How to Build a One Page Summary of Anything

We are communicating every day, whether you want it or not…

When you type an email, you write a report, make a presentation, verbally or non verbally you are communicating!

Today we will be focusing on how to make your written communication even better than now.

You have to be considerate of 2 things: the audience and you.

Let’s Start With You… Your work is the reflection of yourself. Anything you do is the external manifestation of your qualities and capabilities. The fact is that some are written, therefore remains makes it more important. In verbal settings, your performance is not retained elsewhere than the memories of the participants, but the written ones, you will never know where they might surface later on, so you better focus and do the best you can.

The Audience… It’s not you, so when you write the message has to be constructed for them, tailored and carefully crafted. Also, you have to show your respect for being concise and well targeted. You cannot waste their time or your time, with an improperly compiled message which does not achieve its intended purpose.

Great…. Now we are all scared to write an email…. Not at all the case. As anything in business (or life) to create a great one-page summary you’ll need to follow three steps:

Step 1 – Create the Ultimate Message

This is the most important part: what you want to achieve with the message? Inform, take action…. These are the major categories. So basically you write the last part of the communication first, make sure that it is crystal clear, what the message is. If we are talking email, this is a last sentence before the ending part…. What do I want the audience to do or remember…? One thing no more.

If you talk in PowerPoint terms this is the sentence on the bottom of the slide, preferably one line text with roughly font size 20…. If it does not fit to one line try to reconsider unless you are using super long words for whatever reason like “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”, which is a lung disease as I was told…. Try to avoid these unless you are a scientist and you are talking to a group of other scientists, but even with them they will not have to remember that word, they would have to remember the thing about it or the thing what they have to do.

Step 2 – Create Your Entry

This is your opening sentence in your communication, almost as summarized as the message that leads the audience into the chain of thoughts from where they are into the comprehension of the final message.

If the piece of work is an email, that it is a situational summary, if it is part of a longer presentation, you have to lead from the previous section into the page you are on. Imagine this as the “opening statement” of a lawyer in court, it has a powerful message on its own and gets the jury focused.

Step 3- Build the Logical Chain to Your Final Message from the Entry point

You have to support your information with facts, data, emotions and whatever to make the Final Message stick in the audiences head. They will not have to remember these, they have to remember the final message. But these have to be powerful enough to make them remember or make them do whatever they have to do. Again the courtroom analogy, this is all the pieces of evidence and witnesses the lawyer presents to support the case and influence the judge or the jury to make their final call.

Bonus Track – If Any of you Remember from the DVDs we Used to Use….

If this is an email, the subject is a message on its own. You are fighting with the massive overflow of emails, so you have to be very good at formalizing the subject line for people to open your email at all. What I found interesting on this in the corporate world is that if you use similar tactics that the marketing people use on the emails when they try to convince you to buy something then it becomes much more effective. Again, remind yourself that if it is important to you, than you want to make sure that it gets opened and read to the end, better be short than…

Enjoy the Journey and Deliver Results!


Author: Gabor Gleisz

Internationally experienced manager with a passion for coaching people how to bring the best out of themselves.

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