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Prepare, Write, Present Effective Reports

How to Prepare, Write and Present Effective Reports

Sep 25, 2012 - Posted to  Writing in General
For a report to be effective, you must present all the data and facts accurately. Moreover, you also need to converse with your readers in an acceptable and easily comprehensible manner. This article will help you with an insight into a systematic approach that is required to create an effective report, irrespective of the subject of your report. Given below are some important steps that will help you to produce a remarkable report:

Preparation and Planning

When it comes to reports, one cannot stress enough on the significance of planning. You must not commit the mistake of putting anything on paper before you overall plan is looking good to you, as if you do so, it will be like starting to build a wall without having laid the foundation. As a part of effective planning for your report, you must set achievable objectives, gauge the intellectual competency of your readers, gather relevant information, design a framework, test, amend and improve the designed framework. These steps or activities form the planning stage, and the time and effort you will put in these steps will make a huge difference to the efficacy of your report.

Setting a practicable objective

It is extremely important that you set and establish clear objectives, and this is possible only if you are absolutely confident and certain about the purpose of the report that you intend to produce. In the absence of well-defined objectives, you as a writer will not know what to write and how to write in your report. This is especially vital as only a set of well-defined objectives can help you determine on useful research material or information that can be included in the report, which inadvertently will help you pitch your report at the accurate level.

Gauging the intellectual competency of your reader base

The next vital step is to gauge and identify the intellectual competency of your reader base. For instance, if your report were meant for high school students, it would make very little sense to include complex, doctoral level data or information. You must take care to ensure that the style, structure, content and presentation matches the knowledge and expertise levels of your intended readers. You must also very cautiously include and address all the questions and concerns that your readers are likely to raise.

Gather relevant information and data

Depending on the nature of your report, you will either need to collect very little or a great deal of information. However, to determine on the right expanse of information, and hence you would require to indulge in a thorough brainstorming session, either alone or with people who are knowledgeable in the subject that you report deals with. It helps to begin at the core of your overall topic, and consequently break down information, as it helps you cover all the major points, and hence mind-mapping is the best way to determine on the right information. Mind mapping is an extremely efficient research tool as it not only facilitates easy linking of facts and important concepts, but its open-ended nature also helps the writing to easily add or delete a thought or information.

Preparing the basic structure or outline of your report

Once you have all the necessary information with you, the next step is to create a practicable outline or skeletal framework that will help you in a lucid organization and expression of the collected data and information. This step will also help you identify any gaps or discontinuities in the flow of ideas. As a report writer, you must pay special attention to the outline as it can help your report with a sturdy sense of perspective.
When you start working on your report's outline, try and begin with determining on a working title. The next step should be to work on the overall structure, i.e. to design a beginning, a body and an end. Ideally, the beginning of your report should include a title, foreword, preface, acknowledgements, contents page, abstract and introduction. In the same way the body or middle of your report should have the main body as well as any substructures that you intend to include in the body of your report. The end of your report should include the conclusion, recommendations, appendix, references, bibliography, glossary and index.

Test and revise the skeletal framework of your report

An effective framework is the foundation for an effective report. While working on the basic structure, you must cautiously ensure that your report includes not only the structure and the requisite content, but also specifies the relative connotations and correlation between the important facts and findings associated with the subject of your report.

Undertake your project

Once you have completed all the above steps, then you are ready to undertake your project. In this step, you should handle all the gathered information and date to bestow your basic structure with an actual form. In simper terms, this is the stage when you actually need to compile and put your thoughts and ideas on paper. Since you have the basic structure in place, you should cautiously include the necessary information under the apt headings or sections. Needless to mention that this stage is very crucial as this is the stage where you need to ensure that your planning is realized.

Make the Content of Your Report Look Good

Ensure that all the information is presented in a professional and aesthetically appealing manner, which simply means that all the figures, images, graphics and illustrations used by you in the report should be professional in presentation, and should be accurate as well. You can take the help of a professional graphic designer if you prefer; however, it is not actually required, especially as many of the inbuilt programs, software and tools in your computer can facilitate you to come up with some incredibly professional designs, graphics and presentations. You simply need to spend some time to get acquainted with these tools to create and produce an aesthetically appealing as well as interesting report.
Once again, it must be stressed here that planning is undoubtedly the most important aspect if you want to produce a report that guides and impresses your readers as you desire. If your planning is right, then you can produce a good report with minimal effort in the remaining steps.
By keeping the above points in mind, you are sure to produce reports that are not only high-impact and professional in presentation, but also influence the readers, as you desire.
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