Putting it into Practice

In business, people often don’t have the luxury to read detailed documents in depth, to attend every meeting, or to listen fully to every possible idea. Because time is of the essence, you will need to be able to get your point across as quickly as possible.

You’ve learned strategies for selecting information and reducing wordiness to make your writing as brief as possible while still being complete. Now you are ready to begin practicing and applying the concise competency. In this section, you will learn pointers for how to develop two common forms of concise business communication: executive summaries and meeting minutes.

Message Strategy: Preparing an Executive Summary

An executive summary is a vital business document. It is an abridged synopsis of a longer document or report. It is designed to give busy executives and decision-makers a quick understanding of the main points, findings, and recommendations.

While executive summaries traditionally have been part of a formal report, you also can write stand-alone executive summaries (sometimes called executive briefings) to provide a concise overview of any kind of event or issue.

There are different reasons for preparing executive summaries. For instance, if you a developing a lengthy business plan proposal, you may create an executive summary that will be included in the front of the written report. If your business plan is pitched as a presentation with a slide deck (and not as a written report), you may prepare an executive summary as a one-page handout at the presentation. There may be other times when you are asked by a boss to review and report on a particular matter and you may have to do some independent research and summarize it into a short, high-level briefing that can be quickly digested.

Below are the steps to follow for writing executive summaries.

Do the Leg Work

The first step of preparing an accurate and comprehensive summary, is to gain a full understanding of what you are summarizing. Read the entire report carefully, review the full pitch deck, gather all the facts, or do whatever else work is necessary to see the full picture.

Locate the Main Ideas

You should be able to identify the big idea and articulate it in a sentence or two. What is the primary purpose of the document, idea, or matter you are summarizing? For example, is someone recommending a new vendor? Is there a particular problem that is being brought to your attention? Will there be a change coming?

You should also highlight or take notes on the critical points, data, and recommendations.

Write an Introduction

Begin the executive summary with a brief introduction that explains the purpose of the document. It is important to describe what the report covers.

Summarize the Key Points

Present a concise overview of the main points from each section of the full document. Use clear and straightforward language. Avoid jargon or overly technical terms that may not be familiar to the intended audience.

One way to determine if something is a key point is to ask yourself, is this piece of information essential to making a decision on this matter? If it is, then chances are it is key point.

Keep It Short

Executive summaries usually are 1-2 pages long. But keep in mind that while that is a good rule of thumb, there are times when even one page will be too long. For instance, if you are preparing an executive summary of a 4-page report, a 2-page summary is half the length of the full document. In that case, you are likely giving so much information that the executive summary has become redundant and is taking more time for the receiver than just reading the original document.


Bike-to-Work Feasibility Report
Executive Summary

With the growing concern for environmental sustainability and employee well-being, Cardinal Company charged the Sustainability Task Force with conducting a feasibility analysis of a bike-to-work initiative for possible implementation by Spring 2024.

The Bike-to-Work Feasibility Report outlines employee feedback on their interest in the program, current commuting patterns, environmental impact projections, necessary infrastructure changes necessary to support the program, and a proposed budget.

Overall, findings indicate that a bike-to-work program is a viable option. Employees indicated strong support for the bike-to-work program. More than half the workforce expressed interest in participating, citing health benefits, reduced commuting stress, and environmental concerns as primary motivations.

Environmental impact projections indicate that the bike-to-work program would have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions and reducing traffic congestion in the downtown area.

A significant start-up investment will be required to build the necessary infrastructure improvements, such as bike racks and increased security. Additionally, Cardinal Company should develop a clear policy framework and incentives for participating in the program, as well as organize awareness campaigns and training sessions to promote bike safety and proper commuting etiquette.

The bike-to-work program is projected to lead to long-term benefits for Cardinal Company, its employees, and the environment.

Message Strategy: Taking Meeting Minutes

Another document that is important in business contexts is meeting minutes. Meeting minutes are a written record that documents discussions, decisions, and actions taken during meetings.

Meeting minutes can be used as a reminder of particular actions taken, including when and why certain decisions were made. They can be a tool to keep organizational members accountable and for keeping up momentum on work being done. Minutes also are a good way for organizations to maintain transparency.

The key to writing good meeting minutes is to convey the important things that happened in the meeting as concisely as possible. That means that you provide enough information that if someone has to miss the meeting, they can learn what happened and what actions need to be taken moving forward.

Here are some tips for writing good meeting minutes.

Take Minutes in a Timely Fashion

If you are going to write good minutes, you will need good notes. So grab your pen and paper – or a computer – before the meeting starts and take notes during the meeting. Then finish the meeting minutes as soon as possible after the meeting while the discussions and decisions are still fresh in your mind. The sooner you write the minutes, the more accurate you will be.

Create a Header

At the top of the document, list the meeting title or subject for reference. Then note the date of the meeting at the top of the document. Also include “Minutes” as part of the header.

Add an Attendee List

Provide a list of attendees at the meeting. You may also note anyone absent. In an era of hybrid meetings, you may also want to indicate how each person joined (in-person or online).

For some meetings—like for a company-wide meeting—it may not be practical to list every attendee present. So in those cases, you may want to include attendee information in aggregate form. For example, you may simply list, “More than 300 employees in attendance.”

Record Discussion Points Concisely

The most difficult step of writing minutes is capturing the key discussion points and significant contributions made by participants at the right level of detail.

If you put in too much detail, your minutes will not provide a concise record and people will find it difficult to read. If you leave out too much detail you won’t have a sufficient record of what happened.

Think of the difference between these two minutes summaries:

Summary 1: The CEO presented an overview of the budget.

Summary 2: The CEO presented an overview of the budget. Even though revenues are up 5% this quarter, with rising prices for raw materials and shipping costs, overall profits are down 3%.

Document Decisions

Clearly state any decisions made during the meeting. Include the rationale behind the decisions, if applicable.

Assign Action Items

Note any action items assigned to specific individuals or teams, along with deadlines or due dates.

Distribute the Minutes

Once you have drafted the minutes, distribute them to the meeting participants. Depending on the organization’s practices, you may circulate the minutes via email or share them through a document-sharing platform. You may also ask participants to review and send any corrections or revisions before a final version is approved.


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
March 6, 2024 @ 1 PM
Meeting Minutes

In-Person Attendees: Jamie Robinson (Committee Chair), Avery Brooks, Quinn Brown, Isaac Martinez, and Sofia Ramirez
Online Attendees: Reese Cooper, Cameron Lewis, Casey Mitchell
Absent: Leila Hall, David Wagnall

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes. The minutes of the February 3 meeting were approved.

Welcome to New Members. Jamie Robinson welcomed the committee’s two newest members: Isaac Martinez and Cameron Lewis.

Lunch & Learn Update. Sofia Ramirez reported on the February Lunch & Learn on Generations at Work. 42 people attended the event. Responses from the post-event surveys showed that people really enjoyed this session and learned a lot. The committee decided to repeat this topic next year.

The next Lunch and Learn is scheduled for March 18. The topic is Understanding Neurodiversity in the Workplace. There are 21 registrations so far.

Action Item: All members agreed to send personalized email reminder to their own department and encourage people to attend.

DEI Annual Celebration Planning. The DEI Annual Celebration scheduled for September 15. Celebration Co-Chairs Avery Brooks and Reese Cooper provided an update on logistics.

  • The $20,000 budget request was approved
  • The Downtown Conference Center has been reserved for September 15
  • CEO Marli Gruen has committed to deliver the opening remarks

Committee members brainstormed conference themes and selected “Building Bridges” as the overarching theme of the conference.

Action Item: Casey Mitchell agreed to work with Avery to identify three prospective keynote speakers that will fit with the overarching theme. They will present the finalists at the next meeting and the committee will select their favorite.

Action Item: Cameron Lewis will get menus and price quotes from the two company-approved caterers. Menus must include vegan and gluten-free options. He will present the options at the next meeting.

Action Item: Quinn Brown will develop a mock-up of a logo for the conference and draft a Save the Date announcement to be reviewed and approved at the next meeting.

Reminders. Jamie Robinson reminded everyone to complete the Climate Survey by Friday.

Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 3:45 PM. The next meeting is scheduled for April 3, 2024.

Meeting Minutes Prepared By: Isaac Martinez



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Business Communication: Five Core Competencies Copyright © 2023 by Kristen Lucas, Jacob D. Rawlins, and Jenna Haugen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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