Engineering Copywriter Blog

Content marketing tips and insights to help grow your engineering audience

March 11, 2022

Effective Steps to Writing a Compelling Executive Summary

Writing an executive summary

An executive summary is an overview of written content such as a white paper. It serves as the introductory section of the report itself and generally includes findings, key takeaways, and recommendations. The average one will merely outline key details in a formulaic manner, but top-rate executive summaries can do more. An effective executive summary can easily captivate the reader and encourage them to read the full report. In short, it strives to close the deal.

Follow the steps below to write an executive summary that compels readers.

1. Create a captivating introduction paragraph

Writing an executive summary Every quality executive summary must have an excellent introduction paragraph. When top executives and decision-makers are skimming reports, you want yours to stand out from the very start. Put the most important aspects upfront.

This first paragraph must grab the reader’s attention right away. It’s a good idea to include some of the company’s amazing features, but ensure that it focuses on how you can help potential customers. You accomplish this by offering an effective engineering solution to a problem.

2. Define the problem

When writing an executive summary, it is important to clearly define the problem that the white paper aims to solve. This lets the reader know that you understand both the problem and the ways it affects their overall business. Do this by providing a brief but concise list of customer pain points that you want to address.

However, while defining the engineering problem, demonstrate ways your suggested solution would be successful. Make it easier for yourself by using a template. An effective strategy is to present information about challenges and supplement that with pragmatic-yet-creative solutions tailored specifically for engineers. 

Example:

The corporate mainframe system did not support scrap management and tracking. The plant had some defect codes but no formal root cause system. Plant scrap was averaging over $120,000 a month the two previous years. Scrap events were not being recorded in a disciplined manner and led to significant inventory shrinkage and lines having to be shut down due to lack of parts.

3. Provide a clear objective

Every potential customer needs to know exactly what your organization can do for them. Though engineering solutions and techniques are important, decision-makers are primarily interested in the outcome. For example, showcase the benefits by providing computations or cost-benefit analyses (CBAs). 

It’s never sufficient to simply assure your engineering customer that your approaches would “raise sales.” Use research reports and estimates based on both the predicted commercial potential and prior success. Then provide vivid and appealing possible results. Customers are eager to see the benefits of your approach, and rigorous research is critical in identifying and evaluating these benefits.

4. Describing the solution and outcome

Writing an executive summary The executive summary should showcase specific solutions and outcomes to problems that you’ve previously addressed. Describe your engineering solution in such a way that it efficiently and successfully addresses the problem and makes for a compelling declaration of intent. However, take note of the way you address the problems in your executive summary. Your engineering solution won’t make sense if the problem isn’t properly explained.

Example:

A Scrap Reduction Database System was implemented. Compliance to shop floor controls completion, in all areas, improved documentation disciplines. Scrap dollar thresholds were established for each area and were used as the basis for system-generated email reports to provide the information of where the major scrap events occurred, by area, with costs and given defect codes. Resolution mechanisms were put in place to address the causes of the scrap incidents. Awareness and accountability increased and drove process improvements.

5. Adaptability

Engineers are good at adapting to new challenges. One of the most crucial talents an engineer must possess is the capacity to adapt to new and anticipated developments.

Marketing is a dynamic sector, where innovative strategies, techniques, and guidelines appear regularly. Furthermore, marketing departments are frequently faced with constraints. They may be allocated last-minute assignments or have their priorities shifted without warning. A good marketer will thrive in this fast-paced atmosphere and be able to quickly adjust to changing conditions.

6. Include a call to action

Never forget that an executive summary is a marketing tool, so it’s important to entice your reader to take action. Place your call to action (example: contact information) near the end of your executive summary so it will be easy to remember.

Make the reader feel as though you are the best option by demonstrating that your engineering solution can help solve their problem. Discuss why you wish to collaborate with them. A little flattery can go a very long way, and the business world is all about how you’ll succeed as partners.

Short tips on writing an executive summary

1. Length

The executive summary should be short – usually no more than one or two pages. It should not be a comprehensive rundown of the paper. If your reader has any queries, they can refer to the proposal or company plan for answers. As a general guideline, your executive summary should be approximately 5-10% the length of the overall report or proposal.

2. Content

The important issues should be discussed in the same order that they’re found in the main document. Don’t include any information that isn’t included in the proposal. It’s also important to proofread and revise. Your executive summary should be free of mistakes and errors

3. Format

Evaluate and fix any formatting problems and make sure your work is as organized as possible. Rather than lengthy blocks of text, use bullet points to break down complex information, headings/subheadings to arrange subjects, and visuals to improve the reader’s grasp of the summary.

Engineering White Paper

A great executive summary compels readers

An excellent executive summary should provide top executives and decision-makers with a high-level perspective of the full paper, helping them to anticipate what they’ll find within. This way, readers will find your content compelling even if they were initially indifferent. Contact us if you are looking to hire a white paper copywriter today.

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