The Executive Summary

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					The Executive Summary
                        March 25th 2011
What is technical
-   It is a form of transactional communication.

-   It performs a specific purpose for a particular audience.

-   It deals with specialized areas, often technical in nature.

-   It often furthers the interests of organizations rather than individuals.

   The Four Pillars of technical communication include:
                           · Focus
                           · Research
                           · Write It Down
                           · Edit and Proof Read
How will I use technical

   Business: correspondence, persuasive documents related to
              equipment purchases, promotion of new products

   Administrative: reports, policy statements

   Educational: user manuals, pamphlets, handbooks

   Artistic: sheet music, storyboard, directors‟ script,
              choreography notation

   Academic: research reports, articles for professional publications

   Technical: Blueprints, technical specifications
Definition: Executive Summary
A summary intended for executives who need a condensed version of the
    key elements of a lengthy, formal report in order to make timely and
    appropriate decisions or recommendations.

Never introduce into the executive summary any information you didn‟t
   include in the report. Remember this is a summary.

Sometimes called the epitome, the executive overview, the management
   summary, or the management overview

We are going to examine:

- The importance of an executive summary
- Understanding the anatomy of a report
- What is included in an executive summary
An Example…
    For instance, if the research and development division at
     an automobile manufacturer has created a composite
     material that can replace steel in engine components, the
     technical details of the report might deal with the
     following kinds of questions:

How was the composite devised?

What are its chemical and mechanical structures?

What are its properties? including information that is not found elsewhere in the

 These questions that are included in the details of the report
   deal directly with the construction of and use for the composite
   in the industry.
Example continued…
     The managerial implications, on the other hand, involve other kinds of
      questions. The executives don’t care about chemistry; they want to
      know how this project can help them make a better automobile for less

Why is this composite better than steel?

How much do the raw materials cost? Are they readily available?

How difficult is it to make the composite?

Are there physical limitations to the amount we can make?

Is the composite sufficiently different from similar materials to prevent any legal problems?

Does the composite have other possible uses for cars?

These questions deal directly with how this new material will effect the
   product of the company and therefore the company‟s well being.
             The Importance of the
              Executive Summary

* Based on Effective Communications for Engineers, author Roy B, Hughson‟s study
entitled, “How Managers Read Reports.” The study confirms that managers read the
executive summary even though they may read little else.
Compositions of an Informal
and Formal Report

A report is an impartial, objective, and
  planned representation of facts.

Informal report (brief memo, email) =
   introduction, body, conclusion, and

A Formal report is much more complex.
Anatomy of a report
   Front matter
          Title Page
          Abstract
          Table of Contents
          List of figures
          List of tables
          Preface (or forward)
          List of abbreviations and symbols

   Body
          Executive Summary
          Introduction
          Text (including headings)
          Conclusions
          Recommendations

   References

   Back matter
          Bibliography
          Appendixes
          Glossary
          Index
   Most executives often don‟t have time to read the
    details. That is the entire purpose of the executive

   Decisions or recommendations about personnel,
    funding, policies, or other key issues will be based
    almost entirely on the information they digest in one
    or two pages of an executive summary.

   Therefore, these pages need to be action-packed
    and chock-full of information!
What do I include?
   You write an executive summary after you
    write the entire report.

   The following key parts are incredibly
    important seeing as the executive summary
    is quite often the only part of a report an
    executive reads.
       Purpose
       Findings
       Recommendations
       Background (if necessary)
Sequencing your information

   You control the way you present your
    information. Sequence your information to
    ensure that you will have the most impact on
    your reader

   When you anticipate that your reader will
    react favourably to your summary, put the
    findings or recommendations first. You have
    nothing to hide.
Presenting information to a
favourable or neutral reader
    Purpose

    Recommendations or findings

    Analysis and supporting data

    Background


    Colorado State should discontinue the practice of charging faculty for
     personal calls.

 This is a good example if the people you work for are only interested in this
    issue. It begins with a summary of conclusions regarding only the CSU
Sequencing your information

   However, when you anticipate that your
    reader will oppose your findings or
    recommendations, you need to build up to
    them by leading with the background and
    supporting data.

   You want to present the data in a way that is
    most beneficial to you and your report
Presenting information to an
opposing reader

   Purpose

   Background

   Analysis and supporting data

   Recommendations or findings
     Using graphics to your
         A graphic can make a positive impact in your executive summary. Don‟t hesitate to create
          a chart or table to condense lots of text. This graphic condenses 5 pages of text from the

Phase                        Action
Design phase                  Focus on prioritizing functions and data elements based on strategic

                                Be sure e-commerce governs the design.

Development phase               Use a SWAT team approach.

                                Provide for training and on-going user involvement.

                                Use the timebox concepts as a forcing function.
Deployment Phase                Deploy this program in three incremental phases.

                              Establish a hot line with technicians who are qualified to make
Appropriate Tone and
   Use technical terms cautiously. Don‟t use technical terms unless you‟re sure that the
    executive reading the report is familiar with them. Not all executives have technical
    backgrounds, so this is where the Technical Brief is valuable to understand your reader.

   Show a positive attitude. Your goal is to demonstrate and convince the executive of
    your ideas.

   Use the active voice. The active voice is stronger and more alive than the passive voice.
    When you use active voice you place the focus on the doer of the action. The passive
    voice is dull and weak. „

          Malcolm will present his findings next Friday

           The findings will be presented by Malcolm next Friday

   Think seriously about being funny. Incorporating humor into an executive summary (or
    into any part of your report for that matter) is not appropriate. Your company isn‟t paying
    you to be a comedian.
Process of writing an
executive summary

   Summarizing the major sections of
    your report. You might even copy text
    from your report into the summary and
    then edit it down.

   Talking aloud or even tape recording
    yourself summarizing sections of your
Questions to ask yourself

   What is your report about?

   Why is it important?

   What is included in the report?

   What is included in each section?
Video Example…

   How to write an executive plan for a
    Business Plan
   Markel, M. (1996). Technical Communication.

   Roberts, S. (2001). Technical Writing      for
    Dummies. Hungry Minds.

   Writing Guide: Executive Summaries. (2001).
       Colorado State University. Retrieved March 24th
       2011, from

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