3 things every business book chapter should have

Aug 19, 2014 | Writing A Book

I’m a preacher’s boy, so I perk up whenever I encounter a theological term out of context. This weekend a friend of mine mentioned “The Holy Trinity of Cajun Cuisine.” She meant onions, celery and bell pepper. A little research taught me that the term was popularized by Paul Prudhomme and that other cuisines have similar “trinities.”

French cooks have a mixture of celery, onions, and carrots called mirepoix. For some Chinese cooking it’s garlic, ginger, and chiles and for some Italian cuisine, it’s tomato, garlic, and basil. If you’re cooking up a business book, your Holy Trinity is points, proof, and stories and examples.

Every core chapter of your book should have all three.

Make your point

What do you want me to learn from the chapter? Don’t expect me to guess. Make the point explicitly. In Scaling Up Excellence, Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao make the main point of their first chapter this way.

“Scaling requires grinding it out, and pressing each person, team, group, division, or organization to make one small change after another in what they believe, feel, or do.”

Support your point with the 3 S’s of data

We love numbers. We love them even more if there’s a decimal point involved. Use the 3 S’s of data to support your point. Cite statistics, surveys, and studies.

Illustrate your point with stories and examples

Stories are the way human beings make sense of complex issues. Stories have been the primary way we’ve shared meaning for as long as we’ve had language.

Use full length stories to create an emotional connection between your reader and your point. Use other, shorter, examples to give your readers things to remember easily. People write down statistics, but they remember stories.

Bottom Line

Great business books make helpful points and support them with stories and research in every chapter.

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