What makes a knock-out annual report?

We’ve worked on hundreds of reports of all shapes and sizes in our time, and seen all the pitfalls and opportunities when it comes to sharing your business’s story. Here are a few tried and tested tips that could help your Annual Report shine this year.

Ten tips for brilliant Annual Reports

1. Keep it simple. Investors quickly lose interest in an annual report that’s stuffed full of compliance, rather than the information they really need and want to know. If you want your report to be engaging, functional and easy to understand, balance the need for disclosure with the need for design and information flow simplicity.
2. Put your strategy first. Get straight to the point, because many readers might not get past those first few pages. Find a way to wrap your introduction and conclusion together by illustrating your goals, performance indicators and strategic priorities. Summing it up first creates a clear narrative to hang the entire report on.
3. Create highlights for every section. Make your milestone achievements stand out, and summarise your performance in each area of the business.
4. Stick to plain English. Avoid business jargon, filter out the accounting and legal language, explain acronyms and illustrate complex ideas with examples. You want to minimise the effort your reader has to make to understand what you’re talking about.
5. Tell your story visually. Use infographics, charts, tables and call out text or quotes to create pages that are a pleasure to scan and compelling to read. If it’s online, it’s also relatively inexpensive to build in video or animation.
6. Break up the text with statistics and quotes. Short, relevant and interesting stories, case studies, quotes and statistics can get your message across more quickly than endless paragraphs of text.
7. Cut the clutter. Your first draft is never your last. Find ways to eliminate repetition, and be ruthless with information that adds no value for the reader. For example, do you really need to repeat those policies from last year, or can you write ‘see our website for more information’? Less clutter means more impact.
8. Consider multiple platforms. Many annual reports are now read online, on an iPad or on a smartphone. So think about the brevity of information you’d need on a small screen, and how you can get the essential messages across in different ways.
9. Who’s in control? As you can see by now, you really need one person in your organisation to manage the entire process and ensure everyone sticks to a clear document strategy. Compiling an annual report is a collaborative effort, but it can end up being a mish mash of writing styles and ideas, with no consistent train of thought.
10. Start now! Simplicity suffers under deadline pressures, so make sure you plan ahead for your annual report. Review your competitors’ reports, and think about a theme that describes your performance that year and your vision for the future. Then you can turn to the experts to create a professional and engaging design that tells your story with style.
Struggling to get your Annual or Investor Report off the ground? Ideaseed can bring your ideas to life, whether it’s in a printed document, an interactive digital report or a magazine-style app.