Creating reports can get old, especially in December when year-end wrap ups are de rigueur. One way to make writing -- and reading -- reports less painful is to change the way you prepare them. We use a handy strategy called the What-Why-How™ to plan reports that follow a logical framework and include the right details.

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Creating a logical plan

Here's a W-W-H I created for a report on commercial real estate transactions in a Los Angeles submarket:

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I like using this strategy because it helps me think through the information in a logical way, and ensures that I include enough details that will answer questions my readers might have (see 3 Es). It also gives me an easy document to put in front of a client, colleague or anyone else who needs to review/approve. Better to get an OK now than after I've invested any more time.

Writing with the What-Why-How

The completed organizer gives me a more complete view of the information, making it easy to summarize. And that’s how this report starts. As I wrote I added more data and quotes to shore up my HOWs even more. In my pre-writing, I thought it was logical to put the Class B rents after the Class A rents section. But when I started writing, I remembered that my readers don’t really care about Class B (even though my client did), so I switched it with the Westwood section to give my audience the information it wanted sooner. The report's too long to include in this post, but you can download it here to see how it all turned out.

Bookmark this post (and Part 1, too) so you'll be ready the next time a report request lands in your inbox. (While you're at it, you can learn how to use the What-Why-How to write recommendations.)


Credit for the What-Why-How Strategy© goes to my brilliant husband, Steve Peha, president of Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc.