Dear Colleagues,

On a regular basis, you will often be confronted with requests for a quick summary of some lengthy meeting or series of documents. You will have to provide the key ideas in simple easy-to-read English with no jargon. Seemingly an intractable task.

Herewith a few tips on achieving this task:

  • Identify what you want to achieve with the summary
  • Consider who your audience is, what they already know and what they want from your summary?
  • Initially do a brain dump on everything you can think of relating to the topic. Don’t worry about the clutter of detail. Just write everything down in a roughly logical sequence.
  • Choose the key facts – eliminate all irrelevant detail by considering what your audience want from it (For every detail ask the question: Does my audience absolutely need to know this?)
  • Avoid technical jargon. Stick to simple understandable English. Avoid any diversions. Use active case with verbs rather than roundabout language.
  • Order the sequence of information so that it is logical and easy to understand.
  • Ensure that your write-up is objective and unbiased (by your experiences for example).
  • Come back after a few hours (or even a day) and re-read what you have written and ensure that it is easy to understand.
  • If you are presenting this; practise and practise until you are perfect and able to handle any awkward questions.

I really love this comment by Edwin Schlossberg:

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.

Yours in engineering learning,


The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.