Guest Post by Simki Dutta Your team and you have spent sleepless nights researching a client and making prospecting calls. After getting the initial nod, you worked on the consulting proposal and managed to win the client over. Now, it’s time for the final lap — the consulting report. This is where you will be expected to demonstrate your expertise and present top-notch advice to the company, helping them take a decision. Let’s take a look at six ways to write a detailed, well-structured, and impactful business consulting report. 1. Design the cover page Cover pages are like teasers — it’s the first thing clients see and is likely to set the tone for the rest of the report. A dull and boring cover page won’t manage to reel the client in the way a well-designed one with a powerful headline will. The purpose of the cover page is to communicate the core message of the report. Use a simple layout with a bold font while staying true to the client’s brand colors. You should also use an image or two to reflect the industry or brand. In addition to the title, make sure you include key details such as: Your consultancy’s name and details Client company’s name Date of submission 2. Plan the structure Before you get down to organizing your research and writing the report, it’s important to plan the outline first. Doing this lets you establish a structure and ensure a logical flow of information. There needs to be a smooth transition from one point to the next, enabling the client to grasp the content with ease. Here’s the basic outline of a business consulting report: Table of contents — enlists every section of the report along with their page numbers Executive summary — concise overview of the report, touching upon the main points Introduction — introduces the business problem and the purpose of the report Background — offers contextual information on the client, business situation and competitors Methodology — elaborates on the methods used to analyze the problem Analysis and Recommendations — evaluates the findings and offers recommendations Conclusion — summarizes the evaluations and solutions Appendix — provides supporting material such as questionnaires, raw data, etc. 3. Write a valuable executive summary Like it or not — not everyone will read the entire report but if there’s one section that’s going to be read by all stakeholders, it’s the executive summary. The executive summary is meant to provide an overarching description of the report. From the company overview and business problem to your findings, analysis and recommendations, the executive summary needs to encompass all these points in a concise manner. Being the most crucial section of the consulting report, it’s important to make this part impactful and easy to consume. You can use bullet points and sub-headings to break down the monotony of text and communicate your message effectively. It’s a good idea to write the executive summary after writing the entire report. That way, you can be sure you’re not missing out on any vital information. As a rule of thumb, write the executive summary such that it works well as a standalone document too. 4. Offer actionable recommendations Companies work with consultants to get an outsider’s perspective on their business situation. They aim to tap into consultants’ extensive industry knowledge and obtain solutions. It’s safe to say that the main takeaway from a consulting report are the recommendations. After all, that’s what you’re getting paid for. You want the client to see your recommendations and derive value from them. Hence, it’s important to offer actionable and specific advice that the client can implement. Leverage existing information, company objectives and your findings to draft pragmatic recommendations backed by data. It’s a good idea to dedicate a one-pager section to writing the recommendations in bullet points, just in case someone wants to jump right into that section. 5. Incorporate compelling visuals Data fatigue is real. Considering the amount of data you will be presenting in your report, it’s important to present it in a manner that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. The right use of visuals helps you communicate your message effectively while highlighting the main takeaways. Incorporate compelling visuals in the form of graphs, charts, infographics, icons, text boxes, images, maps, color blocks, and more. While designing the report, make sure you stick to a consistent color scheme and typography, resulting in a professional-looking and cohesive report. 6. Avoid corporate jargon “We recommend maintaining synergy and team collaboration within quantum organizations…” No one talks like this and you shouldn't either. You don’t want to crowd the report with complicated industry jargon that leaves the client confused. Using jargon and overused sales phrases is a terrible writing habit — it distracts readers and prevents them from getting invested in what you have to say. Keep it simple, write like a human being, and you’re bound to get your message across more clearly. Conclusion With all the work you’ll be putting into doing research, planning and writing, you save design time by turning to consulting report templates and creating a professionally designed report. While you might have solid recommendations to offer, what’s equally important is knowing how to present that information, make sense of data and package it such that it leaves the client impressed. Simki Dutta is a content marketer at Venngage, a free infographic maker and design platform. When she's not working, she can be found refreshing her Twitter feed and binge-watching Netflix shows.