C. Munzenmaier Hamilton College Urbandale, IA

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Sharing Your Findings
Abstract Executive Summary
Briefing Paper Resources

After you finish your research, you'll know a lot that could be useful or interesting to others. Your final assignment for CM220 will be to share what you've learned informally. You'll write an abstract, share it with your classmates, and respond to any questions your classmates may have.

Other formats that you might use on the job include


"Writing an abstract involves boiling down the essence of a whole paper into a single paragraph that conveys as much new information as possible," according to December and Katz. They suggest that you first look at your introduction and conclusion, then highlight the main points in the body of your paper, and finally summarize this essential information in one paragraph.

For an argumentative paper, you should first state your thesis, or the stand you are taking. Then you should summarize the arguments you made in favor of your thesis (the pros on your Bridge Organizer).

Executive Summary
An executive summary is a short summary of your paper. How short? That depends. Some teachers ask that it be no more than 6–8 sentences. Others say it should be no more than 10% of the length of your paper.

Teachers may also ask that you include specific headings in your executive summary. If you have conducted a study, typical headings would be Purpose, Methods, Result, Conclusion, and Recommendation.

For CM220, you could use this one-page format:


If you've found some fascinating facts or want to recommend some resources, you might prefer to do a 1–3 page handout. As Rob Parkinson notes, "The formats of briefing notes vary widely," from handwritten notes to binders.

A United Nations briefing paper on AIDS begins with statistics about how many people have the disease, gives an overview of progress in fighting it, and ends with some suggested resources.

The UN format would work well for sharing your findings, but a fact sheet or an annotated bibliography would also be effective. Choose the format that you think will be most convenient for your audience.

You can find other examples by searching for a topic + "fact sheet" or FAQ.

Internet Resources

Giving Presentations

Top Ten Slide Tips (Garr Reynolds)

The Pre-Presentation Jitters (Total Communicator)

Making the Un-Presentation (Total Communicator)

Results from the 2009 Annoying PowerPoint Survey (Paradi)

Brain Rules for PowerPoint Presenters (Presentation Zen)

PowerPointPresentation Advice (Splane)

PowerPoint Presentation Skills: Tips for Effective Presenting (presentation-skills.biz)

How NOT to Present with PowerPoint (presentation-skills.biz)

Video resources: Preparing and Giving Oral Presentations

Writing Abstracts/Executive Summaries

Processes for Writing Abstracts (UColorado)

How to Write an Executive Summary (step-by-step instructions from eHow)

Crafting a Powerful Executive Summary (Harvard Business School)

Model Executive Summary: Rhode Island housing issues (Morrison)

Executive Writing (general tips on writing for executives)

Writing Fact Sheets

What Is a Briefing Note? (Writing for Results)

Briefing Papers for Students (United Nations)

Oxfam Briefing Paper No. 62: Protecting Civilians

Fact Sheet (It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air)





   Copyright in these materials belongs to C. Munzenmaier © 2009.
Teachers are free to reproduce or modify them for nonprofit educational use. 

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