I was this close … this close … to completing my latest blog
post, a follow-up to last week’s about the service internal audit provides to its
customers. But I kept having trouble getting
Today, I sat working through what I thought would be the
final attack on the beast, when it hit me.
I was boring myself.
There is an excellent piece of advice about writing that
comes from essayist and psychotherapist Adam Phillips: “You just have to be able to notice when you
are boring yourself.”
How many times have you gone back for the first (second,
third, 12th, 57th) rewrite of a report, looked at the words on the
screen, and just wanted to go join the marketing department rather than have to
read it again?
It’s your product, your baby, the culmination of your hours
of audit work, and you can’t stand to read the report.
Imagine how your clients — the ones who are going to be
subjected to the results — feel when they see its massive bulk looming on the
And don’t try to tell me “It’s an audit report; of course it’s
boring.” If you have a compelling story
to tell, then the report should be compelling.
And if you don’t have a compelling story, then there are far
more important and potentially disturbing questions that need to be asked. Why isn’t the story of your audit compelling? Are the findings not compelling? Then why are you reporting them? Are the overall results not compelling? Then what did you do wrong during the audit? And, if the audit itself is not compelling, then why did you do it in the first
Everything we do should be based on a certain amount of
excitement — excitement about the subject, excitement about the results,
excitement about being a part of the solution. And when that isn’t the case — when we bore ourselves with the reports
we are writing — then we have to dig deep and find what is missing.
I swear I’m going to finish the follow-up blog post that I
couldn’t get done today because I believe there is something important that
needs to be said. But I can’t guarantee it
will excite you, just as I can’t guarantee this post, or prior posts, or any future
posts will excite you. All I can do is make
sure that they don’t bore me, with the hope that this means you will not be
And all you can do is everything possible to ensure your
next audit report is compelling enough to keep you interested and, with any
luck, keep your clients excited about what it is you have to say.