You might have a great idea for a worthy project, but it could go nowhere if you don’t convince your superiors to go along with it or a financial institution to help you get it off the ground. You can put together a meticulous report, pitching your idea and citing every detail, but the reality is that your target audience may never read it because its sheer volume is daunting. An executive summary condenses the report into a succinct overview, bringing the most important information to the forefront -- literally. It’s a separate document that goes along with your report, placed right in the front.
Goal of the Summary
The ultimate goal of an executive summary is that it will win over your audience before the reader even gets to your report or if he doesn’t want to read the whole thing. It shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of the length of your report, and in no case more than 10 pages. You want your reader to be able to get through it without investing a lot of time that he may not have at his disposal. Make your writing as compelling as possible because this may be your only chance to state your case if your audience doesn't read on to the details contained in your report. Your every sentence has value -- each one should pique your reader’s interest.
Highlighting the Report
Write your report first. As you read it over, make note of the most important information in each section. You’ll want to devote a section of your summary to each of the sections already contained in your report. The sections should appear in the same order so your reader can easily find more in-depth information if he’s interested. Devote a few sentences -- at most a paragraph -- to each section, explaining the information you’ve chosen to highlight. Avoid repeating the same statements you made in the report -- put a new spin on the information.
Consider Your Business Idea
Depending on your project, the sections of your report -- and, by extension, your summary -- will differ. You’ll want to begin with an introduction and end with a conclusion, both of which should serve as bookend sales pitches. But the meat of your report and summary will be dedicated to your specific project.
If you’re asking for funding for a project, your report will include a section giving details about your company and a mission statement, both of which should be reduced to a few lines in your summary. Another section of the report might be dedicated to a financial statement. Use your summary to give bottom line figures without the details and state what financing you need from your reader.
If your goal is to merchandise a new product, your report should include a description of your market research and your findings, so devote a section of your summary to trimming this information down to manageable readability as well.
Promoting a Policy Idea
If your project involves making policy changes, your report may include an explanation of the issue at hand, your suggestions, research that helped you arrive at your suggestions and considerations for implementation. You would not have to include a section that highlights your finances, but it should still address costs if your change is going to involve some expense to the company or institution. State your projected dollar amount in the summary and devote a sentence or two to explaining why it’s so important that the company make this expenditure. You can also make suggestions as to where the funding might come from.
- Photo Credit AmmentorpDK/iStock/Getty Images
Definition of "Executive Summary"
When compiling a lengthy report for work, it is often necessary to include an executive summary at the beginning. The executive summary...
How to Format an Executive Summary
An executive summary is typically the first section of a business plan, report or project, and serves to summarize all of the...
How to Write a Military Executive Summary
A military executive summary is like a tactical operation: well-planned, sharp and to the point. Assume that the majority of your readers...
How to Write an Executive Summary Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a document that details how a business plans to persuade people to buy its products or services. The...
What Is an Executive Summary Report?
An executive summary report is a condensed version of a longer report. Executive summaries are usually included in the beginning of the...
How to Write an Executive Report in Summary Format
When you are an executive, you'll be asked to write executive reports. And if you need to write one in a summary...
How to Write an Executive Report
An executive report is not only important for documentation and internal business communication, but is also crucial for top decision-makers to assess...
How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Report
Every research report should include an executive summary which sums up the key points of the report in a nice, concise package...
How to Format Executive Summaries
An executive summary presents the most important points related to a particular topic. It is a short document and usually presented to...
How to Make an Executive Summary
The executive summary is quite possibly the most crucial part of a successful business plan. While different prospective reviewers of the plan...
How to Write a Financial Executive Summary
Writing a business plan is a necessary step to secure funds to start or maintain a business. One of the most important...
Difference Between Executive Summary & Introduction
The executive summary and introduction are two parts of a company's business plan. An executive summary is the full business plan --...