3. Good annual reports are distinctive in terms of language and expression used. One has to learn the skill of narrating even routine developments in a forceful manner.
4. Avoid using long sentences and combining several developments. Make the sentences brief and specific.
Given below is a verbatim reproduction of an opening sentence in a directors’ report of a nationalized bank.
“The satisfactory performance of the Indian economy during the year 1994-95 bears testimony to the inner strength of the fundamentals of the Indian economy to imbibe and* digest structural changes emanating from the reform process after successfully negotiating transitional bottlenecks on the background of a stagnant growth rate of 4.3 per cent for the previous years.”
The sentence is so complex and winding. In fact, it is a maze of thoughts. The writer has made it too difficult for the reader to comprehend so many developments, and that too in the opening sentence of the report.
5. Ensure proper grouping of various sub-heads under each main heading like business growth, profitability, HRD, international operations and subsidiaries.
6. Check the correctness of all figures, amounts and dates. If the figures are to be repeated under different columns, it should be ensured that they all agree with each other, and that there are no inconsistencies.
7. While reporting of relevant figures and ratios is inevitable for any such report, too many figures, repetitive ratios and percentages running into several decimals tend to hinder readability and comprehension. Wherever appropriate, figures should be rounded off.
8. In quoting figures relating to economic environment, industry-related progress and market developments, authenticity of the figures should be ensured. Further, the data quoted should be the most up-to-date. Stale data are best avoided, unless they are absolutely relevant.
These are some of the general guidelines. As one develops proficiency, there is considerable scope to make annual reports innovative and appealing. It would be a good idea to scan model reports or reports of organizations which are generally widely acclaimed.
With conscious effort and attention to all the relevant areas, annual reports can become not only informative and enlightening, but also aesthetically appealing. Business communication can indeed find a very meaningful expression in imaginatively brought out annual reports.