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Enough Fluff

by Randall Craig on November 3, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

In today’s society, we are surrounded by fluff: low value information whose noise gets in the way of solid analysis, improved relationships, and personal excellence. Some of the fluff is mis-aimed advertising, some fluff is reply-all emails, and other fluff is “analysis” that doesn’t really analyze. We see fluff at meetings that go on too long, and ingest fluff at corporate presentations that are high on staging but low on content. It’s everywhere.

With such an indictment, how can we make sure that we ourselves aren’t part of the problem? How do we ensure that we are actually producing value? There are four main ways of doing this:

1) Target the audience: Whether you are making a presentation, posting a blog, or writing a simple email, consider who is receiving what you send. The more you can address what they care about, the more relevant your message will be. Relevance drives value.

2) Help people think: Another way to add value is to do more than just communicate facts: dig deeper and also present implications. A useful technique is to answer the question “and this means that…” for many of your sentences.

3) Focus on action: If the information doesn’t cause a change in attitude or behavior, then why was it communicated in the first place? (Often because of a need for personal recognition.) By helping others move from knowledge to action, you can grow the value of the interaction well into the future.

4) Call it when you see it: Help your colleagues increase their own value by coaching them through your information needs. And helping them develop targeting, thinking, and action skills.
(Consider sharing this Tipsheet with them?)

This week’s action plan: Most people know about targeting and action, but what about thinking? This week, take the So what? test to whatever you write: a blog, a simple email, or a major report. If you can answer the So what? question for each paragraph, then you’ll be adding value – not fluff.

Bonus action plan: Long-time readers may notice that the vast majority of these Tipsheets end with “This week’s action plan”. See for yourself whether this model works, and review the structure of past Tipsheets. They’re at

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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