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Writing board papers

By Mary Morel | June 2017 This article first appeared in LexisNexis’s journal, Inhouse Counsel. Board papers are a bit like dirty dishes — once you’ve finished one lot, the next lot has piled up, and the board paper round begins again. So how can you make the process simpler for yourself? If you have […]

Sum it up: how to write a summary

By Mary Morel | April 2017 A summary is a concise account of the main points in a document. Some of the terms used to describe summaries in business writing are: ‘executive summary’, ‘overview’, ‘key points’, ‘issues’ or just ‘summary’. Short and long summaries How you approach writing a summary depends on what type of […]

Why I wrote my online board paper course

By Mary Morel | February 2017 I wrote my online board paper course, Write to Govern: How to write board and committee papers so organisations could: Tailor it to suit their board paper requirements. Tailored online learning is more effective than generic training for board papers because each board’s requirements are different. A generic course […]

Structure and coherence

By Mary Morel | December 2016 How to write a board paper that flows well When you’re reporting to the board, you’re writing to inform them or help them make an informed decision. A well-structured and coherent paper covers what directors need to know in a logical order from their point of view, not yours. […]

A conversation with David Wright about strategy and board papers

By Mary Morel | November 2016 Building on a career in IBM, David Wright has worked across an amazing breadth of industry and government in Australia and globally. He specialises in working with chief executives and leadership teams to create strategies and plans. Mary Morel: Can you please give me a layperson’s definition of strategy. […]

Writing financial commentary in a board paper

By Mary Morel | October 2016 Imagine you’re writing a board paper that contains financial information. You’ve crunched the numbers, even done a graph or two, but you’ve been told by your manager that you need to write ‘commentary’. If you’re a ‘numbers’ person, words may not be your strength. Here are a few tips about […]

Writing about risk in a board paper

By Mary Morel | September 2016 Directors care about risk because if things go wrong, the consequences can be dramatic and long-lasting. Just think about the impact of the Australian census website crashing on census night, and the fallout from VW’s emission failure. All organisations share some risks in common, such as people, safety, financial, […]

Writing a background section in a board paper

By Mary Morel, August 2016 The background statement in a board paper is often seen as the easiest section of a paper to write because the information is factual and historical. But when you look more closely into what’s required in a background section, it’s not as easy as it seems. The main challenge is […]

‘Concise’ is often over-emphasised in board reporting

By Mary Morel | July 2016 Everyone wants to read concise board reports and papers, but lately I have noticed an over-emphasis on length as a criterion. For instance, I have heard about one board telling management to reduce its board pack by two-thirds, and another board setting a page limit of two pages for board and […]

Summaries in decision-making board papers

By Mary Morel | June 2016 Most board papers are short and some people argue that a summary is not necessary. I like a summary in a decision-making board paper because it lets me know what the paper is about and why the recommendation matters. (Most recommendations are at the beginning of board papers these days, […]