Good and poor examples of executive summaries
This is a GOOD example from an Accounting & Finance assignment.
This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the current and prospective profitability, liquidity and financial stability of Outdoor Equipment Ltd. Methods of analysis include trend, horizontal and vertical analyses as well as ratios such as Debt, Current and Quick ratios. Other calculations include rates of return on Shareholders Equity and Total Assets and earnings per share to name a few. All calculations can be found in the appendices. Results of data analysed show that all ratios are below industry averages. In particular, comparative performance is poor in the areas of profit margins, liquidity, credit control, and inventory management.
The report finds the prospects of the company in its current position are not positive. The major areas of weakness require further investigation and remedial action by management.Recommendations discussed include:
improving the average collection period for accounts receivable·
improving/increasing inventory turnover·
reducing prepayments and perhaps increasing inventory levels
The report also investigates the fact that the analysis conducted has limitations. Some of the limitations include:
forecasting figures are not provided nature and type of company is not known nor the current economic conditions data limitations as not enough information is provided or enough detail i.e. monthly details not known results are based on past performances not present
methods of analysis
Recommendations (note that conclusions and recommendations can be bulleted)
Limitations of the report.
Excerpt from Woodward-Kron, R. (1997) Writing in Commerce: a guide to assist Commerce students with assignment writing, (Revised edition), Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, The University of Newcastle.
This is a GOOD example of an executive summary from a marketing report.
This is a POOR example of an executive summary from a marketing assignment
Every time a business or consumer purchases products or services they display forms of buyer behaviour that are influenced by many factors. The following report looks at the fast food industry and will analyse four McDonalds’ key products and services.It highlights what type of consumer buying or business buying behaviours are displayed in the purchase of a product or service and explains why each behaviour may occur. This enables a conclusion to be drawn from applying theory to reality. Although a full comprehension of buying behaviour is impossible, since everyone is an individual, it is useful to reflect on common behaviours and attempt to divide behaviours in types and stages. Even McDonalds, a leader in marketing cannot always predict consumer behaviour.
Background to problem
Outlines what information the report deals with but FAILS to provide a summary of the results gained, conclusions drawn and recommendations made. These are the functions of an executive summary and are absent in this example.
The information in this executive summary is vague rather than summarising what the report found.
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Below you will find some suggested content "buckets" in which to put elements of your 10 minute presentation or two page executive summary. These are presented strictly to help you structure your presentation or executive summary, or to remind you of relevant items you may have missed.
The order is just one order of "information buckets" — your presentation or writing style, or your business could dictate a different order.
The bullets under each heading are just reminders or suggestions and are by no means mandatory or all encompassing. Hopefully they will help you think what the relevant things are for your own business. Frequently you will be able to merge one or two topics to reduce the apparent content.
One thing to remember: don't repeat stuff; you don't have room or time to do this and it always frustrates the reader/listener. Carefully structure content into the buckets (paragraphs or slides) to avoid content duplication.
Try to find a model company that has grown as you intend to in a comparable business with similar customer psyche. Try to get the revenue ramp, net profits, amount spent on marketing, R&D etc. These can help you justify your own revenue ramp and numbers. If it's a public company you may find what you need at www.sec.gov.
Having said all that remember that the main "buckets" (numbered items below) are expected somewhere in the presentation or summary. Also, remember you are selling a business (stock in your company), not a technology or a product, so don't dwell on product and technology. Get over succinctly the compelling need for your product or service, how the customer derives value, how you get customers, how you make money, and what business advantage you will be able to maintain over an extended period of time.
Executive Summaries and Presentations don't get you the money any more than a resume gets you a job. They merely create interest to get you to a next meeting (job analogy would be an interview) with a more focussed and interested group. So easy on the detail!
Here are some additional tips for the 10 minute slide presentation.
- The audience should focus on listening to you, not reading and understanding the slides. Therefore, a slide should have no more than 4 or maximum 5 bullets, or a simple uncongested diagram. The audience should be able to digest the slide in 5 seconds or so. This means you must articulate the items below, not write the points, point for point, on the slides. All you need on the slides are the highlights in bullet or graphical form.
- Don't make the slide content such that the audience has to think to deduce things; you need them to focus on what you are saying, not think.
- Make the title of each slide the conclusion you want the audience to reach from the slide content and your pitch for that slide. e.g., Patented Technology, not Technology, $5 Billion Addressable Market, not Market Size, etc.
- Make sure you use 24 point fonts or larger whenever possible, and make sure the text or graphic is a sharply contrasting color to the slide background.
- Avoid animation unless you really need to enhance understanding of, say, a graphic. If you use it, do it in moderation and make sure you are really well rehearsed.
- LASTLY, PUT THE SLIDE NUMBER ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT OF EACH SLIDE. You can do this in a PowerPoint template so each slide automatically has the number. This really helps someone assisting you in reviewing your presentation.
Here are some tips for executive summaries:
- Use 10 point fonts or greater
- Try to leave white space on the page; it makes it easier to read
- Use bullets, tables, pictures (product or partner/customer logos if they add validation) to break up the text
- No story telling about how, for example, your product will change the world or how the internet is changing all business processes; just the facts.
- Use headings for each major section; it breaks up the text and allows the reader to easily re-find information
- Always make sure contact information is on your executive summary, and on the last slide of your presentation. When transmitting either electronically, always put your company name in the file name (e.g. XYZCo_ExecSum.doc).
If in doubt about ANYTHING please contact us before you spend hours wordsmithing the executive summary or presentation.
Two Page Executive Summary and 10 minutes Slide Presentation Content
- LOGO/Company Name and Contact Information(in a presentation you don't need to allow time for this; it will usually be shown while you walk up to podium)
- Overview (or a summary of the summary)
- Simple, direct, two or three line statement describing the business, market, unfair advantages. A non-flowery, no buzz word, factual statement that attracts attention. The remainder of the summary/presentation will substantiate the statement.
- Money raised to date
- Customers (in order of importance they are: (brand) names that have purchased and received the product (great validation), those that have ordered, those with which you have initiated contracts, etc.)
- Core competence
- Products Developed
- What you will do and when – key milestones for each funding round
- State the Problem/Pain you are solving
- What is the Value of the solution
- Why will customer die for a solution?
- Description, stage of development, prototype?
- How the problem is solved and value is derived (describing how you make money – the business model – could be appropriate here)
- Example of use with real customers, if available
- Patents, licenses, trade secrets
- Put face on Customer – use logos if possible
- Can you provide a ROI example? e.g., customer spent $50,000 on product and saved that in first three months
- What was their compelling reason for purchase?
- Deals with customers -- great 3rd party validation
- Size for your market space (e.g. we participate in the $20 billion XYX software market)
- Addressable market for your product, now and in three years (build from the bottom up, i.e. 20 million users @ $100 each gives $2 billion market)
- By Application or segment
- Your initial segment focus – 'the low hanging fruit'
- Who are your typical customers, how customers are acquired (marketing)
- How you sell them (direct sales, OEM, partnerships, agencies, reps)
- What is the sales cycle (can dictate amount of funding needed)
- If a manufacturer, any important operational strategies.
- Business Model (How and on what do you make money)
- Ensure you inform as to why you are better and how you are differentiated
- Current Competitors
- Competitive map (e.g., four quadrants in a presentation with two axes to highlight your strengths and competitors weakness and then position yourself), or a table matrix with you and your competitors showing how you each rate against a list of benefits (e.g., checks in a table cell to show you have it, they don't).
- Emerging competitive technologies
- Table with five years of financial information for:
- Unit sales of product, or number of customers
- Gross margin as a percentage of revenue
- Net after tax income as a percentage of revenue
- Use a model company to justify your hockey stick
Make sure you don't use too many significant figures for each number so that it is easy to read and digest. Dollars should be in thousands or millions, if appropriate. You can use a graph instead of a table to relate the information. Note somewhere when you are cash flow break-even.
- Names, accomplishments, companies and position if well known, entrepreneurial successes, area of distinct competence. Great management is great validation.
- Include members of your board of directors and/or advisors, but only if they have distinct recognition and their participation provides validation of your business to your intended audience for the presentation/summary.
- How much do you need now to fund your plan, what kind of investor is preferred, what are funds for. What specific business milestones will be achieved with the funds? Will achievement of those milestones get you the next round of funding? How much more money will be needed before you are self-sustaining.
- Exit. Make the investors comfortable that they can get their money out (get liquid) in a reasonable time frame. Use examples of other companies in your space who have had successful exits. e.g. XYX company had an IPO at 20x revenue, ZZZ was acquired at 30x earnings, CCC has acquired 2 companies in space in the last year
- For a presentation make this the last slide to leave up while questions may be asked.
- No energy and passion in the presentation; nothing to rapidly get the attention and interest of the reader in the first paragraph of the executive summary.
- More than one presenter
- Reading your slides, or reading your pitch
- Too much technical language; unfamiliar acronyms
- Too much about the idea or product and not enough about the market, business and revenue
- Listing too many names of clients or partners. Indicate how many clients and name a few big names to spark interest.
- Articulating wrong numbers that turn investors off – i.e. unfocused market size, and no credible link between funding requirements and plans to use money
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