An executive summary (also known as a management summary) is a brief document or piece of a longer document created for business objectives. It often comprises a quick explanation of the principal document(s)' problem or suggestion, background information, a succinct analysis, and important findings. Executable executive summaries are useful tools for getting ideas across quickly and effectively.
An effective executive summary should:
Be written to be read rather than read to be written
Include both factual information and opinions based on that information
Be written in an easy-to-understand style
Be written to meet specific needs/objectives
Contain sufficient detail to be useful
Be concise without being cryptic
Not give away proprietary information
Be consistent in style and format
Reflect any external links provided in the main body of the report
Show how the report fits into the larger picture
Summarize available options and what might happen if they are not taken forward
Point out challenges and risks associated with proposed options or strategies
Suggest solutions to these problems or ways to mitigate them
An executive summary is a detailed review of a research report or other form of document that summarizes essential aspects for its readers, saving them time and preparing them to grasp the full content of the study. Executive summaries are usually between 100 and 500 words long.
They are often used by management consultants to make their reports accessible to clients who may not have time to read the entire document. Because they are short, they can be used to give viewers an overview of the major points covered in the study.
Executive summaries should include:
A one-line summary of the main conclusion(s) of the report.
A brief description of the key findings of the report.
An explanation of how these conclusions/findings impact the reader.
Often, the executive summary is presented first, followed by the rest of the report.
It increases the chances of getting paid!
The best part is that you can write your own executive summary and sell it as your own product! I'll discuss how to do this later in the article.
So what is the difference between an executive summary and a summary paragraph? An executive summary is usually only one paragraph long while a summary paragraph may be longer.
The executive summary is often ordered in accordance with the order of the chapters or parts of the report that it summarizes. The executive summary should be prepared in such a way that it can be read independently of the rest of the report. It must not make numerical references to figures, tables, or references found elsewhere in the report. Instead, it should state generally what those other parts show and/or say.
A reference may be made to specific pages within the body of the report for further information. For example, if there is discussion of statistical analyses performed, then this could be referenced by saying "page 14 shows that..." or "figure 3 on page 20 compares X and Y."
In addition, the executive summary may include a brief conclusion stating the main findings of the report and recommendations for future action. This part of the summary should be concise and clear. It should not contain detailed explanations of how the study was done or detailed descriptions of its methodology. These things will appear in the technical appendices or in footnotes.
If necessary, the executive summary may be edited by a person who is not involved in its preparation. However, the editor must ensure that the summary does not contain statements that are false, misleading, or lacking in clarity. For example, an executive summary containing the words "no evidence" when evidence exists would be unacceptable. Similarly, an executive summary referring to research that has not been done would be inaccurate and harmful.
What is a good example of a business plan executive summary? A business plan executive summary is a quick, positive description of the company that appears at the top of your business plan. It is typically two pages long and provides two-sentence summaries of each aspect of the strategy. The goal of the executive summary is to grab the attention of key decision makers by presenting the project in a compelling way.
The best executive summaries present the project as an opportunity for success rather than as a risk. They should also include how the project will benefit the client. For example, one executive summary I reviewed started with these sentences: "John's Auto Repair is in need of a makeover. With just a little effort on our part, we can have a huge impact on our reputation within the community. By writing a brief summary describing what makes us different from our competitors, this plan will help attract new customers and keep those we have now."
A poor executive summary would be one that does not give enough information about the project to be useful. For example, a summary that reads like a list of topics to be covered in greater detail later is not going to do much to get support for the project.
It's important to note that not all projects require an executive summary. Some project types (such as strategic plans or vision statements) are written at a higher level of detail than others (such as annual reports).
An executive summary should summarize the report's main points. It should restate the goal of the study, emphasize the key themes, and summarize any findings, conclusions, or recommendations from the report. It should be no longer than one page. If necessary, you can divide this executive summary into several sections or subheads.
An effective executive summary allows the reader to quickly understand the key messages in the report while still giving them sufficient detail to make informed judgments about the report as a whole. To create an effective executive summary, start by understanding the purpose of the report itself. What question does it seek to answer? What are the main points that need making? How will they benefit the reader? Only then can you write an executive summary that successfully communicates these things.
The first thing to do when writing an executive summary is to decide what kind of document you are creating. Are you taking notes on what was said during the report process? Did someone else write the full report? If so, who? Using this information, you can draft a narrative that explains how the report came to be written, what it found, and what actions were taken based on the report's findings. This narrative can be included at the beginning of the executive summary or spread over multiple pages if there is much material to cover.