One of the common forms of communication in business and science is report writing. Writing business and technical reports requires writing and organizational skills, research capabilities and the ability to interpret data and present it in a manner that experts can appreciate yet a layperson can understand. Business and technical reports have many of the same elements, therefore, the main difference between business reports and technical reports is generally the subject matter.
1. Decide Who is the Audience
Determine your audience and how your business and technical information will be disseminated. Whether you're writing a business and technical report for a group of experts or sharing your business expertise with a group of students, knowing your audience will help in constructing an informative, well-received report. Decide if your report is simply a written form of communication or a multimedia presentation. If you have use of technology that benefits the presentation, by all means incorporate charts, slides, video or other ways to illustrate some of the points of your report.
2. Do Your Research
Conduct research on types of business reports and technical reports. Review sample reports and templates to become familiar with the type of information expected in your own business communication.
3. Prepare an Outline
Outline your topic and include subtopics to assist with the research process. Prepare an outline to keep your focus on each section and help you avoid meandering, which can produce a disorganized presentation. Typical business or technical reports include the following sections: introduction; qualifications and topic background; research data; conclusions; and future considerations.
4. Prepare the First Draft
Draft the first substantive section of your business or technical report. Start with describing your qualifications, interests and reasons why your information is valuable. Explain how your audience can utilize your information or how your data should be interpreted. You're not telling your audience how to perceive your findings or how to form opinions about your report. Instead, your report should begin with the context of your information.
For example, if you are writing about workplace trends concerning telecommuting, explain how companies can use your findings to formulate telecommuter arrangements.
5. Assemble Research Findings and Data
Organizing your research is extremely important because your audience will question your expertise if you present unreliable, outdated or invalid findings. Ensure your data is especially relevant to your topic and restructure it in a way that's understandable. Unless your audience is comprised only of experts with deep knowledge of technical and business jargon, keep your research simple. Substitute jargon with terms that are familiar to the layperson, and summarize your research in an engaging manner.
6. Articulate Your Conclusions
Prepare a discussion of your findings, including your conclusions and suggested ways to incorporate your report into business or technical processes. Without being disjointed, articulate your findings in an innovative and creative manner. Business and technical reports sometimes have a reputation for being staid and conservative. You can inspire creative use of your report through showing data that forward-thinking audiences can use.
7. Assemble the Document
Assemble the sections of your document in logical order. Write a short introduction after you've completed every section--it's often easier to compose an introduction once you have a chance to review your overall draft. Your introduction should be concise--the purpose of your introduction is to simply provide your audience with a glimpse of your business or technical report topic.
8. Refine and Edit
Allow yourself time to refine and edit your report. It's a good idea to put the report aside and return to it a day or two later with a fresh set of eyes. If possible, ask a colleague to review your draft. Incorporate any suggestions you feel add to the credibility and usability of your information.