An executive summary (a business proposal or executive overview) concisely documents your business plan or business challenge. It should be able to stand alone, conveying the most important aspects of your business proposal in an easily digestible format.
Today, more than ever, executives are flooded with information. At any given moment, a busy executive can have on their desk an endless stream of memos, emails, reports, and documents requesting their attention. To stand out from the crowd and get noticed by the busy executive, you need to craft the executive summary of your paper so that it is concise and compelling.
A practical executive summary will inform and motivate the reader to dive deeper into the rest of your document.
Read on for more details about an executive summary and how to write one effectively.
What is an Executive Summary?
An executive summary is a concise overview of your business plan. This is the first section of your business proposal that executives, investors, or team members will read. The executive summary is usually the first section of a business plan, but it can also appear at the end of a report, following an introduction and other related material.
It is a short synopsis that highlights the report's main points and is meant to inform readers about the report’s findings and conclusions.
Why write an Executive Summary?
The benefits of an executive summary are two-fold:
Firstly, it allows readers to quickly assess whether the rest of the business plan is relevant to them – they can quickly evaluate the key points, decide what they want to read, and move on. This is useful if several executives or investors have requested your business plan.
Secondly, it allows you to craft a narrative tailored to your audience and speaks to their interests. So, even if your readers decide to read the entire business plan or proposal, they will understand it better because they have been given an overview beforehand.
A step-by-step guide to writing a compelling Executive Summary
The first thing to do is to ask yourself: Who is reading this? What are their interests? What do they want to know about my business? This will help you decide on your Executive Summary's content and tone.
Next, could you decide on the format? Most businesses write their Executive Summary in a slide or PowerPoint format. Executives or investors are accustomed to the design.
Could you decide on a headline that summarises your business? This can be a number, percentage, or statistic highlighting your key difference point. Choose the main points you want to cover in the summary and structure your Executive Summary accordingly.
An executive summary's purpose is to ensure you understand the main ideas of your writing clearly and concisely. It should be written so that a reader with only time to skim it can understand the critical points of your writing. Make sure to proofread your Executive Summary and align it with the rest of your analysis or argumentation before submitting it to an executive, board, or investors.
Some people use an executive summary as their first draft and then revise it for clarity based on feedback from readers.
What is the format of an executive summary?
Executive summary (sometimes called “summary”) is a one- to two-page overview of the main points in a written document. The purpose of the executive summary is to give readers a glance at the key issues and topics covered by the document.
The executive summary should be written first, followed by the rest of the body text elaborating on those points. In addition to summarizing a document, an executive summary can serve as a teaser for potential readers interested in reading more about the subject matter. When writing an executive summary, readers must remember that they want maximum clarity and brevity.
Avoid excessive detail and jargon — stick to high-level concepts and core ideas critical to understanding your document's content.
We recommend preparing the executive summary in PowerPoint or Google Slides format. Executives or investors are accustomed to the format.
What Information is included in an Executive Summary?
The executive summary is the first thing an executive or investor will read while looking at your business plan or proposal. A practical executive summary should include a compelling problem/challenge and recommendation.
So, what should I include in your executive summary to make it successful?
Problem (or Challenge)
The problem section of an executive summary should be concise but persuasive. This section should explain the problem to the reader without making them feel as if they are being sold something. Please keep it in a neutral tone.
The recommendation section should provide the solution to the problem, telling them why they need to invest in this idea. It must show how this solution is feasible.
A good executive summary has several vital features to support the argumentation:
- Market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Customer segments (or Sales strategy)
- Marketing strategy
- Business structure (or Organisation)
- Key financials
Of course, more than one size fits solution is needed. You can adapt our template for your purposes. Our template is fully editable.
How long is an executive summary?
Try to create an executive summary that is between 5-10% of the length of the finished document (for a report or presentation that is 20 slides or less, create a one-page executive summary).
The executive summary is often the first thing an executive or investor reads when they receive your business plan or proposal. With this in mind, making it as engaging and compelling as possible is essential.
When you write your summary, it is also essential to consider who is reading it and what they want to know. By keeping these things in mind, you can write a compelling executive summary to catch an executive's or potential investors' attention.
Executive Summary Template
in PowerPoint and Google Slides format (for subscribers)
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