Executive summaries – do you write first or last?

If your tender, bid or proposal submission process allows you to incorporate an executive summary, then this is a great way for you to highlight your value proposition. Sometimes, though, when and how you write it can also make a difference:

Write it last

Many writers find that they organise their thoughts and discover their key messages through the act of writing itself. Therefore, they argue you should write the executive summary last. This is because you know your document intimately by this stage, so you can write an overview that accurately represents your offer.

Write it first

Others say that you should write it first. That way, it acts like a roadmap for your response schedule; it keeps you organised and writing to your strategic plan. By following it, you ensure you’re covering your key strategic selling points and don’t go off track.

Focus on the client

Whether you write it first or last will come down to writing style and personal preference. Ultimately what is important is its contents. When writing an executive summary, you should start with your prospective client’s name, so the first word they read is their own. This shows that you are focused on their needs, rather than just your business. Repeat back to them what they’ve told you at the briefing, conversation or meeting or in the Request for Tender or Request for Proposal.

The remainder of the executive summary presents your business’ solutions in brief. That is, how you will add value, with real examples. Rather than being about what you do and how you do it, the executive summary is your opportunity to succinctly describe what the client will gain by choosing your firm. Finally, limit your executive summary to no more than two pages. Keep the details for the rest of your tender or proposal.

If you would like help writing, editing or proofreading your tenders, proposals or business documents, head to the contact page or call Rosemary Gillespie direct on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216.

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