To write a good business or government report, you need storytelling and analysis in equal doses. Here’s how to harness the natural talents of your workforce.
As an organisation, you write a report to achieve an outcome. It must ultimately persuade the reader to do something – take a recommended action, rethink an attitude, or simply engage with you.
So it’s essential that you harness all the possible skills that can be found in a writer, starting with storytelling, and continuing through to developing the tone, analysis and finesse of the writing.
Perhaps your organisation employs one or more fine individuals who possess all of these skills. Maybe you personally have several of these talents yourself, or you have learned them from colleagues. Read on to find out where they apply to report writing.
1. The storyteller
The storyteller has a knack for knowing what will move their reader. They can hone in on the facts that create a story with substance, a deep truth running through it. Note that the storytellers in your organisation may not initially appear to be the most vocal ones. They sit back, listen and digest – and then they tell those stories. Find them by the coffee machine during breaks, holding colleagues spellbound with their gripping or offbeat anecdotes.
2. The scribe
This talent is something of a mimic at heart. The scribe can get inside the headspace of an audience or organisation, replicating their language without hesitation. Getting the tone of your report right is crucial to how it’s received by your audience. Look for your resident scribe by running a jargon test on your industry’s lingo – they’ll outdo their colleagues with flying colours.
3. The analyst
A powerful report is nothing without some solid number crunching, and this is where your analyst comes in. If left to their own devices, this person could happily write your whole report on background theory alone. Pair your analyst with your storyteller, however, and they’ll source the best facts to back up the storyteller’s message. Where do analysts reside? You’ll find them at their desks long after everyone has left, fervently doing some ‘background reading’.
4. The wordsmith
With so many cooks creating the broth known as a report, you’ll eventually need one master chef who can unify the language, balance the arguments with the facts, and spot any formatting glitches. Enter the wordsmith. With a little attention to detail and some quality learning materials, almost anyone can learn to be a wordsmith. Otherwise, you’ll find them patiently answering their colleagues’ spelling queries, all through the working day.