How to Write an Executive Summary in 30 Seconds — Lionesses of Africa

by Izane Cloete-Hamilton 

I was recently invited to a networking event where I was tasked with introducing my business, nFold, in 30 seconds. It made me wonder: is the equivalent to the proverbial elevator pitch, an executive summary on a page?

An excellent executive is essential to sales proposals. Yet, many salespeople don’t know how to write one that grabs attention. An executive summary provides busy people with information fast to decide a course of action. Mainly, it helps them determine if they should spend their precious time reading the rest of your proposal. There are many ways to structure an executive summary. It is not so much about choosing a perfect model than using your chosen model perfectly. 

Regardless of the model, there are rules when it comes to executive summary writing. My favourites are:

Rule #1: Write it first 

Seeing as an executive summary is not an abstract of your proposal (did you know that?) but a business case, you write it first.  By writing it first, you ensure that the rest of your proposal aligns with the win theme and strategy. It keeps the proposal team marching in the same direction.  And sceptics, it is (obviously) not the final version.

Rule #2: Less is more

Get to the point as fast as possible but without sounding brusque. Human being’s attention span has reduced drastically over the past 20 years. It is now estimated to be even shorter than a goldfish’s attention span.

Rule #3: Paint a picture

“One picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying was invented by an advertising executive, Fred R. Barnard, in 1911.

Compare the following. Need I say more?

Rule #4: As unique as a snowflake

Snowflakes are renowned for their uniqueness. Because a snowflake’s shape evolves as it journeys through the air, no two will ever be the same. 

Think snowflake when you write an executive summary. No two customers are exactly alike. So, don’t write as if they are, even when selling the exact solution to them.

Rule #5: Review, review, and review

Who does not have a funny – or horror – story about hitting send a second before seeing a mistake? Today, instead of today; booby when it should have been Bobby. 

Use a tool like Grammarly, send it to an editor or ask a colleague. Whatever you do, don’t just right and send. (See what I did there?)

I achieved the seemingly impossible. Try it and time yourself. 

Hello, I am Izane Cloete-Hamilton, Master of Inspiration at nFold. As proposal strategists, we help you win more sales proposals, tenders, and bids. We collaborate on once-off proposals or by taking ownership of your entire proposal operation.

We educate through Masterclasses and APMP certification, teaching you global proposal best practices. We automate with proposal tools that provide data-driven insights and eliminate manual, admin intensive and time-consuming tasks.

74 words. You can say 75 to 85 words in a 30 Second radio spot.

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