This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.
If only you could say everything in 140 characters… how easy some aspects of management life would become.
Sadly, you still need to be able to write clear and persuasive reports and proposals, so let’s examine the basics. There are five.
Exercise: Getting Ready to Write
Plan your report or proposal by answering the questions in each of these five areas.
- What does your reader want and need to know?
- When your readers get to the end, what do you want them think that is different from when they start?
- … and what do you want them to do?
- How will you introduce your report to give a reason to read it in the first place? Right at the start, you need to create tension.
- How will you structure your report or proposal to keep them reading from start to finish? Your structure needs to be logical and flow, and needs to ask questions to motivate readers to read the next bit.
- Think Dan Brown… What question can you leave in your readers’ minds at the end of each section?
- How will you end your report or proposal? This needs to create a powerful urge in your reader to take action.
- What evidence will you present to your readers? What facts, figures, quotations, results will really convince?
- How will you prepare and present that evidence to maximise its impact and minimise scope for misinterpretation?
- How will your structure your arguments into a rational analysis?
- What new insights can you offer?
- What difference does your report make?
- How can you use the power of emotion to boost the impact of your message?
- What is the ‘so what?’ of your report or proposal?
- How will your readers benefit if they accept your recommendations or procure your products or services?
- How will you assure the quality of your work? Maybe someone else will read and review it for you; or maybe you will put it in a drawer for three days before re-reading it thoroughly.
- What constitutes ‘good enough’? Before you start writing, list the criteria your finished report or proposal must satisfy before it is ready to go to your readers. Use this checklist rigorously after you have written the document.