Does your annual report tell a compelling story? | Photo by Ann Kilpatrick on Excio.io
Excellence! It’s what the judges are looking for, but what exactly does that mean?
Whether you’ve chosen a print, web, or video format, an excellent annual report will have some stand-out features. The report will be easy to read for the intended audience, be designed beautifully in keeping with your brand, and tell a compelling story of accomplishment and impact.
Does your report pass the ‘easy to read’ test?
Testing readability is easy to do. Take your cue from what you want as a reader! Pretend you are reading another company’s annual report, without necessarily having a lot of detailed subject knowledge. And you’re busy! What do you want? Most people say they want the content to be interesting, without jargon, buzz words, or padding. And everyone always wants to get the main points quickly.
Putting yourself in your reader’s shoes will automatically focus your energy on making your content crystal clear and readable. (Hint: the judges will be looking for familiar words, generally shorter sentences, great flow, and informative headings.)
Does your report look good?
Gone are the days of lengthy, dreary annual reports with boring covers and bland walls of text. The judges are looking for clever visual design that supports the content, brings key messages to life, and stands for who you are. (But don’t get too clever! The judges are not looking for a ‘pretty’ design that serves no particular purpose.)
Are you telling a compelling story of accomplishment and impact?
We all know that stories connect us to each other and convey the human experience. How you make your readers feel has so much to do with your report’s success.
Your stakeholders want to know what happened during the past year, and the impact you made, in as relatable a way as possible. Whether times were good or bad, your readers, and our judges, will appreciate the story — the who, what, when, why, and how — behind the numbers and activities. They want your report to pass the ‘So what?’ test!
Show how your annual report makes the grade
Think your report is a winner? Enter your annual report by 31 July.
Check out the entry criteria for the Best Plain Language Annual Report
See this handy checklist on what makes a great annual report
Be inspired by the 2021 winners
Posted In: 2022 Plain Language Awards, Annual report
Best Plain Language Annual Report, decision making, excellence, Story
Is your annual report awesome? Does it tell your story well? | Photo by Aneta Pawlik on Unsplash
Annual report. Those two little words often conjure up other words like ‘dull’, ‘heavy’, and even ‘eyes glaze over’. But not always! In selecting the best of the best, our Awards judges tend to use very different and much more positive words to describe winning entries. Words like ‘engaging’, ‘compelling’ and ‘impressive’.
So what does it take to get such accolades? Almost every winning entry over many years has inspired the judges to comment on the story told in the report. Here’s a great example from their comments on the Ryman Healthcare Annual Report 2018.
‘a strong example of how a company can take complex information and share the details both with clarity and with compelling storytelling’
‘The report tells an extremely engaging story that would undoubtedly appeal to a general reader.’
Why story? It’s easy to present data without joining the dots for readers. Stories carry messages and deliver information beyond mere numbers and facts. They answer the questions ‘so what?’ and ‘why should I care?’ Stories raise oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ hormone — we’re interested and engaged and we want more.
So if you’re proud of the story told in your annual report, yours could be the one our judges rave about this year!
Check the features of an awesome annual report below to see how yours measures up. And don’t be modest!
A checklist for Annual Report Awesomeness
|Check that your annual report:|| Yes, it's good to go!||No, it needs more work
|Tells an engaging and compelling story about relevant events, context, and trends||
|Is structured with the reader’s needs front and centre||
|Expresses complex information clearly and thoughtfully||
|Reports technical details and data in a way that keeps the reader’s attention||
|Uses an attractive design that helps tell the story||
|Is accessible to all intended audiences||
|Is memorable for all the right reasons (yes, it’s still about the story!)||
Read the entry criteria for Best Plain English Annual Report
Meet the judges for Best Plain English Annual Report
Posted In: 2021 Plain English Awards, Annual report
accountability, annual report, Best Annual Report, clear communication, transparency