Who reads an executive summary

The answer seems obvious: executives, of course, That's true—but not the whole story.

The main reason for an executive summary is often to let a busy executive, usually a highly placed boss, read the summary instead of the document itself. If the executive summary is good, the executive can learn all the important bottom-line information up front.

However, there are other important audiences:

• Other people who are too busy to read the document. The top boss may not be the only one who doesn't have time for the entire document but still needs the quick bottom line. Staff members, for example, may have such a need.

• People wondering if they ought to read the document. Without an executive summary, the only way to know if a document is relevant is to read it. But with a well-designed executive summary, the decision becomes much easier.

• People who will read the entire document anyway. Let's face it: all of us appreciate an executive summary. If we have to read the entire document anyway, the executive summary provides context—all the bottom-line information right there at the beginning.

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