In business or as a volunteer in a not-for-profit organization, no matter what position you have, it is likely you are inundated with memos and reports. Usually what we receive ends up as part of our acquired knowledge in the recess of our brain unless an immediate decision is necessary. These are usually too long, need too much effort, are too tedious and likely to cause too much time to be spent. Hence, the need for the executive summary.
Full reports and details are important, but when a decision is needed or an essential update is being provided, brevity is also important. A suggestion is to ask the sender to include a one page summary of the issues and the needed decision. This is typically referred to as an executive summary or a one-page update, proposal or action memo. Either way, it needs to be made user-friendly.
The executive summary should contain a brief rundown of the situation, the facts, what the writer wants to do, cost, benefits and the reasoning. If a decision is needed it should be asked for. The summary should not be longer than one page (maximum of 500 words). The details can be included as an attachment or separate file.
Preparing the summary will force the writer to be clear about what they are doing, prioritize the data and eliminate any extraneous information. Graphs and charts might also be helpful. Think of this as putting bullet points on a PowerPoint slide or as an elevator pitch.
A related blog was posted on July 26, 2012, and here is a link: https://www.withum.com/resources/killer-slides/. BTW this blog is under 300 words.
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