An executive summary, as described by the Writing Center at UMUC, “summarizes or reviews the main points of a longer document or report for a reader that does not have time to read the entire report. An effective executive summary analyzes and summarizes the most important points in the paper or report, and will often make a recommendation based on the analysis. Executive summaries are ‘stand-alone’ documents that are almost always read independently of the reports they summarize” (UMUC, n.d.).
In a workplace setting, an executive summary is the mechanism by which you will attract an executive’s attention and should concisely summarize the materials that you are presenting.
While there isn’t a single acceptable format, an executive summary briefly (one to two pages) addresses these critical areas:
- The first paragraph needs to attract attention and get the executive to read the rest of the summary.
- Bullet points and concise language should be used to articulate ideas.
- What is unique about the summary that provides compelling information for an executive to review?
- Here is a recommended structure for an executive summary:
- Introduction (capture the executive’s attention)
- Articulate the problem
- Recommend the solution
- Explain why this is important to do now. Convey a sense of urgency.