Five Characteristics of an Effective Business Report

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Always check over your work before distributing your report.
Always check over your work before distributing your report. (Image: business report image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com)

There are a number of characteristics to effective business report writing. For example, managers should outline their reports in advance so they include all the necessary information. Additionally, managers should explain special terms or words that are outside the typical reader's knowledge base. However, five key characteristics tend to underline the most effective business reports.

Completeness

Reports need to be complete in what they are trying to convey. The best way to ensure complete report writing is to make sure you cover all of your objectives. For example, the objectives of a marketing research report may be to determine customer satisfaction levels with products, prices and customer service. Additionally, your objective may include finding out why some customers have stopped buying your products or services. The structure of a typical business report includes an introduction, body and conclusion. You should also include an executive summary for managers or colleagues who only have time to scan the results of your report. Use bullet points in your executive summary, and highlight only the most significant points or findings.

Accuracy

Your reports should always be accurate when stating facts or figures. For example, marketing managers may want to intersperse financial information in their reports. The finance manager may provide the marketing research manager with quarterly sales and profit figures for two different years. It is up to the marketing research manager to report those sales and profits accurately when including them in a report. Similarly, you will need to back up some of your statements with references. Hence, you need to make sure you fully understand another author's statements before making any references to them.

Using Simple Language

The message in your report should be simple, according to the website Entrepreneur. You should write your reports as if you are addressing someone with a junior high education. Use simple words and explanations for abstract ideas or topics. A manager should also avoid using technical terms when addressing audience members from outside of her field. For example, marketing research professions should use words like "multiple choice" and "fill-in-the-blank" in lieu of marketing research terms "open-ended" and "closed-ended," respectively. Also, keep the sentences short and to the point.

Correct Spelling, Punctuation and Verb Tense

There is simply no excuse for doling out reports with spelling or grammatical errors. Always run your reports through the spell checker on your computer. Have someone else proofread your report for possible grammatical errors or use of the wrong verb tenses. Make sure you include commas, periods, question marks and exclamation points in the proper places of all reports.

Use An Active Voice

Active voice allows you to write with authority in your reports, as opposed to passive voice. Use words or phrases like executed, managed and surveyed instead of their passive counterparts: executing, managing and surveying. Use words that end in "ed," as they represent a more active voice.

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