How to Build Powerful Executive Summaries

Updated: June 3, 2022| Published: March 25, 2021| SlideUpLift Blog
How to Build Powerful Executive Summaries

They say less is more. When it comes to presentations to senior executives, it’s hard to agree more with this adage. Executive time is at an all-time premium, information is flowing in droves and people are getting overwhelmed. Yet no executive can escape the pressure of right and on occasions, high stakes decision making. As a presenter, you shoulder a big responsibility in these situations: to cut through the noise and provide sharp insights and a framework to support robust executive understanding and decisions.

If you find yourself constantly presenting your ideas, plans, and initiatives to executives, you are likely acutely aware that it isn’t trivial to find ways to communicate and frame conversations. There are many pitfalls: Executives will quickly lose patience with long presentations, make it monotonous and people will get turned off, put in too much complexity, and you will quickly see glazed eyes.

So, how do you catch attention, retain interest and drive your points home amid all these challenges? How do you communicate the gist of your messages at a glance in a way that absorbs your audience? Thankfully there are principles that have been developed specifically to address this problem. We especially like the Barbara Minto Pyramid Principle. Takes a bit of practice before you get used to this way of thinking but once you start applying it, you will likely see a dramatic upgrade to your presentation skills.

This blog focuses on how do you organize a lot of information and creative executive summary examples.

How Do You Organize Information?

The best way to organize the information you would like to present is to place your information in the “Order of Importance“. This means employing prioritization when it comes to structuring information within a presentation.

Prioritization-  This method of ordering places emphasis on the order of importance for your information. Start with the most important part, i.e the conclusion or the result that you’re working towards. And then work backward to explain your process and detailed plan. This helps explain to your stakeholders the hierarchy of tasks that need to be undergone, from most to least important.

This immortal technique “The Minto Pyramid Principle”  was pioneered by Barabara Minto in her book The Pyramid Principle in the 1970s. This principle is the best way to structure information in a way that communicates more in less time, making the writing/presentation-making time shorter. The Pyramid Principle allows people to tell their stories, with their presentations, in the same manner, that the brain processes information and holds the attention of their audience. Most premier consulting organizations including Mckinsey and company treat this book as a Bible and train all their associates rigorously on these principles.

The Minto Pyramid Principle

The Minto Pyramid Principle functions on the basic premise of having a “bottom line” or key actionable point, and then further supporting it with pieces of evidence and facts. So, as mentioned earlier, you’re essentially starting from the conclusion and working your way up. This allows you to capture your audience’s attention and communicate with gravitas by asking for what you want and explaining why you want it. It is simply giving the answer before taking the audience through an excruciating journey of details.

The Pyramid Principle follows the inverted triangle approach and involves putting the outcome first, then the main points, and lastly facts, data, and figures to support your arguments or planning. It’s a top-down approach that works best in an executive or persuasive setting.

Pyramid structure

Pyramid Structure

There are two rules that you need to keep in mind when building a Minto Pyramid structure within your presentation.

1. The SCQA Approach

Since you are beginning with your key takeaway, the introduction of your presentation is of immense importance. In order to ensure you are communicating every aspect of your conclusion or key takeaway, we use the SCQA approach.

It stands for Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer. Explain the situation, provide context. Then, state the possible problems or setbacks that can occur within this situation.

Follow this up with your question pertaining to the complication and flow into the answer which becomes your main idea or focus point for the whole presentation.

2. Applying Horizontal and Vertical Logic

After mandating your key takeaway, you need to come up with supporting arguments. A good presentation always follows both horizontal and vertical logic when coming up with supporting evidence for your main idea. The horizontal logic approach is the direct method of validating a claim. State your evidence and support it using examples. The vertical logic, however, requires a question-and-answer approach, wherein every aspect is explained by stating all potential questions and providing answers for the same. By utilizing both these logics, a presentation can inform and preemptively answer questions people may have about your working plan or strategy.

Pyramid Example

Pyramid Example

The Pyramid Principle can be further supplemented by the 7Cs of Communication. This is a checklist that ensures your presentation is impactful, brief, and focused.

Bonus Accompaniment to the Pyramid Principle: The 7Cs Of Communication

Use this checklist in conjunction with the Pyramid principle to uplift your communication effectiveness.

  1. Clear: Identify and communicate the main objective of your presentation.
  2. Concise: Avoid repetitions and redundant information.
  3. Concrete: Provide credible sources and back every claim that you make.
  4. Complete: Ensure you have provided all the necessary details for every point.
  5. Correct: Good grammar and spellings make a world of difference. Ensure you are not making typographical or grammatical errors within your presentations.
  6. Coherent: Always connect your points to your key actionable point or your focus areas. Your slides should reflect your main goal.
  7. Courteous: The tone should be formal, yet friendly. Intimidating language or hostile undertones have no place in a presentation.

These 7Cs of Communication can help you communicate in a way that makes the information accessible, and the audience is able to grasp everything quickly and clearly

SlideUpLift has come up with the perfect solution for summarizing big blocks of information and data in one concise slide that effectively utilizes the space by employing charts, tables, and layout to maximize efficiency. It understands the nuances that make Minto’s Pyramid Principle successful and have employed it, along with the 7 Cs of Communication, to create Executive Summary examples that ensure the best possible structure for communicating more information in less time and fewer words. These are called Executive Summaries Templates, and SlideUpLift provides an extensive library of 100+ fully editable, visually engaging, and creative executive summary examples for every type of business need.

Executive Summary Examples are available for every conceivable business and corporate need, including – Business Proposal Summary, Customer Journey Summary, Business Review Summary, Project Overview Summary, Project Launch Summary, Sales Executive Summary, Financial Plan Summary, etc.

Effective Executive Summary Examples For Your Presentations: 

Executive Summary PowerPoint Template

Executive Summary PowerPoint Template

View Executive Summary PowerPoint Template

Customer Journey Executive Summary

Customer Journey Executive Summary

View Customer Journey Executive Summary Template

Executive Summary PowerPoint

Executive Summary PowerPoint

View Executive Summary PowerPoint

Sales Business Executive Summary

Sales Business Executive Summary

View Sales Business Executive Summary

Project Scope Summary Template

Project Scope Summary Template

View Project Scope Summary Template

We at SlideUpLift believe in the power of effective communication, and want to assist presenters to create the impact they are seeking. You can leverage these executive summary examples and make your presentations engaging impactful and memorable for your audience.

Happy summarizing!

Now you don’t have to scour the web to find out the right templates. Download our PowerPoint Templates from within PowerPoint. See how?

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Categories: blog, Business Presentation Tips