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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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