Paul Castain's Blog

The Fluff/Substance Conundrum

Posted September 28, 2010

As an accomplished public speaker, I consider school in session (for me) several times a week by watching various speakers via Youttube, webinars etc. It’s something I recommend to everyone I coach and I will guarantee you that you won’t leave that development time empty handed.

Now, I’m about to go off on a half rant. A half rant is when I’ll harness my inner smart ass and tell you how I really think about something but then bring it around to some tangible take aways.

Fair enough?

OK, I’m going to do this one sans foreplay . . .

I can’t stand it when someone goes over the top with fluff at the cost of substance!

I was listening to someone the other day on an internet radio interview who was all “Honey” this and “Girlfriend” that. Now aside from the fact that I’m a card carrying “dude”, congrats, you aren’t giving me anything. No content. No substance. Nada!

She was confusing “attitude” (which I dig by the way) with content. So I opted out after about 5 mins of glorified nothing.

All I got was a Red Bull adrenaline shot with the debilitating crash!

And you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about too.

There you are feeling all good and pumped up and then its like someone left you high and freakin dry without cab fare on your night table! Why? Because there wasn’t anything for you to sink your teeth into!

On the other hand, I’ve met some brilliant people who induce “outer body experiences” with their monotone, boring, mundane and otherwise awful presentations.

This one bothers me to no end because in most cases they were people who had a cool product or service but just sucked at keeping the attention of their audience. And to make matters worse, they weren’t paying attention to the signs that people were mentally checking out!

So which is worse . . .

All fluff but no substance?

Great substance but outer body experience inducing?

Well before this resembles a trip to the Eye Doctor who keeps asking “One better or two. One or two?” I think you actually need careful measurements of both!

And just so I don’t go all “Fluff” on you today, here’s some substance to chew on:

1)    Energy and enthusiasm go a long way in business. Heck, you can even bump those bad boys up a notch or three and demonstrate a true passion for what you do. Just make sure you give them a side order of “tangible”.

2)    One way to kick up your substance quotient is to offer “Evidence” such as a cool demonstration of your product, Samples, Facts (and cite your source) Examples, Analogies, A good story to illustrate a point, Testimonials and Statistics. Now who the hell can’t bite into that stuff you anti fluffernutter rock star! 

3)    Video yourself when you practice. Watch the video and ask yourself if you would believe that dude if you were on the other side of that presentation. Does your “BS – O – Meter” go off? Do you look confident? How about your mannerisms. Your “ums” “you knows”?  Did you go to say something and one of those low pitch throat burps sort of happen? Sorry, but they count as fluff!

4)    Whenever you practice, make sure you are clearly articulating your “main thing”. Your “main thing” in this context is your point. Ask yourself “If I were listening to this, what would I take away?” If the answer is nothing . . . then you just caught the fluff monster dead in his tracks! Kudos! Note: Your prospect is pretty good at spotting bull sh*t too. Don’t ever forget that!

5)    Tape yourself: Taping yourself will keep you focused on your words, your tonality etc. Note: If you find that you are boring yourself into an outer body experience . . . there’s your sign! How’s your energy level? Can you hear passion in your voice bro’chocho? One cool thing you might want to do is use crescendos, decrescendos some strategically placed pauses.

6)    The 2-5 Min Rule: Every 2 minutes you must make your presentation interactive somehow. How? Ask a question and then facilitate dialogue (isn’t that an important part of collaborative selling?) Hand them a calculator and have them crunch numbers so they experience your point. The point is to come up for air every now and again and get them talking.  By the way . . . this is how you re engage someone who is just starting to pack their bags for that outer body experience.  Or you could simply clap your hands at the person and yell wake up if you are certain you will win the lottery at some point in the next few days.

7)    Group Training: Get together with your team (or even some people from your network or mastermind group) and take turns doing a presentation of your choice. It could be company presentations, a product specific presentation, presenting an article or book report etc. Evaluate each other and make sure there’s a healthy mix of “fluff” and substance. If someone goes over the top in either direction . . . you need to offer your constructive feedback.

So today I want you to focus on your message. You certainly don’t have to be like the Dos Equis dude and transform into the most interesting dude in the world. Just beware of those outer body experiences.

And as far as fluff, well please save that for something I’d tell you to save it for if I knew what to write here. 🙂

Keep it real!

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