Reports and Proposals: New Techniques for High-stakes Business Documents

Reports, Proposals, and Procedures is a new book that offers a host of techniques for using each section of a complex document to advance specific business needs. The Wall Street Journal and Forbes interviewed us this year to ask how investing in communication skills boosts your professional success. Here are some of the ways:

  • To explain exactly how your readers will benefit from working with you
  • To consider the informational needs of very different reader groups — e.g.,
    • People with and without specific technical knowledge
    • Readers who’ll only have time to skim an executive summary
  • To present a clear, concise analysis of a complex topic
  • To set out a step-by-step procedure to achieve a specific objective

Any long document makes significant demands on its readers’ time. This book helps you organize information with clear snapshots of the contents of each section as well as the document as a whole.

For instance, busy readers may not notice it if you include a helpful introductory list of eight topics for a twenty-page section of a technical report. But your clear writing will help them skip seven items they don’t need to see and jump straight to the eighth item they do need. That fact will save them valuable time and send an image of you as a clear, efficient communicator.

Reports, Proposals, and Procedures goes far beyond document templates for stock business needs by putting an array of writing tools at your fingertips. Here are some of the questions you’ll learn to answer:

  • How do we write an executive summary?
  • How do we decide what to include, and what to leave out?
  • How do we organize a large amount of necessary information?
  • How do we keep dense information user-friendly?

A chapter on outlining helps you put yourself in all your readers’ shoes and identify what they need you to provide for them. This kind of clear thinking prevents wasteful returns to the drawing board, it keeps your document easy to follow, and it boosts your credibility.

This approach is also highly flexible: you’ll learn how to break down a document into focused subsections and also see it as a unified whole. You can sidestep one-size-fits-all document templates by starting with your own unique concerns and all your readers’ most likely questions.

We use the book to deliver onsite and online trainings for Write It Well clients — either off the shelf or custom-tailored for one client’s reports, proposals, and written-communication goals.

The book is available in three formats:

Reports, Proposals, and Procedures helps you present clear information, set out easy-to-follow steps, and explain exactly how readers benefit from the work you report on or pitch in a proposal. The book can help you and your team break the ice, avoid the hassle of rewriting, land new projects, and benefit your bottom line.