An Executive Summary About Executive Summaries

WRITTEN May 23, 2017 Author: Rich Atkins

Why Write an Executive Summary?


Executives are busy. The Executive Summary will decide if your ideas get attention. The Executive Summary is your chance to tell the reader why.

  1. Know you audience.
  2. Match your writing to their wants / needs.
  3. Approach with the appropriate tone (depends on audience).

The Executive Summary is the preface of your report. It includes only major details. The longer document will contain analysis, charts, numbers, reviews, and other minutiae.

In many cases, the Executive Summary is the only thing the reader will read. Some will read the summary to decide if they want to read the rest of the report, or take further action.

The GOAL is to grab the reader’s attention – inviting her/him to read further. Determine which pieces of information are the most important. List them. These may become your paragraph headings.

  • Reduce the essence of your ideas down to a page.
  • Decide what is important, and discard nonessential info.
  • Tell your story in as few words as possible.

Executive summaries should be 1-2 pages. If you can’t tell your story in a page or two, then you’re not clear on it. It should be 5-10% of the length of the original document.


This information is from the Business Writing and Leadership classES. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.



Other Resources:


How to write a compelling Executive Summary


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