We have all read myriad reports, indeed some of us will have also written a fair few. But what makes a really good one?
A really good report is:
Engaging - a page turner
Informative - gives you facts you did not know
Insightful - enables you do gain insights you otherwise would not have had
I know from personal experience that distilling your thinking down to one message - the governing thought - is the way to communicate effectively. And to chunk the logic supporting that thought into digestible pieces is the way in which you can communicate your argument effectively to a human being, since that is the way their short-term memory works, and it it is their short-term memory that manages the input of data for processing in the brain.
Pyramid Thinking is the approach I have adopted to create proposals and propositions. It works. But what happens if your report is an exploration of an area and has multiple candidate governing thoughts?
The answer is that you need to use an extension of the approach - a nested Pyramid.
This starts with the main question your audience is asking of you, and its answer - the primary governing thought. This then will raises a next logical question - you then give its answer and why it is true. This can then raise a next logical question....and so on as you traverse the domain you are reporting on.
An example could be:
Is there going to be a market for autonomous electric vehicles?
Answer: yes - and it will be x big because.....
What will need to change to enable this to happen?
Answer: Infrastructure, and legal and insurance frameworks
Who will the big players be?
Answer: Those who can exploit the opportunities in sectors x,y, and z
What will make them successful?
Answer: Critical success factors
This nested Pyramid structure allows the reader to follow a natural and logical pathway through your report. It delivers the information and insight in an engaging way.
It is not only useful for creating the final report. If you create a draft nested Pyramid structure before you do the research for your report it will guide you to the areas you need to explore. As you learn you refine the structure and adapt your research strategy as appropriate, thus making the report the "best of all possible reports" since you will have plugged any gaps in your research before publication time.