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Dr Evil and Mini-Me

Quick tip: Use AI to make a Mini-Me

Remember the Austin Powers spy spoof movies?

And the ones where supervillain Dr. Evil had a miniature clone of himself, called Mini-Me?

Mini-Me dressed the same, talked the same, and shared many of the same silly tics as Dr. Evil.

But he was a whole lot shorter.

This is how to think about the executive summary of your white paper.

It should be a pint-sized version of your full-length paper. In effect, a Mini-Me.

Why have an executive summary?

This one page gives busy B2B executives a quick overview and all the key takeaways of your paper.

It’s short enough to scan in less than a minute.

Then an executive can make a quick, informed decision:

  • Forget it, this is not for us
  • Could be useful, I’ll send it to my assistant or a colleague to check out
  • Interesting, I’ll spend a bit more time on this

If your summary helps a busy prospect make the right call, it’s a success.

comprising a full-length white paper down to 1 page summary aka Mini-Me

The fast way to create a Mini-Me: AI

Say you’ve written your paper, but haven’t done your executive summary.

Just paste the whole thing into AI and ask for an executive summary of less than 200 words.

Give it a little context, like your audience and your purpose.

Tell it to match the style of the rest of the paper.

Then ask the AI to sum up each section of the main body in a sentence or two, and not to miss any key takeaways.

In less than a minute, you’ll have a draft summary.

You may need to touch it up, but AI can do a pretty good job of making a Mini-Me.

And here’s a great way to give AI a test run

  1. Take a white paper published with an executive summary you wrote.
  2. Delete the exec summary and feed the rest of your paper into AI.
  3. Ask it to write an executive summary of the same length.
  4. Compare what it came up with to what you originally wrote.

How did it do? Did it surprise you?

 


Update: Keeping your client projects confidential

Alert reader Helen McCrone asked me about keeping client projects confidential when you use AI.

Whoops! What an oversight!

I believe there are three likely cases, symbolized by the traffic light.

red green or yellow lights on a stoplight

 

Red: The client says no AI can be used by employees or contractors, due to privacy or other concerns. So you follow the policy and write your executive summary by yourself.

Yellow: The client says we’re concerned about AI learning about our propetary tech, so you can only use AI if you turn off its memory. You can do this, but then you have to trust Big Tech not to snoop through your prompts. Can you trust them?
Green: The client says this project is not proprietary tech, so you’re welcome to use AI as you wish. Go to it.

 

In any case, a wise precaution is to remove or change the company name before you tell AI about its plans.

 


Originally published 27 June 2024. Last updated 11 July 2024. 


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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