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Writing Business Reports and Proposals

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1 Writing Business Reports and Proposals
Chapter 11 Writing Business Reports and Proposals

2 Chapter 11 Objectives Discuss the structure of informational reports.
Explain the structure of analytical reports. List the most popular types of visuals and discuss when to use them. Clarify five principles of graphic design to remember when preparing visuals. Identify and briefly describe five tools that writers can use in long reports to help readers stay on track.

3 First Thoughts When organizing business reports and proposals, you need to Decide on the format and length Choose the direct or indirect approach Select the appropriate informational or analytical structure Prepare the final outline

4 Deciding on Length and Format
When selecting a format, you have four options: Preprinted form Memo Letter Manuscript

5 Direct or Indirect Approach
When your audience is likely to be receptive or open-minded, use a direct approach: Begin with a summary of your key findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The direct approach Is the most popular and most convenient order for business reports Saves time and makes the rest of the report easier to follow Produces a more forceful report

6 Direct or Indirect Approach
If you’re a junior member of a status-conscious organization, or if your audience is skeptical or hostile, use the indirect approach: Introduce your complete findings and discuss all supporting details before presenting your conclusions and recommendations. The indirect approach Gives you a chance to prove your points first and gradually overcome your audience’s reservations Implies that you’ve weighed the evidence objectively without prejudging the facts Implies that you’re subordinating your judgment to that of the audience

7 Organizing Informational Reports
To arrange your material, use a topical organization such as Importance Spatial orientation Sequence Geography Chronology Category

8 Organizing Informational Reports
Two other bases for organization govern specific informational reports: Since compliance reports and routine internal reports are often prepared on preprinted forms, organize them according to the instructions provided by the person who is requesting the information. When responding to a request for proposal, you must conform to the outline specified in the RFP issued by the client.

9 Organizing Analytical Reports
When writing an analytical report, the anticipated audience reaction dictates the structural approach you use: Focus on conclusions (when your audience will be receptive) Focus on recommendations (when your audience will be receptive) Focus on logical argument (when your audience will be skeptical)

10 Organizing Analytical Reports
In analytical reports, focus on recommendations when your readers want to know what they ought to do: Start by establishing the need for action (briefly describing the problem or opportunity being examined). Introduce the benefit that can be achieved (without providing any details). List the steps (recommendations) necessary to achieve the benefit. Explain each step more fully (giving details about procedures, costs, and benefits). Summarize the recommendations.

11 Structural Approaches for Logical Argument
Scientific method Yardstick approach

12 The = 4 approach Convinces readers of your point of view by demonstrating that everything adds up Is natural and versatile (your arguments will fall naturally into this pattern) Is generally the most persuasive and efficient way to develop an analytical report for skeptical readers

13 The Scientific Method Convinces readers by stating a problem, describing the hypothetical solution(s), and offering evidence that will either confirm or rule out the solution(s) Helps you bring about a consensus by showing the strengths and weaknesses of all ideas Can confuse readers by discussing all the alternatives, no matter how irrelevant or unproductive

14 The Yardstick Approach
Convinces readers by establishing the criteria you use to evaluate possible solutions Clears up any audience confusion because all alternatives are reviewed against the same standards Is ineffective if your audience disagrees on any of the criteria Can be boring (repeating the same thing over and over again for each possible solution)

15 Final Outline A final outline gives you A diagram of your report
The important points of your report The order in which you will discuss each point The details you will include about each point

16 Final Outline Your final outline often differs from the preliminary outline that guided your research because you need to account for Your purpose Your audience’s probable reaction The things you learned during your investigation As you develop your final outline, remember that Your final outline is a working draft that you’ll revise and modify as you go along The way you phrase outline headings will affect the tone of your report

17 Visual Aids Clarify and simplify the text
Depict relationships between points Emphasize and summarize points Attract and build credibility Reinforce understanding

18 Visual Aids As valuable as visuals are, you should
Use visual aids selectively and include on each one only those elements that support your primary message Use visuals to supplement the written word, not replace it Restrict your use of visual aids to situations in which they do the most good

19 “Visualizing” Information
Decide on the message. Identify points requiring visual support. Maintain a balance between illustrations and words. Consider your production schedule.

20 Types of Visual Aids Tables
Systematically arrange data in columns and rows Are ideal when the audience needs information that would be either difficult or tedious to handle in the main text Should be limited to three column heads and six row heads when projected onto a screen during an oral presentation Can sometimes be introduced into text as part of a paragraph

21 Types of Visual Aids When preparing a numerical table, be careful to
Use common, understandable units and clearly identify them Express all items in a column in the same unit (rounding for simplicity) Label column heads clearly (using a subhead if necessary) Separate columns or rows with lines or extra space to make the table easy to follow Provide column-to-row totals or averages when relevant Document the source of the data below the table

22 Types of Visual Aids Line charts
Illustrate trends over time or plot the relationship of two variables Depict trends by arranging the vertical (y) axis to show the amount and the horizontal (x) axis to show the time or the quantity being measured May have a broken axis if the data plotted are far above zero Can be confusing if they show more than three lines at a time, especially if the lines cross Can depict both positive and negative values

23 Types of Visual Aids Bar charts make a series of numbers easy to read and are particularly useful when you want to Compare the size of several items at one time Show changes in one item over time Indicate the composition of several items over time Show the relative size of components of a whole

24 Types of Visual Aids Pie Charts
Show how parts of a whole are distributed Show percentages effectively Compare one segment with another When composing pie charts, try to Restrict the number of slices in the pie Place the largest or most important slice at the twelve o’clock position Use different colors or patterns to distinguish the various pieces

25 Types of Visual Aids Flowcharts illustrate a sequence of events from start to finish—such as Processes Procedures Sequential relationships


27 Types of Visual Aids Organization charts illustrate the interactions between a firm’s positions, units, or functions. Maps show geographic relationships: The concentrations of something by area Regional differences Locations Drawings, diagrams, and photographs are most often used to show how something looks.

28 Using Graphic Design Principles
Continuity Emphasis Contrast Simplicity Experience

29 Fitting Graphics Into Text
Introduce graphics in the text. Place them near the text they illustrate. When referring to visuals in text Be sure to introduce each visual before it appears Emphasize the main point of the visual without simply repeating the data that is already shown in the visual Place the visual near the point it illustrates

30 Composing Business Reports and Proposals
You can use an informal tone when You know your readers reasonably well Your report is likely to meet with their approval You’re writing a brief memo or letter report Use a more formal tone when Your report is longer and contains complex or controversial information Your report will be sent outside your own work area or outside the organization You’re communicating with people from other cultures

31 Composing Business Reports and Proposals
When using a more formal style, you Eliminate all references to I, we, us, our, and you Stress your objectivity, remaining businesslike and unemotional Avoid overusing phrases such as there is and it is Avoid passive voice Eliminate your own opinions and perceptions Use no jokes, similes, or metaphors Avoid colorful adjectives and adverbs

32 Guiding Readers through Reports
Start with an opening that indicates the report’s subject and importance. Use headings, subheadings, and lists effectively. Use transitions to bind the report. Use preview and review sections. Create an ending that leaves a strong, lasting impression.

33 Test Your Knowledge Let’s Discuss
What are your options for structuring an informational report? What are your options for structuring an analytical report? How does topical organization differ from logical organization? When is it appropriate to use tables, line charts, surface charts, and pie charts in a report? What five principles apply to effective visuals for business reports?

34 Test Your Knowledge Let’s Discuss
continued How does a flowchart differ from an organization chart? What tools can you use to help readers follow the structure and flow of information in a long report? What ethical issue is raised by the use of technology to alter photographs in reports? What is the purpose of adding titles and legends to visual aids in reports? How do writers use transitions in reports?

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