Business communication requires a number of skills, ranging from effective presentation skills to the ability to understand graphs, charts and data. There is also the need to write effectively and concisely while including all pertinent information that can help to understand the communication sent out.
This is where report writing skills are important and will come into play. Report writing skills are different to normal business communication or simple writing skills as they encompass a different set of abilities, such as the ability to write objectively and factually rather than using emotion and persuasion in your pieces.
What are report writing skills?
Report writing skills are vital to effective communication in any office. The skills that are required for writing an effective report can include the following.
The ability to focus
This is essentially keeping in mind the objective of your report. You should not be distracted easily by information that does not relate to the report or is not necessarily needed for inclusion in the report as this will make for an unstructured and unfocused report.
An analytical approach
Being able to analyse and utilise data are essential report writing skills, as having an analytical approach will allow you to interpret the information you have been given, such as financial data, SEO numbers or performance data on employees. You’ll also have to make an analysis of the target audience, the purpose for which audience requires the report, the type of data the audience is looking for in the report, and the implications of report reading.
An objective mindset
When writing a business report that’s regarding an employee’s behaviour or a disciplinary action report, it is important to be able to take both sides into account without bringing emotion into play. Meaning that you will have to apply an objective eye to the information provided. It will not be conducive to decision making if you write a report that is fraught with emotion and is subjectively biased toward the employee in question.
The ability to be clear and concise
A report for business purposes does not need to be lengthy or convoluted, but rather it should be accurate, clear and concise, including only the most important details and information. This does not mean, however, that you should aim for a short document, but that you should practice the ABC of report writing: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. Your report can be over three pages long, but should never read like a conversational piece or include information that has no place in it.
Simply put, quality assurance means the proof-reading, editing and fact-checking of a report, which further increases the effectiveness of the document and the information. It is important to verify every piece of information that goes into the report as not only will incorrect information reflect badly on you, but it can hinder any decisions made regarding the report, such as budget cuts or hiring a new employee.
How can report writing skills help in business communication?
Report writing skills can help improve business communication in many ways, such as improving general writing ability and boosting the effectiveness of further business communications. Some of the ways that having and improving report writing skills can help business communication:
- The quality of writing in business reports will improve.
- The content and format of business reports will always be correct.
- General writing and document sequences will be logical and meaningful.
- The presentation of business reports will improve, as will the formats.
- The clarity and efficiency of all business writing will improve.
- Organisation skills will improve, due to having to remain focused and accurate when writing reports.
Improving your report writing skills is of vital importance to any successful business communication and there are some effective ways that you can improve them aside from going on a report writing course, which in itself is extremely helpful.
Thinking before you write applies not only to report writing, but to every type of business communication you may be writing. It is important to ask yourself what the audience should know or think after reading the email, proposal or report. And if the answer is not immediately clear, then you may have started writing preemptively.
The writing structure you learnt in school does not cross over well into business writing, where you need to be direct and clear without writing long introductions and conclusions. Business reports should be direct in their message and remain clear and accurate throughout, so be sure to keep this in mind when writing a report that is meant for a business situation or will be read by an analyst or decision maker within the company.