Writing a report may look like a tall order, but if you follow the 7-step process below, you should be able to come up with a good report without sweating too badly (unless youre writing it in a room without a fan or airconditioning hehe..)
STEP 1 Study the terms of reference
Know the purpose, scope and audience. Having a clear understanding of the these will help you stay focused and will provide a clue to the kind of language that you need to use in your document.
STEP 2 Plan
Prepare a written plan by allocating time for key activities such as research, writing and reviews. Here’s where you create the framework of your report, which normally would have a title, summary, TOC, intro, methodology, findings, analysis, recommendation and appendices.
STEP 3 Research and analyse
List out all the topics on which you will need to collect information. Understand all the measurement and targets that you will use. Interpret data, identify trends, and make sense of all the information you have.
STEP 4 Write the first draft
Insert any illustration, diagram, charts and tables where necessary. Since generally reports need to be presented before anyone reads them, determine whether the report needs to be presented in slides (MS PPT) on top of the written report document. If yes, the first draft would be the slides. Focus on this first. Once this is reviewed and finalized, all you need to do when writing the document is just expand the analysis and recommendations.
STEP 5 Revise
Reports can take as many as 4 to 8 revisions. while revising, ask yourself these questions, for starters:
- does it serve the purpose?
- is the info accurate and sufficient?
- is your measurement logical and correct?
STEP 6 Package it
Make sure the report looks professional and impressive.
STEP 7 Present
Cover the key points and remember to use the language that fits the expectations of your audience.
ENJOY THE PROCESS!