information After gathering info, you need to analyze it The purpose of the analysis is to make sense, objectively, out of the information you have gathered Avoid personal bias of any kind entering into the analysis Slide 25: Information is compared and contrasted in an effort to try to find new ideas or the best ideas Separate facts and figures need to be interpreted by explaining what they mean--what significance they have Once all information is gathered, organised and analysed, you are ready to determine solutions Determine the Solution : Determine the Solution Based on your analysis, you will be ready to offer a solution/s to the problem Caution: The gathered information should be the basis for making this decision A tendency in business report writing is to "slant" information in the report to lead the reader to the decision that you may prefer, which amounts to a bias Slide 27: Include all pertinent information – good and bad. The credibility of the report (and yours as well) is at stake Make sure, however, that a solution is even requested in the first place. A solution may NOT be requested in the report. Your purpose would then be to present facts objectively. These facts would be used by someone else to determine the best solution Organise your Report : Organise your Report Before actually writing, organize your information into an outline form Formulate an outline by choosing the major & supporting ideas, developing details, and eliminating unnecessary ideas you've gathered. This outline becomes the basic "structure" of your report A report could be presented as a memo report, a standardized form report, or a formal report Slide 29: Your report will have following five steps: Provide identifying information Define the project or problem (purpose of the report) Give the background Give the supporting data Slide 30: State your conclusions and recommendations Create a "skeleton" outline – Jot down these five steps and fill in the info from your gathered material that would fall into each category Based on the outline you can NOW begin the actual writing of your report Slide 31: Write a rough draft Don’t proof-read or edit at this point. Just get your thoughts done Be systematic if you can--starting at the beginning and work your way through However, if you can find no logical approach, start anywhere - BUT START Slide 32: Write the opening paragraph/s or page/s at a later time Remember, don't think about editing when writing the first draft Editing proves a stumbling block in creativity for many writers Write first. Then come back and edit Otherwise, you are working against the creative process Slide 33: Use headings for each of section of your report Headings & sub-headings are used as organizational tools in writing to identify major parts of a report They serve as guideposts for a reader, dividing the information into segments that make it easy for a reader to understand Structuring the Report : Structuring the Report Following aspects need particular attention : Outlining and report organisation Length of the Report Formal Report Sequence of presentation Annexures Sub-Committee Report Dissenting Notes, if any Suggested Format : Suggested Format Table of Contents Executive Summary Background of the study Scope and objectives of the study Composition of the committee Study Methodology Findings & observations Recommendations Acknowledgements Annexures Writing Style - Dos : Writing Style - Dos Use an Impersonal Style Use Active Sentences Use Appropriate Headings Use Proper tenses Use Accurate nouns & pronouns Define all concepts Tabulate all Data Proper Documentation Maintain Objectivity Reflect your Erudition (knowledge acquired by study, research) Writing Style – Don’ts : Writing Style – Don’ts Avoid Excessive Jargon Avoid Verbosity & Involved Writing Avoid Personal Bias Avoid Factual Inaccuracies Avoid Grammatical Blunders Avoid Absence of Reasoning Avoid Absence of Sequencing & References Graphics in Business Reports : Graphics in Business Reports Consider including pictures or graphics in the report Why use graphics ? What types of graphics could I use ? How do I relate the graphic to the written text Slide 39: Why use graphics ? Not mandatory However, your goal in a business report is to convey information clearly to the reader A graphic can often be clearer than text Slide 40: A graphic does the following: Presents message in an economical manner using less space than would be needed to provide the same information in the text Saves your reader’s time Focuses the reader’s attention on specific information Slide 41: Adds interest Shows relationships Presents facts and figures in a condensed manner Slide 42: What types of graphics could you use ? Depends upon type of information you want to present Example, to show sales broken down by categories, a pie chart will be effective Slide 43: To show sales trend for the past six months, a line or bar graphic would be more effective Some of the more common graphics that you might want to consider would include: Tables / Pie Charts / Line Charts / Bar Charts / Organisational Charts / Others (pictograms, maps, photographs, time lines, flow charts, etc) Slide 44: How do I relate the graphics to the written text? Remember- graphics are PART of the report, not a supplement Work the graphic into the flow of your text Place graphic within the text, immediately after the paragraph in which the graphic is first mentioned Slide 45: Refer to each graphic by its figure number Interpret the information found in the graphic within the text material Textual material should not merely repeat what can be seen in the graph or table Slide 46: Questions ? T H A N K Y O U

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