Ten slides in Ten Minutes - a Perspective on Business Report Writing
Ten Slides in Ten Minutes:
A Perspective on Business Report Writing
[Capturing the Hearts and Minds of Prospects & Clients]
Bill Graham APM.APMP
Tips for Effective Writing
Effective Writing Should:
• Focus on the Audience
• Anticipate the audience reaction
• Consider the applicability of the medium chosen to deliver the message
• Consider the tone of the message
• Have a clear purpose:
a) Identify the purpose of the message by asking:
Why am I writing?
• What do I hope to accomplish with my writing?
• The purpose of a message is usually:
a) To inform the receiver of the message
b) To persuade someone to your point of view
c) To promote relationships and acceptance
• Be economical
There are three phases to ANY formal writing:
Planning and organisation of thoughts
Production of the first draft
3. Revising /Editing
The first or even second revised version of a message is rarely satisfactory
Note: Phase 3 is sometimes split into two elements viz.
Consider the amount of time that you spend on each of the phases and the
number (and type) of people you involve in each of the phases.. Also, remember
that you need content before finalising the cosmetics and how you will display the
graphics [i.e. learn to play the guitar before selecting your stage outfit !!!]
The Writing Phases
Questions to ask about a message are:
1. How important is the message?
2. How much feedback is needed and how soon?
3. Do I need a permanent record?
4. How formal must the message be?
5. Availability of the medium?
6. What is my personal and/or professional relationship with the receiver?
7. Where do the receiver and the writer fit into the organisational structure?
8. What is the knowledge base of the receiver regarding the subject?
9. What are the sender and receiver's expectations?
10. So what? … Prove it…
Define a Problem Solving Process – and enforce it:
1. Identification of the problem: What’s the real issue & situation?
2. Identify alternative solutions: What’s the real practical alternatives? Who
else should be involved?
3. Select the most suitable option: What’s the best solution in the present
4. Stress-Test the chosen option: Undertake ‘what if’ scenarios
5. Implement the chosen solution: Ensure the solution is implemented
6. Continuous assessment (continuous improvement): Honestly re-assess the
implementation & modify if necessary
Develop Critical Thinking Skills
1. Be Concise
a) Regardless of type of document
b) Limit sentences to 20 words max.
2. Avoid unnecessary and repetitious words
a) Helps prevent redundancy
b) Overused words: to, that, who, which, the
3. Use active voice
a) Active Voice: The dog bit the boy
b) Passive Voice: The boy was bitten by the dog
4. Eliminate run-on sentences
a) Contain too many ideas and confuse the reader
Creating Effective Sentences
1. Topic sentences at the beginning of the paragraph
a) State what is to be covered
b) Indicates how the subject is to be discussed
2. Supporting sentences that support the topic sentences
a) Specific detail to clarify the rest of the information in the paragraph
3. Transitional words that make the paragraph coherent
Connects one thought to another to assist the train of thought
4. Some transitional words: and, but, or, however, in addition, therefore
Creating Effective Paragraphs
1. A business report is an impartial, objective, planned presentation of facts in
a written format. Reports can have far-reaching effects and it is therefore
important that they are well-written, reliable and easy to read.
2. The most distinguishing characteristics of a business report are its
organisation and its objectivity. The ‘typical’ standard business report uses
Western forms of content organisation. For example:
a) Title page
b) Executive summary
d) Body/ text
e) Recommendations & Conclusions
Reports tend to follow a standard structure but much depends on the
circumstances in which they are being written. It helps to ask your lecturers,
employers or mentors what they expect - there may be an accepted way of
writing a report appropriate to your course, employment or professional body.
Crafting a Report – The Process