Business reports have more in common with cakes than you might think.
If they both look professionally made (written) and have great ingredients (content), it’s hard to say no.
Carefully-made cakes and business reports can be a joy to consume.
And whether you need to write this business report for your job or as part of a language exam, it’s a fantastic opportunity to impress.
By paying attention to both the words in your report and the presentation (how it looks), you can prove that you are a good writer to your boss or to the examiner grading your paper.
So we are going to help you write an irresistible business report by providing six simple guidelines.
6 Tips to Write Irresistible Business Reports in English
1. Understand What Reports Are For
Business reports aren’t the same as sending an email or writing a formal letter. What are they for? A good business report describes a present or past situation in an objective way. Objective means that the report states facts, not an opinion.
It is called a “report” because it “reports on” something. Pay attention—sometimes you may be asked to give your own opinions and recommendations. However, you should do this in just one section of the report. Remember, a report is not an essay. It is not about what you think, it is about an objective situation which you need to present clearly.
Whoever the reader is, they probably want to focus on the facts, not on your interpretation of the facts. If the reader is your boss, this is a good chance for you to impress with your level of objective analysis. If the reader is the examiner grading your paper, your goal is to prove that you have the language skills to pass the test.
To keep the purpose of the report in mind, make a plan before you start writing. If you don’t have the time to write a full draft, try to focus on the main ideas you need to include.
In an exam, you are given a task and you must make sure you include information about all the sections of the task. In real life, you also need to follow the instructions of the person having you write the report.
2. Keep the Tone Neutral
Since the reader is probably somebody higher up, so you should try to use a neutral tone, maybe even a formal one. Here are two language tricks you can use to help achieve a formal tone.
Use the passive voice to shift focus from the person performing the action to the action itself. For example:
Active: The managers need to make changes in their management style.
Passive:Changes in management style need to be made.
Here, the passive voice is used to keep the tone impersonal and therefore more formal. We don’t want to focus on the person performing the action (the person who needs to make the changes). Instead, the passive voice focuses on the action (the fact that changes need to be made).
Use compound nouns to help achieve a formal, business-like tone. This will also help to keep your writing clear and to the point. For example:
- customer service manager (instead of saying “manager responsible for the services provided to customers”)
- customer satisfaction (rather than “the satisfaction which customers feel”)
- complaints procedure (not “procedure for dealing with complaints”)
3. Make It Reader-friendly
Here are some formatting tips that will make your business report easier to read.
Include a standard top section
This is a section that most people forget about when writing a report, especially if they write it on paper (not on a computer) as part of an exam. The standard top section is provided automatically when you write an email.
It is helpful to include a top section in reports, as well as in proposals and memos, because the reader sees at a glance who the report is addressed to, who wrote it, when it was written and what it is about.
To: (Provide the name of the person who is going to read the report. If you don’t know the name, you can write the position, e.g. the sales manager.)
From: ([Write your name.)
Date: (Write the date. Just stick to month and day and you can’t go wrong, e.g. December 9. Don’t forget months are capitalized in English.)
Subject: (Write a concise and helpful title for your report, so the reader quickly understands what the report is about.)
When somebody reads a report as part of their job, they usually want to be able to find information as fast as possible. You can help them do that by using headings. Headings are like subtitles of the different sections of your report. They summarize the main ideas of a section.
For example, in this very blog post, “Include a standard top section,” “Use headings” and “Use bullet points” are subheadings which make the post easier to read.
Here are some example headings you can use in your business report:
- Terms of reference (Why the report was written.)
- Procedure (How you found out what had happened.)
- Findings (What you discovered.)
- Conclusions (A summary of the information you presented.)
- Recommendations (What you suggest the reader should do. This is the only part in which you can be more subjective and present your own opinions.)
Use bullet points
Use bullet points to help you structure the information more clearly.
You may decide to use bullet points when you have lists of items. Readers love them because bullet points help with reading speed.
Make sure your bullet points follow the same grammatical structure. For instance, you may have something like:
I therefore recommend:
- Organizing twice weekly get-togethers
- Introducing teamwork whenever possible
- Creating a bonus scheme to reward high-performing employees
In the above example, notice how all the verbs in the bullet points follow the same grammatical structure (“-ing” form). We would not write, for example, “that we should introduce teamwork whenever possible” for the second bullet, because that would break the -ing pattern.
However, don’t overuse bullet points—especially in writing exams, where you need to prove your ability to use a variety of complex grammatical structures.
If you want to become a master of English writing and create strong written messages, then you might want to consider getting a special resource devoted to the topic of writing in English. Inklyo is a perfect resource for any English student who wants to improve their writing.
It has both books and courses that can help you learn all about powerful and professional English writing.
4. Master Business Vocabulary and Grammar
Good language makes a good impression, whether you are writing a report as part of your job, or as part of an exam.
Try to use a wide range of vocabulary to prove you have a good level of English. You can improve your vocabulary by reading business articles. However, when it comes to writing, you must make sure you integrate (use) the words you learned in the right context.
The best way to learn new words is to use them. So whenever you hear a new word or expression, write it down and make your own sentences with it.
When it comes to grammar, you should try to use more complex grammatical structures like “if” clauses. For example, in the recommendations section, you could include something like:
If the company adopted a more modern corporate culture, the employees would feel more valued.
But don’t forget about clarity! Sometimes really long and complex sentences are difficult to read. If it is not clear to you, it is probably not clear to the reader.
English grammar is a complex and sometimes confusing topic, so do not hesitate to ask for help when learning English grammar and using it in your business writing.
If you are currently in the United States, then you can use Wyzant to find an English grammar tutor or an English writing tutor near you. That is correct—there are tutors just for grammar and writing, and native English speakers need them too!
5. Watch Out for Spelling
Spellcheck may seem like the best invention ever when you are writing reports as part of your job. Remember that spellcheck tools can’t find all mistakes, though.
Also, you may want to use special sites that help check spelling—but you can’t use them in exams!
What you can do, however, is avoid using words if you are not sure of their spelling. You want to show your strengths, not your weaknesses. Naturally, when you prepare for the exam, you are going to stop and check the correct spelling in a dictionary. But during the exam, use a synonym if you’re unsure.
6. Proofread to Perfection
Set aside a few good minutes to proofread what you wrote once you’ve finished your report. Never hand in a report before you’ve had the chance to proofread it at least twice.
Why twice? Because it is difficult to focus on more than one type of mistake at a time. You should proofread it once for grammar and vocabulary mistakes, and once for spelling mistakes.
Watch out for double subjects (e.g. “A job description it is difficult to write” — Incorrect), words that don’t fit into the context and words that are similar to words in your native language, but spelled differently.
Installing Grammarly on your web browser will help you catch many, many grammar mistakes in your English writing. It highlights mistakes and suggests corrections for you. You can use this while writing anything from reports to emails.
We know that some business reports are incredibly important to your company, to your clients and to your career. When you have an important business report that needs to be perfect and polished, we highly recommend that you contact Proofreading Services, an online team of professional editors with tons of knowledge and experience. They offer combined proofreading and editing for over 5,000 clients in 93 countries, and they give an exclusive discount to FluentU readers. All you need is our secret password: FLUENTU15. This code entitles you to 15% off at ProofreadingServices.com!
Writing a really good business report is worth every minute. It is written proof that you understand the situation/topic, and can logically share that information with others.
It can help you create a good impression of both your writing skills and your business competence. Write your best and you will be seen as the best!
Ana Maria Hopartean teaches English as a foreign language at university level in Romania. She designed TOEFL and Cambridge exam preparation courses. She has a PhD in Psychology applied to language learning and her main focus is trying to help adult learners cope with anxiety while learning a foreign language.
And One More Thing…
To keep improving your business English, you’ll love FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized and fun English learning lessons.
It has a large library of English videos that native English speakers watch regularly.
FluentU has an entire business category filled with authentic business-related videos covering six language levels.
To show the variety of videos even inside this single category, real-world business videos on FluentU include “Introducing Business Colleagues,” “Business Buzzwords,” “Control Your Inbox!” and “What Warren Buffet Thinks About Cash.”
If you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories (such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or “Arts and Entertainment”).
Every video has English subtitles. Each word comes with an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences.
Just tap or click on any word in the subtitles to get more information. For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” you will see this:
Plus, FluentU also has interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun questions.
To get started, sign up for FluentU on the website or download the app from iTunes today!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.
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Business people negotiate all the time.
They negotiate salaries and bonuses, details of contracts with partners, and deadlines with managers.
There are a lot of things you can do to ensure you get the most out of a negotiation.
Naturally, you should find out as much as you can about your negotiation partner (the person you will be negotiating with), about their business and about negotiations in general.
But you can also help yourself a lot in a negotiation situation just by knowing the right vocabulary.
In this post, we are going to look at some general negotiations vocabulary, as well as some phrases you can use during a negotiation.
37 Useful Words and Phrases for Business Negotiations in English
General Words and Phrases Having to Do with Negotiations
When trying to get the most out of a negotiation, you may want to do some reading about the negotiation process.
We particularly like these easy-to-understand sites that walk you through the essentials of the negotiation process:
- This other site gives you more details about each step of the negotiation process.
If you are willing to learn more tips about effective negotiations, you may come across some words and phrases you need to know in order to fully understand your material. Here are some of the most important words that you may find useful. Look at the definitions and read the examples to fully understand them.
1. To bargain
Explanation: To discuss the conditions of an agreement, to negotiate. You can also use this as a noun (something can be a bargain) to refer to products being sold for a really good price.
“You can’t bargain with him, he’s very inflexible.”
“This laptop was such a bargain! I paid half as much as you paid for yours and mine is much faster.”
2. Bottom line
Explanation: The most important factor.
“The bottom line is that we cannot raise both salaries and bonuses.”
Explanation: A choice that could be better than the present situation.
“Let’s consider the alternatives before deciding on the best candidate for this position.”
4. To reach consensus
Explanation: To agree on a matter that initially (at first) you disagreed upon.
“After a really long debate, they managed to reach consensus on the issue of sick leave.”
5. Counter proposal
Explanation: An alternative solution you offer when you disagree with the one already presented.
“We came with a counter proposal, but they weren’t open to negotiation.”
Explanation: A point in a discussion which takes you nowhere because people cannot reach agreement.
“We reached deadlock quite early in the discussion, because they weren’t willing to listen to our arguments and they didn’t make any counter proposals.”
7. Highball / Lowball
Explanation: To highball means to ask for a lot more than you think your partner will agree to offer you. On the contrary, when you lowball, you offer much less than you think is acceptable.
“They started the negotiation by highballing their expectations, but we saw right through it.”
“I thought my boss was going to lowball by giving me a really small raise, but he was reasonable.”
Explanation: Something that gives you power in a negotiation.
“The supermarket chain really wanted that land, but the owner didn’t give in easily. He had a lot of leverage because the position was ideal.”
Phrases You Can Use During a Negotiation
After reading about the negotiation process, it is very important to learn what to say and when to say it. You can do that by learning some essential phrases to help you out in certain turning points of negotiations.
Beginning the Negotiation and Setting the Agenda
The way you start a discussion is extremely important because it sets the tone for the entire negotiation. It is important to be diplomatic (polite) and efficient at the same time so that you can maximize your outcome. People generally start negotiations by agreeing on the agenda. The agenda consists of all the important points that need to be discussed. You can use the following phrases to start a negotiation.
9. Let’s start by having a look at the agenda.
10. Before we begin, shall we have a look at the main points on the agenda?
11. Should we have a look at the main points for today’s discussion?
Listening and Asking for Proposals
In a negotiation, it is sometimes more important to listen to what the other party has to say than to start by asking for what you want to get out of the negotiation. Be ready to listen and take notes—your partner will appreciate your ability to listen, and you may get a lot of important information you can later use! Ask your partner to give you details about what they want by using any of the following phrases.
12. What are your views on…?
13. Do you have any suggestions for…?
14. Would you like to suggest a course of action for…?
15. How do you feel about…?
Making Suggestions and Proposals
Suggestions and proposals may be presented at any point during negotiations. If you have a proposal to make, you can introduce it by using these phrases:
16. We think the best way is to…
17. We propose/recommend that…
When the negotiation reaches deadlock, someone has to come up with solutions. It is really important to keep your mind open and also help your partner see things through different perspectives. Both of these will help the negotiation to be effective.
18. I’d like to suggest a solution.
Arguing for Proposals and Views Presented
After you suggest solutions, it is crucial to support them with arguments. If the arguments are sound and presented coherently (clearly), you stand much higher chances of getting what you want out of the negotiation. Introduce your arguments with phrases like:
19. The most important reason for this is…
20. I am basing my solution on three ideas/points/reasons: Firstly,… Secondly,… Last but not least,…
21. One of the key reasons for this is…
Agreeing with Proposals
When your partner presents an acceptable suggestion, you can express your agreement by using any of the following phrases:
22. I agree with your suggestion.
23. I think your proposal is acceptable.
24. That sounds great to us.
Disagreeing with Proposals and Giving Reasons for Disagreement
Disagreeing is one of the most difficult things to do: You don’t want to offend your partner, but it is important to let them know when you are not on the same page. You can disagree by using a diplomatic tone if you introduce your concerns like this:
25. I have some reservations about…
26. Unfortunately, our position is different from yours.
27. I’m afraid we can’t agree on…
When you simply cannot get everything you want, you will need to meet your partner halfway. Here are some ways to express you are willing to accept some terms in exchange for others:
28. We might be able to work on…, if you could…
29. We could offer you…, if you think you can agree on…
30. Offering you… is the best we can do right now. However, we’d need your approval on…
31. In exchange for…, would you agree to…?
Whenever you feel your partner is being vague or ambiguous (imprecise or uncertain), it is extremely important to clarify things on the spot. Otherwise, the negotiation may take the wrong direction and it may be too late to set the record straight. So play it safe and clarify details early on by using any of these phrases:
32. Let me make sure I got your point.
33. I’m not sure I understood your position. Could you please tell me again how you feel about…?
34. I just want to make sure I got this part straight.
Before you end the negotiation, it is always a good idea to recap (review or go over again) the main points you agreed or disagreed on. Here are some things you could say:
35. Let’s look at what we decided to do.
36. Shall we try to sum up the main points of our discussion?
37. Let’s sum this up really quickly to make sure we are on the same page.
Once you learn some basic vocabulary to help you with negotiations, you will feel much more confident about getting what you want.
The more you prepare, the higher your chances of success!
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