We’ve drafted plenty of annual reports. 

And over the years they’ve morphed from providing details about a company’s performance through graphs, tables and accounting rubric, to portraying that information with creative markers. These compelling icons keep the NPO or company in mind long after the reader finishes reviewing the report.

We sit on the board of an innovative NPO that’s out front in terms of conceptualizing its annual report, as well as information for our monthly meetings. Its use of infographics allow trustees instant snapshots of the organization’s various metrics. Moreover, they’re compelling, impart a load of information, and in sum — even fun.

With that in mind, here are some tips on producing reports that just might be read:

·  Use compelling images. We live in a glut of daily communications. Every mode wants some eye or ear time. And we only have so much to give. Today’s visual world demands creative graphics and minimal text. And don’t forget the white space!

·  Tell stories. Annual reports should reflect more than financial data, business performance and forecasts. Your staff and customers are the heart of your business. Tell some of their human interest stories replete with images.

·  Team effort. If you have the resources to use outside writers and designers that’s great. But if not, utilize the skills of more than a single person to produce the annual report. The in-house talent that often responds to a project like this can be surprising.

·  Timeline. The earlier you assemble a team and develop an outline and layout, the better your odds at producing a quality, interesting and well received annual report. An informative report can take several months to produce. Set a deadline and work towards it.