Ace your annual reports: bookmark this collection

Jayne Dalmer | February 17, 2021

Annual report season is approaching. It’s time to decide whether you’ll cobble together a beige collection of numbers and words — or craft a compelling, easy-to-read report that cuts through to decision makers.

Advice to ace your annual reports

In this collection we share timeless techniques, advice, and examples for breathing life into your annual report. And we explain how to do it efficiently and convincingly.

We’ve chosen choice morsels on writing annual reports from Write’s blogging experts.

Slay your annual report dragon for a happy ever after

Find out how to tell a story with your report and get it to hum with life, while still meeting all your reporting obligations.

Ask yourself, what’s the story here? Is it making customers the star, showing the impact of your organisation, or leading through innovation? Do you have a rags-to-riches tale, a monster to overcome, a ‘phoenix from the ashes’ story? Is your story a quest for the holy grail — facing challenges as you move ahead?

Image, typewriter with a black and red ribbon and a sheet with 'Stories matter; typed on it

Find the story at the heart of your annual report. Image by Suzy Hazelwood / Pexels licence

Aiming for clarity in annual reports

Have you wondered whether investors even bother to read your annual report? Learn to write a crystal-clear report so stakeholders can quickly get the information they need to make decisions confidently.

Performance measures are explained, and indicators reported, in a way that allows readers to make useful comparisons with other companies or organisations.

Unleash the power of plain language on your readers

Read how plain language reporting can make your organisation seem more likeable, reliable, and trustworthy.

Again and again, research across a number of industries has shown that people are more inclined to distrust an organisation that uses unclear structures and complex words.

Image, multicoloured origami boats on a table

People trust and follow organisations that use plain language. Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán / Pexels licence

A good title makes your report unmissable

Avoid the bland. And don’t waste your first chance to get your readers’ attention. Find out how to write a descriptive title that captures the purpose and story of your annual report.

Imagine explaining what your report is about to a reader sitting opposite you. Say it aloud.

Instead of:
Sleigh feasibility study
You could write:
Could Santa use a sleigh to deliver a billion presents in one night?

Write headings to make reading easy

Save your readers’ time. Learn to craft report headings your reader can grasp in a trice and soak up like a sponge.

Whenever you move to a new message, start it with a statement heading that sums up what you’re going to say. When you craft a statement heading, dig all the way down to the key information.

Need expert help with your annual report?

Our consultants can help, whatever stage of the report process you’re at — from thinking and planning to polishing and proofreading.

Talk to us about how we can help you with your annual report

If you need a motivational or technical boost to do it yourself — go to our online content library, Write Online.

Try Write Online for free

Get inspiration from winning reports

See the Best Plain English Annual Report from 2018’s Plain English Awards.
Winner: Ryman Healthcare
Finalist: Statistics New Zealand
Finalist: Ministry for Women

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.