Business Books: 3 Parts of Effective Chapter Structure

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People read business books to make progress and they want every chapter to move them forward. When I read your book, here’s what I want in every chapter.

A great chapter opening

The opening of every chapter should draw me in and give me a reason to read the chapter. Here are three ways to do that.

Tell a relevant story

Human beings are story telling animals. We love stories and use them to share information and insights. Open your chapter with a story that demonstrates a problem I’m likely to have. Then promise me a solution.

Make a provocative statement

A provocative statement or a stunning statistic can make me want to find out more. Follow it up with a hint or a promise that the body of the chapter will support or explain the statement.

Make a promise

Tell me what I’ll find in the chapter. This is not as dramatic as using a story or a provocative statement, but it works well.

The body of the chapter

These three things should be in every chapter in your book. They don’t need to be in any particular order.

Make your point

There should be one major point per chapter. Don’t hint at it. Don’t expect me to connect your dots. Forget subtlety. Make your point clearly.

Give me a concrete example

It’s the power of story again. Use a concrete example that illustrates your point.

Support your point with the 3 S’s of research

Stories are great but they can’t carry the load alone. Support your point with references to research. Use one or more of the 3 S’s: surveys, studies, and statistics.

Wrap up and move forward

End the chapter with a look back and a look forward. Help me use what I’ve learned so far, then tell me what’s still to come.

Recap the lessons

Sum up the important points of the chapter. This is a good place for a simple chart or graphic. Exercises or action steps work well, too.

Tell me what’s next

The last challenge is to get me to turn the page. So give me an idea of what’s in the next chapter and why I should read it.

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