An executive summary is a brief introduction and overview of your business plan. It should describe your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights. Generally, an executive summary is relatively short, written in short paragraphs written with the target audience in mind. The target of an executive summary is for it to grab your readers’ attention and lets them know what you do and why they should read the rest of your proposal or business plan.
It is common for investors to make decisions just based on reading an executive summary, so it is crucial to get it right. Our fast-changing world does not give people the chance to waste any time trying to understand what you are trying to say; hence you must get your executive summary right. Here are a few steps on how to write an excellent executive summary.
The length of an executive summary
The length of an executive summary should be about five to ten per cent of the size of the whole report. This is according to the many books written, training seminars the people have attended as well as professional speakers.
Appropriate language is key
The most important thing you should know before you write a professional executive summary is to understand who you are addressing.
The language you use should be appropriate for your targeted audience. For example, if you are writing to a group of financiers, the language you will use will differ significantly from how you would write to a group of architects.
A brief and sweet introduction
You would want to capture your audience’s attention immediately in the opening paragraph. Like any other introduction opens with a joke to break the tension and make people attentive, an excellent introductory paragraph of an executive summary will pull your reader in and make them want to read on.
But it does mean you start with a joke. No, it would be best to stick to your strengths, considering that most audiences judge you with the first few sentences and decide whether they will move on. Don’t forget to explain who you are as an organisation and why your skills are better off to solve the problem raised in a proposal.
Your biography doesn’t have to be too long. Just your name, address, contact information, and a few of your strengths as they pertain to the business plan or project proposal.
Ensure that the summary does not stray from the material that follows it as the name suggests; it’s a summary, not a place to bring up new ideas.
Establish the need or the problem and convince the target audience that it should be solved. Once that is set, you can recommend the solution and show what the value is. Be very clear and firm in your recommendation.
Make sure you sell your organisation to the target audience in the best way possible. Ensure to note the key reasons your organisation is the perfect fit for your proposed solution. This is the point where you differentiate yourself from competitors. But don’t make it about you.
Ensure to keep the name of your client at the forefront.
Make a firm conclusion, and wrap things up without forgetting to highlight the main points.
Note that the content of your executive summary must reflect what is in the larger document of which it is part.