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What Are the Best Tips for Writing an Executive Summary?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 June 2014
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An executive summary is typically the first section in any business plan, proposal or financial report. It offers the main point of the entire document and acts as a persuasive statement to encourage people to read the whole report. Before putting together this section, writers should consider their audience, which may be made up of investors or the average customer. Another point to consider is that the beginning and end of the summary are some of the most important parts, so it is helpful to pay particular attention to these areas. The rest of the executive summary should typically be made up of a few sentences from each section of the document.

Many executive summaries are meant to convince readers that the business, whether new or existing, is valuable, but writers should consider to whom they are speaking. For example, if they are trying to obtain a loan from investors, then they should tailor the executive summary to such readers, with the goal of showing why the company is worth an investment. If, on the other hand, the document is aimed at getting customers to give the business a chance, then the summary should typically show how they would benefit from choosing this company over those with similar products or services. Of course, the document itself should be written for the same audience as the summary.

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The beginning and the end of executive summaries are usually considered to be among the most important parts, so extra attention should be given to them. Once the audience has been determined, the first sentence should grab the attention of the readers, because they will likely want to know why they should give this business a chance. If the business is associated with any major brands or celebrities, or has won prestigious awards, this information can be mentioned near the beginning of the executive summary to obtain the interest of readers. Once this is done and the rest of the summary is written, a request should be made toward the end. This tells readers what the business owner aims to get out of the document, such as a particular dollar amount to fund the company.

In most cases, the best way to complete a high-quality executive summary is to write it last, because this allows the writer to pull one or two sentences from each part of the document and summarize it easily. In most cases, this means the first few sentences after the initial attention grabber should explain the problem, as well as why the business in question has the answer. In addition, writers usually find that it helps to explain why taking action now is important, because this gives a sense of urgency to readers so they are persuaded to read the entire document and follow through with what the writer is asking. The write can then summarize other sections of the document, keeping in mind that the summary should be no more than two pages.

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