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How to Write an Executive Summary

Executive Compass Branding

An executive summary is often a very important but sadly overlooked part of bid and tender writing. It should obviously contain a summary of the important and salient parts of your bid but it can be so much more.

Too often it is just a condensed and/or rehashed version of the bid. This is a very big mistake. A good executive summary should be able to stand on its own and engage with the reader. In some cases a reader will not read past the executive summary so it need to be compelling, readable, engaging and should contain and be in balance with the whole theme of the bid.

Rather like a trailer for a movie or the narrative on the fly leaf of a book, it should give enough away to gain your interest and provide a desire for you to continue to read through the bid. Obviously it needs a little more detail that the movie trailer and also you normally give the ending away but, you can also whet the appetite enough to make them read on and become engrossed in the whole story. Even if they do know “whodunit”.

The win strategy should be incorporated into the executive summary because while it should be able to be a stand alone or read alone document, it should also maintain the same theme, feel and message of the core document. Too often it can become a stilted version, rather like a poor sequel, remember it is an introduction and should be a blockbuster.

The executive summary is your unique opportunity to convince the reader that your proposal provides the best value proposition and the best benefit. If you have submitted a very technical proposal the executive summary, as a non technical document is even more important. It will clearly cut through the technical jargon and explain what value you bring to the project from the customer perspective.

Keep in mind the executive summary is the only part of your proposal that will be read by each and any member of the evaluation team. More important, in some smaller firms it could be that it’s the only part that an executive, a person who has the definitive power over the final decision, will read your proposal.

One technique is to write the executive summary first and set the theme. Then when the bid or tender is complete rewrite the executive summary. The advantage of doing it this way is that it acts as a road map for the rest of the bid team. The downside is that it take a little experience to do this way.

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