If you are a manager you are likely to have to produce reports from time to time. This might be a report on performance of your function, division, team or project. Alternatively it might be a case for resources. So what questions do you need to ask when it comes to preparing a report?
Question 1: Why am I writing the report?
Seems like an obvious question but one that is often overlooked. Is you report to inform, provide evidence, get a decision, influence others or something else? Always start by being clear on the purpose of the report.
Question 2: What does the recipient want to know?
Step into the shoes of those who are receiving the report. Ask yourself, if I was sitting in their seat, what would I want to know? Write down all of the possibilities until you cannot think of any more and then make sure your report answers them.
Question 3: What’s the best way of presenting the report?
Is it best to have a written report, several pages long with an Executive Summary at the start or is it better to have a simple dashboard? It will depend on the circumstances and the easiest way of finding out is to simply ask those receiving the report what they would prefer and then provide it.
Bottom Line – Reports are often produced with little thought about the purpose or the audience. You can easily avoid this trap by asking and answering these 3 simple questions.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.