Executive Summary Template
An Executive Summary is a concise short summary of a larger document, such as a business plan, project proposals and other documentation. Use our Executive Summary Template to distill your ideas into an exciting and actionable plan.
About the Executive Summary template
What is an Executive Summary?
An executive summary is a concise short summary of a larger document, such as a business proposal. It highlights important details such as a company description, market analysis, problems, solutions, finances, findings, and more that would be included in your business proposal. An executive summary should be written in a way that allows the reader to fully understand the concept of the report without reading all of the materials.
The term “executive” in executive summary means that this short snippet should be clear and concise enough for readers who do not have the time to read the entire report and should be able to clearly communicate your business proposal to the reader so that they can understand it well enough to make important decisions or proposals.
Executive Summaries are usually made for investors, executives, and lenders. These people usually have such busy schedules and would only read the executive summary during the first contact with your business. To make things a bit easier here is a quick tip on what an executive summary should include.
The summary should explain what you’re working on and what needs you’re solving - but make sure your reader doesn’t become bogged down in details. The goal of the executive summary is to sell your reader on your project: excite them, motivate them, and inspire them to keep reading.
How to use the Executive Summary template
Think of your executive summary as a movie trailer. You want to give your reader the highlights: the objectives, stakes, and how you plan to achieve your goals. The Executive Summary template empowers you to draft a summary that grabs your reader and motivates them to read the rest of the report.
Step 1: Start with a compelling first paragraph. Remember, this is your movie trailer. Movie trailers always drop you straight into the action. Your first paragraph should identify the problem that you’re seeking to solve. Show your reader that the stakes are high; lay out the consequences for failing to solve this problem. Then highlight the product, resources, or expertise that your company brings to bear on the problem.
Step 2: Once you’ve hooked your audience, it’s time to sell them your product. What sets you apart? What makes your company unique? Do you have customers? Patents? An exciting new technology? Your executive summary is introducing a business plan or investment proposal, meaning you’re looking to get buy-in from your reader. If they are sold on your company, they will be more likely to give you the resources you need to succeed.
Step 3: Give the reader an idea of your budget and timeline. There is no need to go into exhaustive detail since you will have the rest of the report to do that. But preview the nuts and bolts of your plan so your reader knows what to expect.
What should be included in an executive summary?
The exact content of the summary will depend on your audience and the information you are trying to summarize. However, there are some general guidelines to follow when writing the summary.
An executive summary should:
Capture the reader’s attention
Clearly list what is to be expected in the business plan (Keep it short and straight to the point to grab attention)
Provide a list of short and long-term goals and results.
Use this opportunity as an elevator pitch.
In this step, you should use the answers to the questions listed below to identify your end goal.
What steps or methods are you taking to solve the problems you’ve listed in the opening paragraph?
What are the goals and objectives you’ll achieve at the end of the project?
This is an important section where you briefly explain the value of the outcome.
What is the ROI of the solution you’ve proposed?
How will it improve service delivery and customer experience?
In a few sentences reiterate why it’s important to solve the problem now and the next steps or actions you want the reader to take.
How to write an Executive Summary
An executive summary is much more than a summary of your plan or proposal. It is an opportunity to engage your readers and sell them on the idea without requiring them to read the full plan or proposal. This is especially important if you're seeking funding. Here are a few useful steps to follow when writing an Executive Summary.
1. Write a problem-based introduction
Lead the summary by explaining why your project matters. A powerful way to grab the reader’s attention is to open up with a quote, researched facts, or thought-provoking statistic. The reader should understand why it’s important to solve the problem now and its relevance to your customer base.
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
When does it have to be done?
What is the problem and how big is it?
Who is the target audience, and who is this problem affecting?
Are there currently any solutions to this problem, who is the competition?
Pro Tip: If you are working on a business proposal, it would also be good to add the following about the company:
Business name and location
Description of the purpose
Leadership, founders, and current investors at your company
The team responsible for the project
2. Tell your story with your solution
Clearly communicate the value or mission statement of your project or organization. Explain which skills and experience will be used to solve the problem that was stated in the introduction. Here you can mention how your project or business solves problems for your target audience.
How does your business solve the problem?
Is it a simple or complex solution?
If it is complex, how can you make it simple, or describe it more simply?
3. Make sure you’ve done the research
While these summaries are meant to be short, they are filled with data and research. If needed, this is also a good section to add important market analysis and highlight the strengths, weaknesses, and partnerships you may have. Extensive research also shows that you understand your audience and have analyzed trends and potential competitors.
Briefly explain the problem you’re going to solve. If you’ve conducted research that shows a need for the proposal, include your findings here. Also, explain how you’ll accomplish the project goals and what you’ll need for success.
What would you want the readers to know?
Which insights would be important for them to see at first glance?
Is there a market opportunity for the problem?
How do you plan to grow your customer base and expand your market share?
What is the five-year growth plan for this product/service?
Do you have experience with competitors?
What roadblocks do you expect to address?
Who are your competitors?
What are the present and future opportunities?
4. Explain the solution
Once you’ve done explaining your business pain points and analysis, create a bullet list to outline the solution. You can use each bullet point to highlight each step of the project that will take place and the potential outcome. Explain how the solutions will improve ROI for the company. Try to add numbers if you can and include potential risks that you may face. Include relevant financial numbers.
5. Set the tone
While most Executive Summaries are formal, really base the tone of the summary on your audience. If you’re presenting to investors, use language that resonates with your audience. Use personal pronouns like “I”, “you” and “we” over impersonal pronouns like “they” or “the company.
Don’t be afraid to break the mold if it gets the desired results. However, avoid clichés as they rub readers the wrong way.
Presenting to your C-level executives in your company?
What language do they respond to?
6. Structure the Summary
Keep revising your executive summary. It needs to be able to stand and shine on its own. Every section of the summary should be clear, concise, and detailed. Make sure it has an impact. Do not brainstorm new ideas, ideas should be clear and well thought through. The goal of this summary is to engage and be actionable. Do not dive too deep into details
Have I tried reading it from the decision-maker's point of view?
Is the Executive Summary clear?
Is there a section that needs more or less information?
Have I proofread everything?
7. Save the Executive Summary for last
We advise you to write the Executive Summary last. It is a lot easier to have your project proposal or business plan written so you have all the information researched and written already and have the full document. The Executive Summary is best when you pull the key details from the full report and place them into the summary at the end.
The conclusion is a recap of the problem and the solution. Ask about the decision you want the reader to take. The outcomes should be obvious but leave room for intrigue so they feel compelled to read the rest of the business proposal.
Why write an Executive Summary?
Executive summaries often preface business plans, project proposals, and other documentation. The audiences for these types of plans are often reviewing dozens of documents every week. If they thoroughly read every plan that crossed their desk, they would never accomplish anything! Writing a compelling executive summary helps ensure that the reader will actually study the rest of your plan. Executive summaries are designed to persuade your reader that your project or company is worth their time.
Why is an Executive Summary important?
Executive summaries are your first impression. However, because they can be so time-consuming, many people and organizations make the mistake of glossing over them. It is easy to see why: when you’re putting together a project, the last thing you want to do is pause to create documentation. The Executive Summary template is useful because it removes some of the strain. Rather than slogging through a dull, uninformative, or incomplete summary, the template allows you to put together a document that gives you an edge over your competition.
When to use the Executive Summary template
Use the executive summary template any time you need to write a project plan, investment proposal, or business plan.
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