How to Write a Business Report with Skill and Ease
Dorothy Park once said, "I hate writing. I love having written." You might feel the same way, but unfortunately, you can't get one without doing the other.
The pressure is even higher if you're writing a business report. The deadline is tight, facts and figures need to be found and checked, and everything has to fit into a format that helps your reader understand complex information easily. And, decisions will be made based on this business report. It's enough to make you scratch your head wondering where to start. Here is the secret: focus on planning thoroughly before you start writing. In our report writing course, we emphasize that 50% of the work of a business report focuses on planning.
If you're not sure how to write a business report, follow these important steps and the process will be easier, faster, and more successful.
Organize Your Thoughts
Most business reports involve a combination of past developments, upcoming trends, and predictions and recommendations. But the information you present has to have a logical sequence that makes it easier for readers to follow.
A typical business report starts with a main theme, followed by a series of insights to support it, and ends with a conclusion. Many reports will also include an executive summary, a series of recommendations or next steps, and maybe a list of key takeaways and highlights. The best way to start your report is to outline or concept map how you want to present the information.
If you already know the theme, gather the facts that supports it and list it in order of importance, and tier supporting information. Or maybe you have the information you need, but don't know how to assemble it. In either case, people who know how to write a business report know that organization is the first step to writing.
Do Your Research
Business Writers who already have much knowledge or data are lucky - they've shortened their research time considerably. But, most writers are responsible for finding their own facts and analyzing them. In a business report, never start with an assumption. A business report needs to be based entirely upon the facts, findings and data - not a preconceived expectation or recommendation. Research always drives findings.
The more sources to choose from, the better. Company documents can provide information about corporate activities, while industry research is a great source for information on the trends and challenges expected to impact your company and its competitors. Online publications and other sources can provide insight on how certain world events will impact the business climate.
The more information you have, the easier it is to create a narrative for your business report. Don't forget to cite your sources; readers want to know where this important data came from and it lends credibility to your work.
Use Clear, Simple Language
Those who know how to write a business report know that the best explanation is a clear and simple one. Beginning writers tend to use jargon, long words, and complex sentences to make their point. In the end, their readers get bored, and their point gets lost. Your goal is to explain the business climate and opportunity, not win a poetry contest. Business writing is about presenting straightforward facts, so use straightforward language:
- Use simple words and phrases. If readers have to use a thesaurus to understand you, they won't keep reading.
- Avoid jargon from your company. Not everyone is an insider, but they still need to understand your concepts.
- Break up your text into smaller sentences and paragraphs. Frequent pauses keep readers interested.
- Use headers and subheaders to organize the text by main ideas. The outline or concept map you created in Step 1 is a good starting point.
It's okay if you don't yet know how to write a business report - everyone has to start somewhere. But before you start, take time to think about what you want to say and find a clear, organized way to say it. If business report writing is a job requirement, consider a business report writing course.
About the author
Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Rhode Island, an M.A. in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.