For longer documents, summarize up front—including your bottom line.
An executive summary is like an "elevator briefing." Here's what I mean: Suppose you get on an elevator with your boss, who asks, "How's your project going?" You need to finish your answer by the time you get to the fourth floor. What would you say?
You'd probably give a quick, bottom-line summary. And what's effective for a busy person on an elevator is also effective for a busy person sitting at a desk. An executive summary, then, is a quick, bottom-line summary. The difference from an elevator briefing is that the executive summary is in writing.
An executive summary normally is at the beginning of a document. And it's normally short.
In this chapter, let's consider these questions:
• Who reads an executive summary?
• How long should an executive summary be?
• Is there a structure for an executive summary?
• What are some cautions?
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