When writing a report to be presented at a meeting, you need to follow some basic guidelines, most of which you probably learned in school. For example, you need to be sure about the purpose of your report, you need to focus on a precisely defined subtopic and you need to write with your audience in mind.

Know beforehand the educational and work backgrounds of meeting participants. This helps you know how much of the topic you need to explain. For example, imagine you’re drafting a report on the number of accidents at certain town intersections that will be presented at the next Traffic Committee meeting. If three of the five committee members have backgrounds in law enforcement, you won’t need to explain phrases like “navigating a turn.”

Remember your high school English teacher’s advice: Don’t try to tackle the universe. Write about a smaller segment of your main topic. It makes your report easier to understand. For example, “pedestrian safety” may be the main subject for a traffic study report, but your report is limited to one part of that subject--improving safety at two intersections.

Make sure to provide enough context in your introduction and conclusion. That helps meeting participants understand the significance of your proposals. For example, if your report recommends hiring auxiliary police officers to work in the municipal court, your introduction would explain the municipality’s year-long struggles to offset increases in overtime paid to police officers. The conclusion would reiterate how this proposal is just one of many that can help the municipality plug holes in its budget.

Let the title of the report suggest whether the meeting has been scheduled to solve problems or to provide information. For example, if a manager has called the meeting to inform team members that the last quarter’s sales have increased, your title might be, “Third Quarter Sales: The Impact of New Customer Service Procedures.”

Reports usually are aimed at influencing someone's actions. Mention the feedback you’re expecting--and from whom. For example, a school superintendent’s report on an increase in student test scores may recommend the board approve a resolution that turns a pilot study program into a permanent one.