Writing a killer executive summary

For any tender writer or proposal writer, writing an executive summary is an absolutely crucial part of the success process.

Many moons ago when I first started writing tenders, I was taught to write the executive summary last. But as my experience developed, I found it easier to write a draft executive summary first, before I started on the main sections of the tender response.


Well, because the executive summary brings together the key points that you want to make in your tender response or proposal, it acts like a roadmap. By following the map, you ensure you’re covering your key strategic selling points as you write the tender or proposal.

It’s important to start each executive summary with your prospective client’s name, so the first word they read is their own. From there, you can set out your understanding of the client’s needs. Tell them what they’ve told you at the briefing, conversation or meeting or in the Request for Tender of Request for Proposal.

The remainder of the executive summary presents your business’ solutions in brief. That is, how you will add value. Rather than being about what you do and how you do it, the executive summary is your opportunity to succinctly describe what the client will gain by choosing your firm.

Finally, limit your executive summary to no more than two pages. Keep the details for the rest of your tender or proposal.

Rosemary Gillespie

Founded Proof Communications in 2000, Rosemary is a tender writer, editor and proofreader.

View all articles by Rosemary Gillespie

1 thought on “Writing a killer executive summary

  1. Great post – shows your experience and insight from writing business tenders over many years. I’ve found the same to be true of awards writing. Better to start the process with a well constructed Exec Summary/overview. It set’s the tone and guides the writer for the rest of the submission. But it’s also contrary to conventional wisdom: save the summary until the end! I suppose it depends on whether you’re writing with an understanding of the business key strengths, positioning and strategy at the start of the process or whether you are using the writing as means to discovery.

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