Shopping in New York City on Black Friday was madness. There were so many people hunting for bargains, I could barely walk on the sidewalk on Broadway or Fifth Avenue. All I could see was people. Each time I tried to pass, I’d have to dodge around someone, ending up on the road. You could barely get around in the stores without bumping into people – it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
What, you may be wondering does shopping on Black Friday have to do with writing a business report? Here’s what made the connection for me.
When I returned home I read a newspaper article called the How-to guide to surviving Black Friday without losing your mind. The headline jumped out at me. It made perfect sense. To survive such a crazy shopping day (which, as you are probably aware has spread to Canada), you need to have a plan. The article makes for a fun read, but the survival tips boil down to three points.
1. Do your research in advance (read the store flyers and comparison shop).
2. Plan your route and consider all the logistics (store opening times, etc.).
3. Wear comfortable shoes.
Black Friday shoppers splurge on savings.
It struck me that, except perhaps for #3, surviving Black Friday is not so different from surviving the task of writing a good business report. Accomplishing a successful report takes forethought and planning. Just as you don’t want to find yourself wandering aimlessly around New York City on Black Friday, hoping for a good deal, you don’t want to simply jump into writing, without a plan, and expect that you’ll turn out a good report.
Admittedly, there is a little more to writing a good report than there is to surviving a shopping trip. Business reports can be complex, fulfilling a multitude of needs from analyzing a company’s financial position to reporting on the structure of an organization, with well-crafted strategies for improvement. But the following tips should give you a framework for thinking about how to approach writing any business report, no matter the subject.
The Language Lab’s How-to guide to surviving writing a good business report:
- Brainstorm your ideas before writing, clarifying your concept(s).
- Identify goals and hoped-for outcomes.
- Initiate the process by creating an outline, then write according to this plan.
- Review your report to make sure that the content is logically sequenced, the writing is precise, and you have kept your audience in mind throughout.
Just as a well-executed shopping trip means you come home with a sense of satisfaction, having achieved your goals (even if those goals were merely about expanding your sweater collection), a well-executed report has a similar sense of a task planned and successfully accomplished.
If you are focused you have a much better chance of getting the perfect sweater – or getting that great report written. Before I went shopping on Black Friday I first made a plan. East of Broadway, west of Broadway; then if I couldn’t find what I wanted, I’d hit midtown. Proof of the worth of my plan: A beautiful sweater, and one very nice pair of gloves.
What’s your approach to writing a business report? If you have any of your own tips, let me know through commenting on the blog post. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.