Master this critical business tool

What is an executive summary and why do you need one?

An executive summary is a short document that provides an overview of a larger report or proposal. It is typically used to give decision-makers a quick overview of the main points without them having to read the whole document. An executive summary should be no more than 1-2 pages long and should be clear, concise, and free of jargon. It should include a brief description of the problem, the proposed solution, the benefits of the solution, and the estimated costs. An executive summary is essential for making decisions quickly and efficiently. When done well, it can make all the difference in whether or not a project is approved.

How to write an executive summary

An executive summary should be composed of three main sections: background information, a brief overview of the main points, and recommendations (if applicable). When writing an executive summary, it is important to consider the audience’s needs. The summary should be tailored to the specific audience and should only include relevant information. For example, an executive summary for a report on marketing plans would focus on the report’s recommendations for marketing strategy rather than on its analysis of past marketing campaigns. By taking the time to understand the audience and tailor the content accordingly, writers can ensure that their executive summaries are informative and engaging.

The different types of executive summaries

There are three different types of executive summaries: Informative, exploratory, and persuasive. The type of summary you write will depend on the document’s purpose. An informative summary gives an overview of the main points of the document. An exploratory summary digs deeper, providing analysis and insights. A persuasive summary tries to convince the reader to take action. All executive summaries should be clear, concise, and well-written, regardless of the type. By providing a quick overview of the document, an executive summary can help busy readers determine whether or not they need to read the entire document.

Tips for making your executive summary stand out

First, keep it short. An executive summary should be at most two or three pages long. Second, focus on the key points. Highlight the most important information from the rest of the plan, and include your company’s mission statement and goals. Third, use strong language. Be persuasive and confident in your writing, and avoid jargon or technical terms. Finally, proofread carefully. Make sure there are no errors or typos in your executive summary, because this can give investors the impression that your company is not professional or well-organized. 

Examples of executive summaries

When writing an executive summary, it is important to focus on the most essential information and present it clearly and concisely. Below are three examples of executive summaries:

The first example is from a business context. ABC Corporation is proposing a new product or service to XYZ Company. The executive summary should provide an overview of the product or service, as well as its key features and benefits. It should also briefly discuss why ABC Corporation believes that XYZ Company would be interested in the product or service.

The second example is from an academic context. This executive summary comes from a research paper on the impact of social media on young adults. The summary should provide an overview of the research findings, including any key takeaways or implications. It should also briefly explain the methodology used and highlight any limitations of the study.

The third example is from a government context. This executive summary comes from a report on crime rates in major cities across the United States. The summary should provide an overview of the findings, including any observed trends or patterns. It should also briefly discuss any recommendations for further action that were made by the authors of the report.


Executive summaries can be the deciding factor between a potential customer reading your entire report or not. They are essential for quickly and effectively communicating the most important points of your document to a busy executive. If you want to ensure your hard work is read and considered, learn how to write executive summaries that stand out. I’d be happy to help you get started – contact me today!

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