By Andy Kovacs
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
– Will Rogers
Why is it called the “Executive Summary”?
As anyone who has ever written an audit report will tell you, it’s called the “Executive Summary” because this is the only section of the report the executives in your organisation will read … if you’re lucky!
Executive Summaries often lack the urgency, impact and ‘wow’ factor required to stop a busy executive from doing what they’re doing and read the report
This high-profile attention makes writing an Executive Summary a nerve-wracking experience for many auditors. Their boss’s bosses are reading it – so they don’t want to screw it up and make a bad first impression!
I believe this is the reason why a lot of the audit report Executive Summaries which we review here at ELC Consultants lack confidence.
What’s worse, they often lack the urgency, impact and ‘wow’ factor required to stop a busy executive from doing what they’re doing and actually read the report.
There are a lot of articles about how the Executive Summary is the most important section of any audit report and how you mustn’t waste this opportunity to show your value to your stakeholders. Nevertheless, I see very few articles offering practical advice on how to write a great Executive Summary opening.
So here are some lessons from the best scriptwriters in Hollywood to offer some ideas on how to write openings to your Executive Summaries which will get your readers hooked and make them want to read on.
Before we get into that though, we need to understand the mindset of your executive readers. So here’s a philosophical thought experiment which will help to bring this into clearer perspective.