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May 29, 2013

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Comments

Jennifer

If you are lucky enough to be writing mainly for one executive, know your executive and what they want to see.

Have someone who cares a lot less than you write the summary - one thing I see hurting summaries is having people (including me!) with a lot invested in the writing being unable to let even one little beloved detail go. A little distance can give a lot of perspective.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Jennifer, great suggestion. Thanks!

Lynn

Jeannette Paladino

The executive summary is not the table of contents but you still might put the page number next to each of your main points. A CEO might want to go directly to the recommendations, for example.

James Venis

Oh, I like Ms. Paladino's idea!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Jeannette. I agree with James. That's an excellent idea!

Lynn

Mafuzur Rahman

Can you help me any suggest?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Mafuzur. I may be able to help you with suggestions. Do you have a specific question?

Lynn

Diane

I advise people to put what matters most into their executive summaries. Writers should highlight only the most interesting, startling, unique or important points in the paper. For example, if a report has 10 findings, don't pop them all into the executive summary in a bland list. Identify the top three findings and hit them hard in the executive summary. This way, the writer most likely will compel the reader to read on. If a reader doesn't read the whole report, he or she at least gets the major points.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Diane. Thanks for your excellent suggestion.

I agree that important points belong in the executive summary. I can think of situations, though, where interesting, startling, or unique points might pull the summary in an unusual direction.

I like your closing sentence. We definitely want the reader to get the major points from our executive summary.

Thanks for sharing.

Lynn

S Sunil Kumar

Hi Lynn, thanks for the article. it is of great help. if i have to evaluate an executive summaries or commentaries, what could be the major parameters which can be used for evaluation?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, S Sunil Kumar. Your question sounds like one a professor would ask.

I would evaluate an executive summary the same way I would evaluate any type of business writing. For example, I would ask:

It is clear? It is concise? Does it meet the readers' needs?

Lynn

jan

if i may ask what executive summary report should not contain?

Maria

Jan,

The one topic that I have read consistently on various websites, is that the Executive Summary should never contain numbers or figures for the desired budget. What I read is that the CEO or potential investor sees that number and it sticks in their minds throughout the presentation; sometimes a decision has already been formed before the presentation has been completed, based on the dollar figure, and not on the positive qualities and potentials of what is being proposed. Hope this helps.

Maria

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Jan,

The key to what doesn't belong is this: The executive summary is a SUMMARY. Don't include anything that doesn't help to summarize the document.

Please review the common mistakes in my article above. They include a couple of examples of things that do not belong in executive summaries.

Lynn

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Maria,

Thank you for responding to Jan.

You are correct that in a persuasive document, you may decide not to include a dollar amount in the executive summary. The reasoning, as you suggest, is that the reader needs to appreciate what the dollars will create or buy before knowing the exact dollar amount.

Yet it depends on the reader and the purpose of the document. Some readers want to know at the beginning whether the request is for $20,000 or $200,000. And in some documents, the purpose is not to persuade but to inform. For example, the purpose might be to explain to the reader how the $200,000--which has already been approved--will be spent.

Because of the many documents that may include an executive summary, I would not suggest that the summary should NEVER contain numbers for the desired budget. It depends.

Thanks again for commenting.
Lynn

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