What is a report?
Before moving on to know how to plan and present reports, it is essential to understand what a report is and what makes a good report. A report can be defined as text that is written for a particular audience and for a clear purpose. It may address a particular issue or problem-related to which evidence and information are provided, analyzed and applied.
What constitutes a good report?
A report is considered to be good when it is able to provide relevant information related to the issue or problem that it deals with. The evidences and facts presented and analyzed should be relevant to the problem and their source must be acknowledged. When you write a complete report, it demonstrates that you have the ability to:
- Understand what the purpose of writing the report is
- Adhere to the specifications of the report brief
- Gather, analyze and evaluate information relevant to the issue
- Put the material together so that it is logical and coherent
- Support your report with adequate evidence
- Make conclusions that are appropriate and supported by the analysis
Writing the Report
In its simplest sense, there are four basic steps for writing a report. These steps are:
As every report needs to be concise and structured, you must plan your writing so that the outcome is as desired. The first step towards planning a report is to understand the purpose for which the report is being written. The report brief provided to you becomes the basis of your planning and you have to collect information and evidence keeping the report brief in mind.
Planning for your report also involves planning about the sources from where you can gather information. You must research and authenticate the resources before using any of their material in your report. You must keep a track of the sources that you use for your report as you will have to make a reference to each of them at the end of the report.
The last step towards planning your report involves structuring the material that you have collected. A typical report should have a structure that includes:
- An introduction
- List of references
Writing the report becomes easier if you have given time and research to the first step of planning. Once the brief is clear and the material is collected and organized, writing the report does not take long. In fact, when things are clear and organized, they make the latter work easier.
You can start writing the first draft of your report based on the sections and headings that you had planned. The introduction of the report is the most important paragraph as it is the part that can attract the readers and keep them hooked to read your report right through the conclusion. You must clearly define the topic, the purpose and the ideas that will be covered in the report in the introduction.
When writing the report, you must choose a style that is precise but clear. Your writing must include the key definitions, terms and present relevant evidences that support your views. Each section or paragraph must have a concluding sentence that relates the previous paragraph with the next one.
Once the first draft of the report is ready, you can give some time analyzing it. The next step is to cite all the references that you have made in the report. You should mention the sources from where you have gathered the information. This will give your report a genuineness and authenticity.
The last and final step of presenting your report is to review it for the final time. This time you must read the report from the reader’s perspective. At this stage of reviewing the report, you can also check whether the draft requires any rearranging of sections or paragraphs. You must analyze the report critically to ensure that the written matter is legible, cohesive and easy to understand. In addition, the material stated should be clear and concise. Once you are assured that there are no mistakes, grammatical or otherwise, you can prepare the report for presentation.
The final part of presenting a report involves checking for the format and presentation requirements, if specified. You need to proofread the report more than once to ensure that there are no mistakes. Lastly, you can present the report to another person for final assessment so that any mistakes gone unnoticed can be rectified.
If you are going to present your report in front of an audience or a certain professor, think well about how you’re going to introduce your work. Things like properly written introduction and thesis are important, but other, less obvious things matter too.
To present your report well, you have to dress appropriately. Look professional and classy. Prepare: put your report and everything else you might need on a desk, so it would be easy for you to reach these things.
Speak in a calm, confident voice, not too slow and not too fast, so the audience can easily understand you. Try not to sound monotone too and always maintain eye contact with the audience. If the audience is allowed to ask you questions, be sure to prepare in advance. To do so, think about the most obvious questions and try to come up with the answers to them beforehand.
We wish you good luck in writing and presenting your report!