The “Executive Summary” feature

I've heard this phrase used several times, and the first few times I was mystified. What is this magical 'executive summary' feature in Outlook? Is it some magical content-parser that extrapolates the key terms from a message? Can it slice, dice and put a home cooked meal on the table by the time father gets home?

Eventually, I uncovered the truth - this is just another way of referring to AutoPreview (or 'three line preview' as it is also called). The reason it's called the executive summary feature by some is a way of emphasizing how to structure email to make sure that upper management actually reads it - put the most important information in the first three lines of the email.

But really, this is good advice for almost any (work-related) email - make sure the most important point you want to make (or a summary of the most important points, or your 'asks', etc) is at the very top of the mail. Make your point loud and clear - as the recipients are skimming the email, they shouldn't have to read through paragraphs to find out why you're sending the mail.

Comments (4)

  1. AndrewSeven says:

    I thought that the subject was supposed to indicate the subject of your email.

    "Executive Summary" == Surface Skimming?

  2. KC Lemson says:

    My two cents:

    The subject should absolutely be contextual to the overall thread, but the specific point being made in that individual message may just be one piece of the thread, and as other people chime in with their opinions, an ever-changing subject would be a little chaotic.

    Personally, I don’t like having the subject change in the middle of a thread (unless the current discussion is *way* off topic of the original one), although some people like to do that. For me, looking at the list of messages, I like to see the old subject because I remember "That’s the discussion about such and such…" whereas if the subject changed often, I’d have to open the message each time to figure out what the thread is about.

  3. AndrewSeven says:

    I think I will be happy just to be free of the email that is CC’ed to 6 people with any one (and only one) of the following as the subject :"problem","wierd","wierd?","more bugs?","intranet…","guys"

    I turn them into Client Acronym :: Site :: Bug/Problem :: Description + word from list above.

    This gives a subject like AYC :: :: BUG :: wierd

    It isn’t great, but at least they get together in a list of email. T

    he whole thing should really go through a CRM system instead of me.

  4. KC Lemson says:

    I feel your pain – I often get mails with subjects like "question about bug #2341". I’m sure there are some far more elegant workflow solutions that already exist or could be developed for much of what I handle through email. Getting people (including myself) to use such a system, however, is the hard part…

Skip to main content