Schools teach you to make your reports longer and (maybe) add a summary. And if they do want a summary, they tell you to put it at the end of the report. WRONG!
It the real world you make the report as long as it needs to be (and no longer) plus…
You include a summery at the beginning of your report to the client!
The summary is literally first. Top half of page one.
How long should the summary be?
I try hard to keep it to just one paragraph. If I find the summary going longer than one paragraph, I really have to look and make sure I have a good reason to add the extra details in it.
Clients love this. Especially attorneys and paralegals. And if they like your reports, the odds are better they’ll hire you for additional work!
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Example of a Surveillance Report Summary
My summary concentrates on what I know is important to the client. While the full report might be several pages long, a four hour surveillance on a workers compensation cheater might be summarized like this…
On November 3, 2021, I, Larry Kaye, State Licensed Private Investigator, conducted surveillance on Johnny Scammer. I observed him drive from his apartment to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and walk inside without a cane. He came out later pushing a cart loaded with 8 bags. He loaded the bags into his car and, reaching above his head, closed the hatchback. He drove back to his apartment and carried the bags up two flights of stairs to his apartment without using a cane or the hand rails. Additionally, I video recorded these activities.
Super simple. Just the basics.
If I was in the client’s office and he asked me, “How’d it go?” as I handed him the written report, the answer to that question is a rough draft of the summary. So, I might say, “It went well. I got him on video driving, lifting groceries and climbing stairs.”
I Hope that’s helpful!