Master The Art: How to Write a Business Report – 6 Great Tips
September 01, 2023
How do you write brilliant business reports? Could you be more impressive writing business reports?
In the world of business, effective communication is key. Whether you’re an executive presenting a quarterly performance review, a manager sharing project updates, or an analyst summarising market research, you need to write clear and concise reports.
A well-crafted business report might convey information, influence decision-making and drive action. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of how to write a business report that stands out and makes an impact on your professional audience.
These days, we write more than ever. That means it’s harder than ever to grab attention with business reports. Your readers have more and more to get through – so you need to make it easy for them to read what you write. This is especially true in report writing.
Writing high quality business reports is a key business skill. And it is a skill you can learn. We’ve coached hundreds of people to improve their report writing skills. If you want help, then get in touch. We’d be delighted to discuss how we could help you.
Read these top tips on how to write a business report from our expert coaches:
How to Write Business Reports – Top Tips
1. Be clear on your purpose
Before diving into writing your powerful business report, it’s crucial to define your report’s purpose and identify your target audience. Ask yourself:
- Why am I writing this business report?
- What information does my audience need?
- How will this report be used (e.g., for decision-making, information sharing, or strategic planning)?
When you have a clear purpose and you understand your audience’s expectations, you’ll find it easier to structure and create the right content when you write a business report.
But how do you write reports so they are easier to read? These six tips are some of the many ideas we apply in our business report writing training programme. Try them out today and you’ll find it easier than ever to communicate clearly.
2. Get to the point, quickly in your business reports
If your memo asks for authorisation for new expenditure, say it in the first line. If your report tells the board there is nothing to worry about in the new regulation, say so in the first paragraph. If your memo seeks approval for a new consumer test, say exactly that in the headline. Make it easy for the reader to know what you want them to do.
3. Keep your business reports short and simple
Great writing is easy to read. It uses simple structures and short phrases. Just by breaking long written sentences into shorter thought units, you can make your writing more accessible.
How to write a business report better:
- make sure words that relate to each other are close together
- get rid of jargon
- cut unnecessary detail and
- break down complex sentences into constituent parts.
BEFORE: In reviewing the strategic impact of the Corporate ESG Assessment Report, the board considered many factors including environmental damage and pollution control, including the impact this had on our operations in south east Asia, South America and Africa and concluded that the current situation was satisfactory.
AFTER: After reviewing the Corporate ESG Assessment Report, the board concluded that our current ESG situation was satisfactory.
Great managers have been encouraging their staff to write better for a long time. Here’s a classic memo written in 1944. (National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
4. Use the right verb when you write a business report
Your verbs power your sentences. They drive your thinking forward and direct the reader. When you select the right verb, you find the heart of your sentence and get to the heart of your meaning. Pick out strong verbs to hammer home what you want to say.
BEFORE: The new office has grown turnover quickly.
AFTER: We doubled turnover in the new office in the last 6 months.
5. Edit your reports, ruthlessly
A large part of writing is re-writing. You should never be happy with your first draft. Editing when you write a business report is the one thing that distinguishes a mediocre writer from a clear business writer. You can edit it yourself. You can ask someone else to read your business report for you. Always imagine yourself as someone who is short of time, distracted and has just a few second to look at your report. Have you made it easy for them to read? If not, then look out for the following:
- Redundant words
- Needless repetition
- Ideas not explained clearly enough.
- Check the order of your writing.
- Is your start and your end strong enough?
Have you really made it easy for the reader? Keep editing until your writing is as good as it can be.
6. How to write a brilliant business report – Read it out loud
My penultimate tip when you write a business report is always read your writing out loud.
When you read your writing, you’ll spot logical errors, complex sentences and boring bits. And when you read out loud, you are more likely to uncover the beauty and rhythm in your words that make them easier to read.
7. BONUS TIP Business report writing – Read more journalism
Journalists are professional writers while most of us are amateurs. Journalists get paid to capture attention, to explain what’s going on and to get you back the next day for more of the same. When you read a newspaper, note how the writer structures sentences, produces paragraphs and shapes their articles.
Copy their ideas and try their style. Find out which of their expert tools works best for you. The more you read, the better you will be when you write a business report.
If you are interested in improving how you write, start by applying these six tips. But if you want to take it further, why not consider a BBA business writing skills training programme in your company. They are short, intensive and highly effective. We organise intensive training that helps you look at your own writing in a different way. We help you pull apart bad writing and build it up again using best practice techniques.
You’ll come away from a BBA training course very clear on what bad writing looks like – and how to create great writing. By the end, you’ll be producing confident powerful written reports that are read and acted on.
About Benjamin Ball Associates
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.
Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.
We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and discuss transforming your speeches, pitches and presentations.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How will training on business writing improve my business and career?
The most successful businesses are those which communicate well.
Clear written content has never been more important at a time when both on- and offline platforms are crowded with a cacophony of competing voices.
Cutting through the noise with concise, sharp and intelligent written communication is essential for any ambitious 21st century organisation seeking to secure competitive advantage.
We’ll show you how to craft compelling, engaging and persuasive content which sets you apart from the crowd. Reports that deliver clear outcomes for your business. Proposals that win new customers or attract new investment. Presentations that persuade, entertain and drive change. Emails and online content that crisply capture everything you need to say as succinctly and pithily as possible.
It’s no coincidence that the world’s best companies also boast some of the world’s best business writers.
Who needs to improve their business report writing skills?
Most of us aren’t born writers (unless our name’s Hemingway or Austen). It’s a life skill we must learn, just like any other. In fact, it’s an essential business skill if you’re serious about your career, because very few people make it to the top of their profession unless they’re effective communicators.
You may be a business leader who wants to fine-tune your writing skills at a time when high-stakes communication is becoming increasingly important to your organisation. Or you may just want to be a better presenter or public speaker.
You may be a People Manager looking to enhance your learning and development programmes with some tailored writing training for your graduates or for colleagues in the early stages of their careers.
We’ve worked with professionals at all levels and at all stages of their careers – and helped to transform their written communication.
What business writing courses are on offer from Benjamin Ball Associates?
We tailor our courses to your specific needs, whether it’s for your sales team looking to develop punchier pitches; your investor relations team looking to sharpen up their investor pitch books; or your younger colleagues in need of some basic writing skills.
We offer one-to-one coaching or group courses, physically or virtually. Our standard Business Writing for Professionals course runs across two half-days for up to eight people, but we’re happy to adapt course content and length to meet your organisation’s particular needs – or to accommodate the specific requirements of your company’s learning and development programme.
We also run a half-day course on Storytelling: The Secret to Compelling Presentation, which develops that aspect of our course content in more detail.
Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.
What leaders say about Benjamin Ball Associates
"Essential if you are going to be a spokesperson for your business"
Senior Analyst, Sloane Robinson
"Being an effective communicator is essential to get your stock ideas across. This course is exactly what's needed to help you do just that!"
CEO, Blast! Films
“Our investment in the coaching has paid for itself many times over.”
Corporate Finance House
“You address 95% of the issues in a quarter of the time of your competitor.”
“Good insight and a great toolbox to improve on my presentations and delivery of messages to not only boards, analysts and shareholders but to all audiences”
“We had a good story to tell, but you helped us deliver it more coherently and more positively.”
CEO, IPSO Ventures
“Ben did a great job on our presentation. He transformed an ordinary set of slides into a great presentation with a clear message. Would definitely use him again and recommend him highly.”
“Moved our presentation into a different league and undoubtedly improved the outcome and offer we received.”
Head of IR, Equinox
“A fantastic job reviewing and transforming our marketing material and helping us get our message across with clarity to potential investors.”