I’ve spent a good deal of my professional life trying to get the people I work for to notice my reports. I’ve also spent way too much time reading reports that don’t do their job.
Here are 10 things every good report must have when you present it to senior executives:
1. A message: What’s the takeaway you want your readers to remember? Are you producing the report to win support, get a bigger budget or change the way things are done? Whatever it is, that key message must flow throughout your report.
2. A story: Don’t obsess over the charts, graphs and numbers. They’re only there to illustrate your story. The story is what people will remember, so make sure it’s the right one.
3. A “so what?”: Anyone who has ever put down a report and thought, “So what?” will know what I’m talking about. The report says, “We got this many hits, xx were positive,” then lists all the stories along with their full text. What conclusion could you come to other than, “Why did I just read this? It doesn’t tell me anything.”