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How to Get Your Great Ideas Heard with Just One Page of Proposal

How to Get Your Great Ideas Heard with Just One Page of Proposal

Do you feel painful when you’re reading a proposal with hundreds of pages? The same feeling goes for people who write them.

People struggle about how to write a good and comprehensive proposal and get their ideas heard. But they don’t want to receive a comment saying ‘too long didn’t read’. So it’s time to make good use of executive summary to highlight your ideas as no one will really read through every single word if there’re hundreds of pages.

An executive summary summarizes a report, proposal, or any kind of document. Unlike an abstract, an executive summary is a condensed version of the full document rather than an overview or orientation. It is mainly produced for business proposals, allowing readers to be rapidly acquainted with a large body of material without actually reading it.

A good executive summary can impress your readers immediately. Here I’ll provide everything you need for a good executive summary.

An executive summary is your pitch.

Imagine you’re in a bookstore looking for a book. How would you decide which one to be bought? I’m sure you’ll have a look at the cover, and then turn to its back and read its summary.

An executive summary is similar. It is an essential gateway for your business plan to get read. The aim of it is to grab readers’ attention and make them want to know more about whatever the document is presenting.

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While for an entrepreneur, the one who writes the document, it is also important. Writing an executive summary helps you to develop a better vision of your business, and you have a more visualized picture of your story. You will come to know which aspect of your company has the clearest selling points and which requires more clarification.

Keep it to one page, followed by easy-to-skim subsections.

An executive summary is to grab attention instead of to provide details. So you should keep it short and concise.

One page should be enough to cover all the essential elements of an executive summary. Emphasize your main points and highlight those important findings or special ideas only. Don’t try to present all the graphs and figures in such limited space. And don’t waste a single word in an executive summary. Every word should exist with a clear purpose there.

Subheading is always important. By dividing your document into subsections, readers can skim through it quickly and easily. They can grasp your ideas within a minute or two by only reading the subheadings. This also helps you to organize your ideas in a much clearer way, which would be easier for readers to follow.

Make each section clear with the following structure.

Generally, a well-structured executive summary should include:

  • the mission statement
  • company information/background
  • (growth) highlights
  • your products/services
  • a summary of future plans

But what exactly should be included in different parts of an executive summary?

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It’s straightforward for the mission statement. It explains what your business is all about and the goal of your business.

For the part about company information/background, think of the important events of your company history. When was your business formed? Where was it formed? Who founded it? What are their roles. You can also mention the size of your business and anything you think remarkable.

What makes your business outstanding? When you talk about highlights, you can include examples of business growth, such as financial or market highlights. Profit margin, market share, or any index you find impressive. Graphs and charts can be also included. But one or two will do.

You should also briefly describe your products/services you provide. Consider if your readers are familiar with your products or services. Try to provide a slightly more detailed description if your readers are not familiar with them.

A summary of future plans is to explain where you would like to take your business. It can be in short-term or in long-term. Your readers are interested to know if you share the same vision.

Some good examples of executive summary

Let’s take a look at the below extract which outlines what information the report deals with and see if you think it’s good.

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Example 1

It (the report) highlights what type of consumer buying or business buying behaviors are displayed in the purchase of a product or service and explains why each behavior may occur. This enables a conclusion to be drawn from applying theory to reality.

What do you think? Good or bad?

I’d say it’s not a good one. It indeed briefly presents the idea of the report but it fails to provide a summary of the results gained, conclusions drawn and recommendations made. Readers gain nothing after reading such executive summary.

Example 2

The below is an extract from a sample executive summary for a Washington, D.C., bakery:

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By creating a new niche in the restaurant industry, Rutabaga Sweets will increase sales by more than $145,000 over three years while maintaining a gross margin of 80%. Through a philosophy of “nothing but the best” regarding both product and service, Rutabaga Sweets will establish itself as an exceptional dessert bar in Washington DC. We also will gain a competitive advantage in take out and catered desserts.

See the difference? It provides figures and a concrete summary instead of a vague one. While your readers are reading, they can really feel your determination from your wordings.

If you’re interested in reading more good examples, you can refer to this one for an online pharmacy and this one for a pet care service center.

Remember, your executive summary is the first and probably the only chance for you to impress your readers. So avoid any silly mistakes and be ready to showcase your brilliant ideas!

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

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Sheba Leung

Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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