Annual Reports: Common Mistakes


Here are some common mistakes that are made in annual reports and ways to fix them.

Hiring a writer to write the report for you. You have a distinct voice, use it.

Some CEOs choose to have the report written by someone else or they have executives help edit the annual report. By doing this, you lose the CEO’s personality and the reader’s attention. The most read part of your annual report, is the shareholder’s letter. Make sure this has the CEO’s voice and personal touches. It will feel more authentic and gives you a chance to connect with them on a real level.

Get to the point. Don’t take up 14 pages if you can communicate effectively in 7 pages.

Many readers will be short on time, they may just skim through the report. By adding too much, you take away the relevance of each section. Choose wisely and communicate effectively. Ask yourself, why would this be important to my audience? If it’s not, leave it out. Things that are important to you, may not be important to your average reader.

Not including the right information. 

When you write your annual report, you need to make sure you’re being honest about poor performance. By addressing it in the report, you are building trust with stakeholders. Include a plan to fix it so they know you’re taking steps to fix it. When highlighting financial performances, make sure they pertain to the company and not just the CEO. Keep the financial graphs and charts off of the front page. Check online to see if there are reader surveys posted about what stakeholders want to hear about the most.

Not allowing enough time to get your report done. 

Start your report at least one month prior to the end of the year, if not sooner. Make sure you’re allowing enough time between the Board of Director’s year end meeting to approve your year-end numbers and the mailing deadline so you do not incur overtime charges in film and print.

Forward thinking and change are required to make sure your annual report isn’t of little value to your stakeholders. Read award winning annual reports to get some new ideas on how to make your report one of the best.


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