By Vivienne Begg, Structured Writing Specialist, TP3
Do you find it takes you forever to write the reports you need to write? And do you find you’re not getting the results from your reports that you’d like?
One of the key reasons could be that you’re not spending enough time planning your report.
We all know that planning is a good idea, but we don’t always do it. Especially if you’re working to a tight deadline. It’s all too easy to put your fingers on the keyboard and just start typing.
But if you’re not clear about what it is you’re trying to achieve, you’ll probably waste time writing - and rewriting - your document.
Ensure your report has a specific goal
The first thing you should do is to consider why you’re writing and what outcome you’re trying to achieve.
By being clear about your goal, you can ensure that everything you go on to write is focused on achieving that outcome.
The time spent on planning will save you time as you write and then edit your document.
Write for your readers
Often too, as writers we get caught up in writing about the things we care about – what we know and what we’ve done. Our readers often care about very different things to us, or just aren’t interested in the level of detail we are.
So think about your reader before you start writing.
What’s their job role? How much do they already know about what you’re writing about? What do they care about? And once you’re clear about what your readers care about, ensure that you target those things in your report.
Use clear headings to map your content
If you find that you don’t get the results you want or expect from your report, it could be simply because you haven’t made it clear what it is you want your reader to do.
Or maybe it’s hard for them to find that information in your report.
So make sure that you clearly identify this information with a heading along the lines of ‘Action required’ or ‘Next steps’ or similar. And spell out what you need them to do. Make sure you include all the details they’ll need – the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘how’, and ‘why’.
Learn the foundations of good report writing
Do you need to write reports on a regular basis? Do you wish you could improve your skills? Let us help! Join one of our fun Report Writing courses in Sydney and Melbourne and we’ll have you creating exceedingly good reports in no time.