I am working through the final edits of my workbook and instructional CD titled How to Write Persuasive Executive Summaries I am planning to release in the next few weeks. I am very excited because it introduces my six-part formula and goes step-by-step through helping people become real masters at writing hard-hitting executive summaries.
Today, I would like to ask for some feedback from you as to how you normally start your Executive Summaries – what are your first few sentences? I use eight different methods, but am wondering what you do – and if there is a neat method that you use that I don’t.
Here is how a typical Executive Summary that I see all the time begins:
XYZ, Inc. is pleased to submit the proposal on Repair and Alteration of Bachelor Enlisted Quarters for Camp Covington, Naval Station Guam.
Now, I don’t know who the first person was to come up with that phrase “pleased to submit.” But I do know that it is NOT the way to get and keep someone’s attention. It just sounds very bureaucratic. It makes you want to yawn the moment you read it—doesn’t it?
Who can blame an evaluator faced with this kind of sentence for thinking, “Well, of course you are pleased to submit. Tell me something new!”
In addition, in this sentence, XYZ, Inc. has committed that dreadful strategic error, by starting the sentence with themselves, with their own name the very first thing the evaluators will read. This is an instant turn-off for the customer. They want to know from the very beginning that you are thinking more about THEM than about YOURSELF. It’s only natural for any customer to feel this, isn’t it?
Another typical first sentence reads like this:
Our team believes that it has the best solution to execute the design and construction of the low-level radioactive waste processing facility for the Department of Energy, and is ready to implement it on day one.
Who can blame an evaluator reading such a lead sentence for thinking, “They’re already bragging and we haven’t even gotten past the first sentence?” And for wondering, “Is this going to be this way it is from here on–just bragging and puffery? Where’s the substance?”
Chances are, the evaluation will go downhill from that point on, as the evaluator may question your credibility and regard the rest of your proposal through a negative prism.
So – what do you do with your introductory sentence to the executive summary to peak the evaluator’s interest and get them excited about reading your proposal?
About the Author: Olessia Smotrova-Taylor is President and CEO of OST Global Solutions, Inc.(www.ostglobalsolutions.com), a metro Washington, DC company helping businesses grow by winning government proposals.