For a journalist writing an article, a Q&A format can come across as lazy; however, for an annual report audience consisting of stakeholders, analysts, providers, and (potential) employees, it can prove beneficial in several ways:
- A Q&A report helps convey depth of your company’s entire management team vs. the commentary from only the chief executive.
- It allows your senior management to demonstrate their knowledge of the company by addressing specific stakeholder questions.
- Your company can tailor questions to represent the united perspective of the entire leadership management team.
- Targeted questions can illustrate reader opinions in a way that is both expansive and thorough.
- Including a Q&A can convey a sense of company strength and unity from the stakeholder’s perspective.
- It enables the reader to scan for the most helpful information without having to delve into the entire letter to stakeholders.
Here are some recommendations for optimizing your annual report’s Q&A section:
Include photos of the individuals answering the questions. This helps the reader “put a face to a name” and allows them to develop a better sense of the executive who is providing the information.
- Ensure that there is a balance of questions (e.g. financial, operational, developmental, etc.) so that the answers represent a diverse range of individuals reading the report.
- The section should not include more than three questions per interviewee. Short, direct, highlighted questions can be better addressed with more detailed answers. If several interviewees, one question per individual is best.
- The questions should be graphically highlighted to pique readers’ interest as well as ensure optimal readability and aesthetic design.
- Keep answers succinct—this will keep the reader interested and informed.
- Q&A should read as conversational, yet maintain an intellectual tone throughout.
For more information on designing a high-quality annual report, read "The Importance of a Well-Designed Annual Report."