The dos and don’ts for a winning executive summary

Go easy on the length

Don’t make it too long. One to two pages is generally sufficient, unless it’s a particularly big proposal or tender. Stick rigidly to any stated word or character count limits or you won’t make the first cut.

Ditch the jargon

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that using heaps of jargon and loads of acronyms will make you sound like a winner. Often, it just makes a company sound like it’s to be avoided and it can be really tiring for assessors to wade through. Clear, unequivocal language wins the day every time.

Techno is a no-no

An executive summary is meant to be persuasive; selling benefits, not features. It’s conceivable that you may need to go into technical detail to a degree, but almost certainly not in 99% of cases. In-depth technical explanations belong in the body of the proposal or tender. And even then, remember that it’s generally wise to pitch your writing to a lay-person’s level of understanding.

Company history is just that

Fascinating as it may be, the story of your company should not appear in an executive summary.  In fact, it shouldn’t even appear in the proposal itself, unless specifically asked for.

Put the spotlight on the client

The prospective client’s name should be the first word in your tenders and proposals. Your powerful opening statement sets the scene for the rest of your proposal and should include what the prospect wants and needs to know – not what you think they should hear about you. Put yourself firmly in their shoes and write persuasively, focusing on their issues.

Plain talking

Easily understood, plain language is the order of the day and this goes for your whole proposal. Use clear and unambiguous terms to make reading a joy rather than a chore. And check sentence length too, ensuring the reader doesn’t expire through a lack of oxygen.

Proofread till it’s perfect

Your executive summary is so important that it’s criminal not to have it – and your entire submission, for that matter – proofread by a professional. At the very least, have it reviewed by somebody competent who hasn’t been involved in its creation. You’ll be amazed at the difference a spot of sharp editing can make to the way it sounds and how much more professional it will look when it’s error-free.

If you would like help writing, editing or proofreading your Tenders 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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