How to write a great CEO report

“How to write…” video series

2 min read

The CEO’s report is possibly the most important one in a board pack. Why? Because it answers the question, “What is on my mind?” — and what’s on the CEO’s mind matters to the board.

But for the time-poor CEO — which, let’s face it, many of you are — how can you make this easier? Get the person who’s holding the pen on your report to interview you. Is that all there is to it? Not quite — read on as we unpack this seemingly innocuous question in a way that’s eye-opening and authentic.

The following is a transcript of the video.

The 2 simple (but powerful) questions your CEO report should be answering

Here’s the structure for a great CEO report. Two seemingly simple questions, but let’s unpack them.

1. What is on my mind?

The trap that any update can fall into is being a backward-looking account of what’s happened. Sure, you have to talk about past performance, but you also need to look forward. So here’s the first point to note on structure, looking back, and then looking ahead.

The second point around structure is to be unvarnished. So, as well as talking about what’s gone well, talk about what’s not gone so well. And, as you look ahead, talk about the opportunities as well as the risks and concerns: what’s keeping you awake at night? And for these key points, draw out the implications for the organisation and how you think management is responding. This brings insight to your report.

2. What are the implications for our outlook and plans?

Here, there are a couple of critical things to home in on. The first is your confidence that we’ll be able to deliver the plan, or the North Star that you’re heading towards — say what you are feeling and thinking. This brings the facts to life in a way that is accountable and candid.

And then there is the course correction: do you need to do any, given the head or tail winds that you face? Now, boards don’t like surprises, so socialise early any changes you anticipate making.

And that’s the simple structure for a great CEO report that will steer your board to the conversations that matter.

If you found this useful, check back for other videos in this series and take a look at Lucia, our management reporting platform that helps you write brilliantly clever reports that spur your business to action.

  Lucia   Write great reports, every time    A thinking and writing platform that helps you to write brilliantly clever and  beautiful reports that surface breakthrough insights and spur your business to  action. Find out more

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