1. Prefer general language to jargon to reach all your readers. Try your executive summary with readers who may be familiar with your audience but unfamiliar with the technicalities of your subject matter. If those readers can understand your executive summary, so will your audience; if they cannot, then edit it for clarity.
2. Limit transitional phrases and prefer content language over context language—but not at the expense of clear expression. For example, note the context, or helpful-to-know, language that the writer strikes out in the interest of brevity and highlighting the content, or need-to-know, language:
Investors Plus should hire three account executives in Region 3. In doing so, the Company will effectively achieve its stated objective to increase sales by $1.5 million within 18 months. As a result, it will succeed in and recovering sales lost to increased competition from Surety Banking over the past year.
DRAFT 1 (51 words)
DRAFT 1 (51 words)
DRAFT 2 (30 words)Investors Plus should hire three account executives in Region 3 to increase sales by $1.5 million within 18 months and and recover sales lost to increased competition over the past year.
3. Summarize information rather than repeat it verbatim. This is tricky. You do not want to recreate your story by changing its meaning; rather, you want to find words and phrases that better serve the readers’ need to capture information efficiently. For example, say the original report stated:
An 8-square-centimeter area of polyvinyl chloride tubing triple-coated with Color R203 exhibited a 75% patina loss when exposed to 1 milliliter of Xylol over a 30-second period.
The executive summary may make the same point by stating:
Polyvinyl chloride coated with Color R203 suffers significant patina loss when exposed to Xylol.
4. Use bullets wherever possible to broadcast key points and reduce verbiage. Let the following example speak for itself.
DRAFT 1 (62 words)
Moving the Creedwell Production Facility will reduce operating expenses by saving $25,000 on rental space annually. In addition, the move will make commuting easier by an average of 30 minutes each way for more than 75 percent of our existing staff. Finally, the move will substantially increase our labor pool because of the higher number of available workers in the new area.
DRAFT 2 (36 words)
Moving the Creedwell Production Facility will:
- reduce annual rental expenses by $25,000
- reduce commuting by approximately 30 minutes each way for over 75 percent of current staff
- increase the number of available workers
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