What is an Executive Summary?

Definition: An executive summary is a short section of a business document where the most relevant content is coherently summarized. When reading the executive summary, a reader should understand the highlights of the entire report.

What Does Executive Summary Mean?

Business documents generally have an executive summary to provide readers with a briefing of the report. If this section is concise, clear and expresses the main findings or conclusions, it can save the reader a lot of time. It should not be a slightly shorter version of the full report, instead it should describe briefly the main points that the author wants to communicate.

The reader might decide to explore or not some parts of the content in order to have a deeper understanding. Nevertheless, this decision must not be taken for granted. That is the reason why the executive summary has to surely provide the most important facts, conclusions and proposals contained in the remaining sections.

Example

Connors Manufacturing is a medium-size firm that provides contemporary furniture made of steel. The company reaches end consumers through its own store network located in the most populated cities. The new marketing manager realized that the mix of products could be improved to increase sales per store. He made a complete analysis that resulted in some specific recommendations to change the mix. These analysis and conclusions were written in a 61-page document containing tables, graphs and detailed explanations.

He sent the document by e-mail to his boss but no answer came during four weeks. Then a close colleague recommended the manager to send the document again but also to prepare an executive summary that could be pasted in the body of the e-mail. The marketing manager accepted the suggestion and the result was successful. His boss read the e-mail and later reviewed some of the internal sections. The proposal was approved and the company was benefited with the new product mix.