Das Portal von Handelsblatt und WirtschaftsWoche

Write that down

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von Business Spotlight
Wie versetzt man Kollegen in den Tiefschlaf? Indem man ihnen einen strunzöden Bericht zu lesen gibt - voller Bandwurmsätze, Angeberwörter und Passivkonstruktionen. Dabei ist guter Stil so einfach, findet Englisch-Experte Ian McMaster
Reports are not the most exciting part of business life. However, they are an essential means of sharing information. There are annual company reports, sales reports, reports prepared as background information for meet?ings, reports on business trips or visits to trade fairs, research reports and so on.Reading such reports is often difficult and boring - even in one's own language. In a second language, it is more difficult still. As well as reading reports in English, how?ever, many German-speakers in interna?tion?al companies also have to write reports in English. This may seem like an impossible task. But if you follow certain basic rules - which apply in any language - you will improve your technique.

Die besten Jobs von allen

Think about your readers. Who is going to read your report? What do you want them to learn from it? What do they want, and need, to learn?Think about your style. Most reports should be neither very formal nor very informal. Try to develop a simple, neutral style of writing.Keep it short. Reports can communicate information only if they are read. Short reports are much more likely to be read than longer ones. Include only the essential information - not everything you know about the subject or everything that has happened at a meeting or conference.Structure your report. A clear layout is essential, with space between paragraphs and sections. Keep your paragraphs short. Your report should have a logical system of headings and sub-headings. Use bullet points to list individual proposals or comments. Alternatively, when listing points, write: "First, ...", "Second, ...", "Third, ..." and then, "Finally, we ...". In a long report, there should be a contents list at the start.Summarize. A short overview of the subject of your report is helpful at the beginning. So is a summary of any conclusions or recommendations at the end. In longer reports, detailed information can be put into an appendix.Keep your sentences short. Look at this bad example: "During last year, we expanded our business into a number of countries in the area of Eastern Europe which has helped us to diversify our market base, and we also hope this will allow us to grow more quickly in the future." This can easily be broken down into three short sentences: "Last year, we expanded our business into Eastern Europe. This has helped us to diversify our market base. Also, we hope this will allow us to grow more quickly in the future."Use simple language. Do not write sentences such as: "We see the definite potentiality of growing our sales as a result of the impending upturn." Instead write: "Our sales should grow as a result of the coming upturn."Be active. One of the golden rules of good writing is to use the active tense as much as possible. For example, say "we have increased our marketing budgets" rather than "our marketing budgets have been increased".
However, the passive tense can be useful if you want to distance yourself from a proposal: "It was suggested that we close down our factory in Singapore."
Leave out jargon. Unless you are absolutely certain that your readers will understand specialist vocabulary, replace it with simpler, clearer words. Explain any abbreviations the first time you use them.Use verbs not nouns. Make your writing interesting by saying what has happened and who has done it. For example, instead of "The increase in advertising revenues was more than ten per cent" say "We increased our advertising revenues by more than ten per cent".Link your ideas. One of the most difficult things to do for non-native speakers is to link ideas fluently. Practise using the following words: "although" (obwohl; "Al?though this might seem to be a good option, we ..."); "in spite of" (trotz; "In spite of the difficulties at the start of the year, we ..."); and "however" (wie dem auch sei, jedoch; "This caused some problems last year. How?ever, we were quickly able to solve them").Finally, before distributing your report, read it through again and simplify it once more according to the rules above.
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 21.04.2004