Business proposals: writing an executive summary
When writing a business proposal, the executive summary is arguably the most important component. You should write it as if the success of the entire proposal rests upon it.
So given how important your executive summary is, it's important to set out some guidelines for writing it.
GUIDELINE ONE: USE THE CARROT-AND-STICK APPROACH
(Note: The "carrot and stick" metaphor refers to creating a situation where you are motivating someone with both a reward and a punishment.)
Your executive summary should briefly point out the severity of the problem facing the client, the dire consequences of not fixing it, the key features of your solution and the key benefits to the client.
briefly covering these four things in the executive
summary, we're setting up a highly effective carrot-and-stick
If you do it right, your executive summary can generate great enthusiasm for reading the rest of your proposal.
This is all material that you'll cover again in greater depth in the main body of the proposal, but you should write your executive summary as if the success of the whole proposal depends upon it. It may.
GUIDELINE TWO: KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Your executive summary should be understandable by anyone. This is not the place to start sprouting financial and technical gibberish.
Keep in mind that people with widely varying backgrounds may read the executive summary (even if they don't read the rest of the proposal). Write it so they can all understand it. If they want more details, they'll look for them in the body of your report.
Every long proposal (i.e. anything with a title page and a table of contents) needs an executive summary. It's a critical component of your proposal.
It's called a summary for a reason. Don't try to trick people into reading more than they intended by being long winded. A reasonable rule of thumb is as follows:
You'll find many more helpful tips like these in Tim North's much applauded range of e-books. More information is available on his web site, and all books come with a money-back guarantee. http://www.BetterWritingSkills.com
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