If reports were fun to write, pigs would have wings. Yet, people like patterns. Your boss, your clients and your coworkers want to know what your most recent project accomplished without having to read a novel about it. So, you’ll likely find yourself creating snappy, data-heavy reports periodically throughout your professional career.
These documents might include:
I could go on and on.
Crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s is boring when you have to dig through a pile of data, create charts and measure every action in a single report. Fortunately, there are easy techniques to make report writing easier, through apps that automate analytics and by simply staying up-to-date in your industry.
Piktochart is often used for creating infographics, but it’s also a promising and unique app to use for creating reports. With the free version, you have 10 different customizable templates to use. The designs are optimized to print on two sheets of letter-sized paper, perfect for reports.
Many types of media may be included in the template. You’re able to upload videos, pictures, files, maps and charts. When you have the perfect report template, just save it to use again. More advanced functions cost $15 per month.
Dealing with marketing statistics? What if your report could link your clients to their analytics, such as SEO and social media? Raven will send automated reports with impressive design and analytics.
You’re able to schedule the reports daily or even quarterly. Raven starts at $99 per month for four users, but the cost may be worth the time and money it saves you to dig up and organize the information. Apps like Raven make the report itself easier to focus on, while also making it functional.
Use speech recognition or recording tools to capture your thoughts or record interviews with potential sources. You don’t need a tape recorder. Recording tools are a great ally for professionals to create business or client reports.
You don’t have to pay someone for transcription costs and many businesses say recording tools save time. Speech recognition tools save you an average of 100 words per minute. Law enforcement officials said it reduced the time it took them to create reports by 85 percent.
Make it a habit now to read work similar to what you are producing. Keep up with research and new products within your industry. Read reports. Read trade journals. Read.
It’s amazing what ideas you’ll pick up from analyzing what seems to be working for others and what clearly isn’t. You’ll learn more about how other businesses are talking to their audiences. You’ll see what questions you need to be asking about how you are targeting your customers through your reports.
Organize your report in advance. Depending on your report, you may need an abstract. Get the project description done first. Outline your introduction, explanation of similar projects or research, methodology and materials utilized, facts and results reporting, and your conclusion. Save extensive charts and reference graphs for the appendices, if possible.
Look at the structure of reports within your industry, and organize a template that works for your report. By breaking up the sections and having a set template in place, you will get the report done more efficiently and quickly.
Writing reports doesn’t have to require a coffee IV and a team of horses to see you through the data. With the right app, reading and a little planning ahead, you can create reports faster and more enjoyably. Before you know it, you’ll plug in an introduction, the body, the conclusion and have your infographics and analytics ready to go within a few keystrokes.
Kayla Matthews is a personal development enthusiast and productivity blogger. In addition to writing for the Noomii, Kayla also writes for The Daily Muse, The Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post.