How to Write an Effective Executive Summary

As an engineer, writing an executive summary that details your business plans and captures your investors’ attention will help you create success for your company. Understanding this kind of technical editing can mean more funding, more efficient business plans, and better execution of those plans. As a result, more people will choose your engineering services over the competition.

An executive summary goes beyond writing a simple introduction. It’s an integral part of your report that offers information about your company, as well as your findings and recommendations. Knowing how to write condensed summaries allows you to impress your readers within one or two pages.

What Is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary condenses the key points of your business plan, along with your research findings and how you intend to solve a problem, into a brief, readable document.

When you write an executive summary, you should focus on capturing your audience’s attention so that they will want to read the rest of your plans and invest or participate in your solution.

It should contain information about your company and your target market and describe details like your research rationale, financial highlights, and the problems your business will solve.

Some investors make decisions based on executive summaries alone, which means that weak technical writing can cost you money. You should clearly highlight the main points of the document so your audience can read selectively while still getting the information they need.

In the end, your executive summary should persuade someone to work with you, invest in you, or listen to you. This summary functions as a condensed version of your complete report, and every part of your full report should feature briefly in it.

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What Should You Include in an Executive Summary?

Your executive summary starts with an introductory paragraph that says why and for whom you wrote the report. The introduction should entice the reader and make them curious about your company and your business plan.

Next, write one or two paragraphs explaining the research method and why the engineering firm took it. It should include information about your methodology, research, testing, and any other factors that led you to your conclusion.

Once you have explained your methods, you can move on to other paragraphs about your study’s findings and recommended steps.

Describe your solution so your reader can understand the process and want to read more about how your business will implement that solution in the recommendations and conclusions section of your business plan.

A final paragraph will show how accepting your findings will benefit your audience.

Make sure you write a summary that an executive committee will want to read. Your exec summary must hold value for the reader and allow them to connect with that information so they can relate to your vision.

What Are the Key Points of an Executive Summary?

When you write an executive summary, only describe the main points of your business plan. Be sure to keep it to one or two pages, or as close as possible, since making it too long will deter your readers.

In your summary, executive committee members will want to see points like:

  • Descriptions of your product or service:Why does your target market need you? What problem do you solve that no other company can?
  • Qualities and needs of your target audience:Who are your customers? Why do they need your product? Describe the people you want to reach, especially if that information is not clear in your business plan’s title.
  • Description of your competition:All business plans should show how your business stands out from others like it.
  • A financial overview:Briefly describe your sales, growth, and plans for the next few years, along with what you expect your financials to look like.
  • Talk about your team:Who works with you to come up with ideas and execute them? Show your audience your capabilities and credentials, and convey why you have an exceptionally qualified organization.
  • Detail your funding needs:If you are trying to get funding from investors, tell them what kind of money you need and how you plan to use it.

How to Improve Your Executive Summary

Improving your executive summaries depends in part on how you write. An effective executive summary should capture your reader’s attention and focus on content and clarity.

Use these tips to create a better executive summary that impresses investors and keeps your audience reading about your business.

Use a Template

A template can guide you on how to write the most effective executive summary. It gives you executive summary examples, so you ensure that you don’t leave anything out.

You can use Microsoft Word tips and tricks to help you write your executive summary, and the software provides templates you can use. However, you can also find others online to download for free.

Treat It Like a Pitch

When you show investors or clients your summary, cover your essential points first. You’re trying to sell your business plan, but don’t push it like you would a sale. Instead, use your executive summary to show your product’s or service’s advantages and communicate your findings.

It would be best if you had a balance between the technical elements and the benefits to the reader. Ultimately, this part of your business plan will function as a pitch in that it sparks your audience’s interest and gives a good reason why they should stick to your plan.

Save It For the End

If you write your executive summary at the end, you’ll know how to organize it and keep the formatting in line with what you’ve already written. That way, the reader can follow your ideas and know where to reference different points within the larger document.

Keep It Organized and Simple

You don’t need excessive explanations at the beginning of your business plan. Instead, order your items by their significance.

Your executive summary should begin with a problem that you can fix. You don’t need to get wordy or in-depth yet. Instead, use bullet points and formatting to your advantage, so they will catch the readers’ eyes as they skim for the most essential parts.

Make It Your Summary Memo

Some investors don’t want your full business plan and will instead ask for a summary memo. Your executive summary should function as one and offer the information they need in a small space. When you have a multipurpose executive summary, you won’t need to waste time later trying to adapt it for different audiences.

Check out more technical writing tips in our resources section.

Vista Projects is an integrated engineering services firm able to assist with your pipeline projects. With offices in Calgary, Alberta, Houston, Texas and Muscat, Oman, we help clients with customized system integration and engineering consulting across all core disciplines.

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