Stuck on how to make your report that little bit more awesome? You’re in the right place!
I’m Jon May, the team leader of Enactus Swansea and I designed the 1st place Annual Report last year. I’m also the deputy editor of the student newspaper at Swansea University and have freelanced for organisations across the globe from physics journals to computer repair magazines and toy catalogues.
Feel free to email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat or some feedback.
- Don’t worry about the design
The phrase “content is king” is so important here. Plan what you want to present and worry how you’re going to present it later. It might look pretty, but if the content is mismatched or doesn’t flow well, you’re buggered.
The biggest mistake you can make is designing it before writing the content. It’s easier to build a tailored fit design later than it is to cram content in where it shouldn’t be.
- Content, content, content
Very similar to the above, but make sure what you’re presenting doesn’t have horrific spelling or grammar mistakes. Make sure your editing program is set to English UK. There’s nothing worse than if you’ve said you “organized” something instead of “organised” it, or if you’ve put in lots of exclamation marks!!!!!!
- Choose complementary colours
If, like me, you’re a bit colour-blind, this handy website (http://colorschemedesigner.com) will help you out. Just paste in a HexDex code (Usually: #000000 format), or choose a colour on the wheel and find matching colours as easy as pie. Conflicting colours is the worst design.
- Consistency is king
Once you’ve got a set of complementary colours, develop a “house style”. This is a publishing term that literally means “how you will stay consistent”. In business, this is often referred to as the “brand/style guide”. The Enactus Worldwide house style is available here:http://www.enactusunitedstates.org/app/webroot/files/logo_guidelines_-_universities.pdf.
See how all the colours, fonts and images have specific rules on when to be used? Make sure everything is the same throughout. Jokerman font on the front and Comic Sans MS on the back, will detract from the professionalism.
- Do your research
Coming up with an amazing theme can be a bit puzzling. Staring at a blank screen won’t help. Have a look at other team’s reports and get inspiration! Don’t copy them however as you could get into legal trouble. Have a look at our report here:http://issuu.com/jonmay/docs/sifeswansea.
You can read the world cup annual reports here: http://www.sifeghana.org/nationalcompetition/samples/ (I could only find 2011 reports and on the SIFE Ghana Website. Enactus Worldwide has yet to update their website with any reports)
Have a look at flyers you get through your letterbox, look and see how they’ve designed it. Every element on there has been chosen for a reason.
- Sleep on it
Once you’ve written your content, chosen colour schemes and finished it, go to bed. Come back to it in the morning. You’ll have a slightly different view on it and that might inspire you a bit more to change it for the better.
- Get feedback
Send it to your business advisors, programme managers. Hell, even send it to me and I’ll give you some feedback if you like. Ask people what they like and dislike about it. And for goodness sake listen to it. I know it can be hard to hear all the things people dislike about it, but they’re only being honest. The judges won’t give you feedback on it, so you really need to present the best points first time around.
- Critically assess it
Is the text too long? Do you have enough pictures? Is the font all the same type and size? Keep asking yourself is it good enough? How can I improve it? Look at professional publications, such as magazines and newspapers and look at how they lay information out. Adapt the bits you like.
- Share it
There’s no point in having an amazing report if no-one can see it. We use Issuu.com, which allows the free uploading of PDF files and converts them into magazine style flip books. This can be easily embedded into your website, or a link can be shared to future business advisors and prospective members.
You can even make other teams jealous by showcasing what you’re doing on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I don’t know anything about design, help me!
A: Firstly, everyone is a designer. Just in different ways. Even if you’re not imaginative or artistic, you might be better at writing or photo editing. The best answer I can give is use the skills of your team. Find the most creative in your team and chain them to a desk.
Q: What programme do you use to make your reports?
A: I use Adobe InDesign CS6. Why? Because it’s awesome. But also because I’ve used it for so long it’s become instinct. I’m more than happy to share some of the basics, but there are a lot of online tutorials on YouTube. Beware that whilst you can get more professional results out of InDesign, it leaches your life away. It takes days to create a good report. I stayed awake for about 70 hours to get last year’s report in on time. I could have done a reasonable job in Publisher in less than half than that. And this year’s report has taken me over two weeks to compile and be approved by my perfectionist mind.
Q: How much should I write?
A: How long is a piece of string? You should write how much you feel is a comfortable amount. If you don’t write enough, you’ll annoy the judges and you’ll get questions about things you could have easily covered. Write too much and you’ll bore people. It’s a fine line. And moves in the sand depending on your audience. Do what feels comfortable for you and your passion will shine through in what you write.
Q: Why did you write tips for other teams who you’ll compete against?
A: I had a few people ask me for some tips and whilst obviously we’re aiming to reclaim our number one title, I think the spirit of Enactus isn’t all about who’s better than whom and I’d rather you learn something from me and beat me fair and square, than me hoarding my knowledge away and Swansea win but not in good sportsmanship.
A: Alright, that was a funny word to use, but the point I was trying to make is that Enactus is all about empowerment. If I can bestow my knowledge and empower you guys, even in a little way, I’ve held true to the concept of Enactus, which is about knowledge sharing and entrepreneurship.
Q: I’ve still got questions
A: I’ll try and help in any way I can, but for obvious reasons I’m not going to design it for you (at least not without some large transfer of money!) but will give critical feedback on what you’ve got.
Q: When’s the report due?
A: If you want to enter the Bernard Hodes Award, you need to email it to Emma Millard (email@example.com) by close of business (which is before midnight, just to add) of Wednesday 10th April.
Read the original blog post by Jon here: http://enactus-swansea.co.uk/tips-to-creating-an-awesome-annual-report/