What is an Executive Summary?
An executive summary is the first section of a business plan or proposal that provides a brief overview of a document and contain its main details. In other words, it is a condensed version of a complete business plan or proposal. It is primarily used in the business world, but its application in academia is also possible.
Breaking Down Executive Summary
Generally, an executive summary is relatively short with an average length of one to four pages. It should be written in short paragraphs using clear and concise language appropriate for the target audience. One should know well the target audience of the documents to convey the message as clearly as possible. In addition, the summary must have a similar structure and flow as the main document.
The executive summary must not be confused with the abstract of the document. The abstract is a complementary overview of a larger document that does not provide much value to the reader by itself. On the other hand, the executive summary is a shorter version of the main document and can be read separately because it provides all the key points of the document.
Components of an Executive Summary
Despite the fact that the components of the executive summary may vary depending on the type of the main document, some major parts are still presented in the majority of the summaries. The components typically include:
- Overview of a company/business
- Identification of a main problem or proposition
- Analysis of a problem or proposition with the main supporting facts, data, and figures
- Possible solutions and their justifications
- Clearly defined conclusions
Importance of an Executive Summary
The primary goals of the executive summary are to provide a condensed version of the main document and to grab the attention of the reader(s). Since the readers of the business plans and reports (investors, lenders, and C-level executives) generally do not have time to read all lengthy documents they receive, only a well-written summary can help you to grab their attention and subsequently achieve your business goals.
As the executive summary is the initial representation of the complete document, it should cover the main parts of a plan or proposal and indicate the points that would be elaborated in the final document.
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