Pitfalls to Avoid When Creating Your Annual Report
What does an annual report contain? Facts, stats, and financial numbers. This blend is what readers expect. A perfect report has the right balance of each. The quality of the report is determined by the information available to the readers and stakeholders.
As organizations increasingly shifting towards digital-smart reports, more of these reports are available online. Naturally, it becomes increasingly important that the report contains precisely what needs to be said, and is readable in its printed version.
In this article, we will list out the pitfalls to avoid when preparing your organization's annual report.
1. Failing to add a personal touch
The first and foremost thing readers look for in an annual report is the CEO's or stakeholder’s letter. A perfect letter sets the tone for the rest of the report. Usually, the mistake committed here is to make it fit for the report. In these cases, the letter is generally trimmed or edited and, unfortunately, loses that personal touch. In most cases, if the CEO is not the writer, the letter reflects the touch of the person who is writing the report or the one who is reviewing it.
It's always better if the CEO writes the shareholder's letter. If that's not the case, the writer has to find the CEO's distinct voice and reflect it perfectly on the letter perfectly fit the needed tone of the report.
2. Failing to make precise contents
Most readers have limited time to read your annual reports. Typically, not every word in the report is read. And significantly, if the copy's front end is muddled, it adds unnecessary length and discourages readers from reading the report altogether.
To this end, design and develop content for the reports to be brief and succinct. Simple language and a user-friendly layout make the report easy to navigate and understand. Precise headlines, sharp quotations, and suitable images will add the necessary essence to the excellent report. Add charts, infographics to represent numbers, and make sure no information is repeated.
Annual report making software like Archarina’s ArcAnnualReport will provide you with options to add infographics and create excellent report layouts.
3. Failing to add significance
Annual reports have differing sections, and signifying the importance of one particular part of the report to the reader is something organizations can fail to do. Choosing what to add and what to remove is the most difficult decision to make as there is a need to use the available short space in the report efficiently. Therefore, having the most significant sections that add value to the readers is essential.
Too much irrelevant information and narratives in the report make it difficult to read. Likewise, the section you think is important need not attract the audience from the get-go. Therefore, adding a clear note insisting the relevance and importance of the section will readily attract your audience.
4. Failing to create targeted contents
Over time, the audience for your annual reports and how they read them has evolved. The need for governance and sustainability in the reports has brought annual reports a long way from just being another printed document. Employees, partners, subscribers, financial analysts, and investment advisors are now part of the long list of interested readers, so failing to address them separately is a common mistake found in many annual reports.
Annual reports are for everyone, but addressing your most important audience is necessary. The degree of interaction with the reader group you value the most is vital, and you should craft content tailored towards them.
5. Failing to answer basics
Failing to limit the information to the necessary things and providing descriptions that lengthen the copy will quickly bore readers.. Find the right balance between necessary and unnecessary, making sure you don't leave out any critical information.
Don’t forget to answer the following questions in your report:
Annual reports are a work-in-progress. Take it slow and hop the pitfalls one-by-one to make the perfect report vs. another digital sheet of information. An annual report-making software like Archarina’s ArcAnnualReport will help you evade all the common report-making mistakes and craft your perfect yearly report.