How to make your Annual Report go from good to great

Posted in IRM News

Annual Report

An annual report is a vital part of running your business. It conveys your company's beliefs and objectives. It is crucial to your organisation’s transparency and responsibility.

More than a legal requirement, an annual report is an affirmation of who you are, what you do and how you achieve. It is strategic in raising brand awareness and engaging with investors.

Gone are the long boring drafts only a few people comprehend. Annual reports are being created to appeal to stakeholders. Businesses are crafting annual reports that are properly written and visually appealing to motivate potential investors to get on board and ensure current shareholders stay on.

If producing a narrative-driven and highly visual annual report is new to you or you are looking to improve on the bland PDFs you send out each year - help is at hand.

Try these 5 easy steps to deliver an engaging annual report that incorporates financial figures with your accomplishments, as it brings to life your vision for the future.

1. Prepare ahead of time

Start early to have a well-thought-out system for managing data. Assemble all the information that will be used in the document. Aside from finances, you’ll typically need your business overview during the past year, CEO or Chairman’s Letter, Company Profile as well as Management’s Discussion and Analysis.

Compile remarkable images, charts, and graphics that will visually convey your operations. Collate details to introduce your leadership and expectations for the coming year. Include a list of your company successes, as well as statistics of projects or activities. Your quarterly reports and investor presentations are a great resource to pull from.

Annual report prepPrepare ahead of time and decide on your main message.

2. Decide on your main message

Choose the primary message that will anchor your report’s framework and brainstorm an outline to serve as its narrative thread. This will ensure all the info will flow in a pleasing and logical manner. It will also make it simpler to exclude items that will not contribute to your storyline.

Draw attention to your wins and the impact of those achievements. Dovetail those successes with your company’s goals for the period. Investors will be keen to know more about what you accomplished and why you did it.

3. Complete your storyline

Develop your storyline to tell your company’s engaging story. Write in a clear, coherent manner to deliver the data professionally and objectively. Avoid technical jargon as you address investors who may not be privy to your industry speak.

Offer quantitative facts with insights to show the effect of your business strategies. Personalise your report with photos of your management team, employees, or programs. Testimonials and individual stories will also provide context in communicating your company’s milestones.

Annual report storylineComplete your storyline and design it for engagement and readability.

4. Design for engagement and readability

Remember that your annual report is not only a compliance tool but marketing collateral as well. Make it engaging yet readable. Design it in such a way that investors would be interested to scan it and be able to extract the particulars they require.

Adopt a colour scheme and layout style that aligns with your brand. Headers and subheadings will help break up your text, while coloured text boxes and captions will highlight sections. Eye-catching visuals like photos, icons, or infographics will also enhance it to be visually appealing.

Take note of your annual report’s cover because it’s just as important as the rest of the manuscript. It’s not a last-minute afterthought with your company name and logo pasted on. Your cover design will actually serve as a preview that will invite investors to dive into its pages.

5. Make it shareable - print or online

After all the hard work organising your annual report, don’t let it go to waste with limited distribution. Consider the different ways of sharing it to expand your investor reach, whether it’s printed or in an online format. 

You probably have your annual report’s printed copies delivered through snail mail or courier service. But no need to stop there. How about posting an online version of it on your website for more visibility? You’ll provide faster and wider access to your annual report, with no geographical limits or time zone constraints.

Email investors a link to your annual report on your website, so they can easily find it and drive traffic to your site as well. Enable vital sections of your report to be downloadable, so they can spend more time reading it offline or forward it to interested parties.

Key info and graphics of your annual report can also be shared on social media. Perhaps tweet a quotation from your Chairman’s Letter or post a significant infographic about your business on LinkedIn. Be sure to include a link to your website on your posts to increase traffic to your site as you generate more followers.

Annual report print onlineMake it shareable - print or online.

Up your annual report game

This is the year for a pivotal annual report that encapsulates your business. Prepare ahead of time and decide on your main message. Complete your storyline and design it for engagement and readability. Don’t forget to make it shareable - print or online.

It’s not too late to call for help

Call the annual report design experts for your report this year. Get a comparison quote here to see just how competitive our offer stands.

Browse a selection of annual reports that we have designed for ASX-listed companies over our 20 years of service – you can view them here.

For further information, contact us on +61 2 8705 5444 or