Recommended Headings for Business Reports
Contributed by Deane Gradous, Twin Cities consultant
What is the meta-message? “We make well-considered and important decisions.” “This group accomplishes a lot.”
What is the meta-message? “I add value to the organization and am a learner/achiever.”
What is the meta-message? “I follow good scientific methods.
Date of trip/destination
What is the meta-message? “I am a good investigator/ambassador.”
What Report Readers Want to Know From Research/Activity Reports
- Do I need to read your report? Does the title indicate a subject that is relevant to my responsibilities? Is the title
accurate and descriptive? Does your report look interesting and readable?
- Give me a quick overview. Does your report have an executive summary so I can decide whether or not I need to read the whole thing?
- Why did you undertake this research/activity? Fill me in on the context and the background. Explain the relevance of your research/activity to our larger organizational goals.
- What purposes or accomplishments did you aim for? What were the major objectives and sub-objectives of your research/activity? What questions did you ask?
- What methods, processes, and procedures did you use? Because I and others may need to make decisions on the basis of information in your report, I expect to see a detailed description of what you did to obtain your results/findings. What obstacles and surprises did you encounter in the process?
- What are your results/findings? I don’t want to know everything you know about your research/activity. I do want to know what you discovered/accomplished. I hope you have included negative as well as positive results, so I and many others can learn from your research/activity.
- How do you interpret your results/findings? Your facts are interesting and important, but they also require some heavy thinking to interpret. Don’t leave all of the difficult, interpretive work to me. Give me tables, lists, charts, and/or graphs, and point out the patterns in the data. Turn the data info information.
- What are the implications of your results/findings? What do your results/findings mean in terms of others’ activities? Turn your information into knowledge. Go beyond your interpretation to explain the significance of these results/findings. Do also express the limitations of these results/findings.
- What follow-up research/activities do you recommend? Because you have studied and explored the context, the background, and the results/findings in some detail, I look to you to offer recommendations on related decisions and future research/activities.
- What are the facts?
- What do they mean?
- What do we do now?
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For the Category of Communications (Business Writing):
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