Writing an Executive Summary
The executive summary is found at the beginning of longer, more detailed business proposals. It is generally not more than 10% of the original document.
For example, if your proposal is five pages long, the executive summary would not be more than half a page. Here are some guidelines to writing an executive summary:
- The executive summary is not written until AFTER the body of the proposal is written.
- Start with a concise statement that contains the conclusion, and then follow the same organization in the summary that is in the proposal. In longer summaries, you might want to include sub-headings. If you do, make sure they are the exact same sub-headings found in the proposal.
- Avoid the use of unnecessary technical language or jargon in the executive summary. This part of the document should be able to be read and understood by anyone, not just the primary audience.
- The summary is based on the proposal; therefore, all the facts mentioned must match the detail in the proposal and be accurate.
- Do not mention any of the process or analysis that leads to conclusions made in the proposal. Those details are for the proposal, not the executive summary.
- Near the end of the executive summary are the recommendations or calls to action that match those of the proposal.
- There should be a justification for the recommendation included in the executive summary. This might be a simple statement about increased profit or productivity, or it can be more complex, providing some, but not much, discussion of why the writer reached this conclusion.
Keep in mind that the executive summary's purpose is to sell the ideas presented in the proposal, not to describe them. You need to grab the reader's attention and compel him or her to read the entire proposal, not just the summary. Show the reader through the summary that there is a big problem either existing or coming that your proposal will resolve.