Here are our tips on how to provide your reader with an unvarnished account of performance:
Start first by looking backwards and answer the questions “What went well?” and “What has not gone well?” Split them out in this way so the reader can clearly identify the bad news. For each success or challenge that you include, go beyond just outlining “what?” has happened, and also consider what drive that performance (i.e. the “why?”), the implications for the organisation (i.e. the “so what?”) and your planned response.
Most reports we see finish after looking back. However, this drives a conversation that looks in the rear-view mirror. Instead, remember to also look forwards and answer the questions “What are the opportunities?” and “What are the risks?” This demonstrates to your reader that you’re looking ahead and anticipating what’s on the horizon.
At the end of your update, be conclusive. Consider what the upshot is of everything you’ve outlined in your report. Do you need to start/stop or do anything differently? What is the impact on our outlook and plans?
Most updates we see are labelled simply “For note” or “For information”. We think that this is a wasted opportunity. Instead, think about what advice or guidance you might like from the meeting. For example: “Do you believe that our proposed risk mitigations are sufficient?” This is your opportunity to draw upon the wealth of your readers’ experience and steer the conversation in the meeting.
You can find all our bite-sized videos on the BI Academy:
You can also find our suite of best-practice templates within the BI Platform (under the “Templates” icon in the top ribbon). These provide a starter for ten on the questions likely to be on your readers’ minds for particular topics and help you to structure your thinking in a logical and robust way.