The Finanser LogoThe Finanser Logo

Chris Skinner's blog

Shaping the future of finance

Tell me everything in ten words or less

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Some years ago, I remember seeing a company whose boss believed that you should be able to say everything you need to say in a subject line. Over the years, I’ve taken that to heart and often write to colleagues with a simple summary subject line and often no content in the email.

  • Have you done the ABC report?
  • Can we meet on Monday re ABC?
  • Has ABC paid?
  • When is the next meeting with ABC?

You get the idea. I don’t see the point of adding Dear you, regards Chris and more text. If you can send an email with a headline, surely that’s enough. In fact, to be specific, twitter has trained us to be this way. Twitter, which is now over ten years old, trained us to give updates of less than 140 characters. Why send more?

The issue is that this has created a huge ADD issue. ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, has come to the fore because we can no longer concentrate for more than 140 characters. Do you read books? Do you read long articles? Do you read this blog to the end? Is it worth it?

I know that I suffer from ADD these days. If someone makes a boring presentation, I play with my phone. Often, I find myself playing games on my phone whilst watching a movie. I know that I can’t read long articles anymore. How bad is that for a guy who’s an author?

Nah. It needs to hit me in the face upfront or it’s not worth it. It builds on something I’ve mentioned before, which is the ten-word headline. When communicating, you need the ten-word headline, the 100-word summary and then the real deal everything.

These days, don’t send me 1,000 words or more. Send me the 10-word eye-grabber.

But it’s more than this. I always remember losing a deal years ago. We had produced a beautiful document proposal, answering everything in depth. The document looked great, was bound brilliantly, and could easily have been something you would have inherited.

But we lost the deal?

Why? It turns out our document was black and white and the competitor’s was in colour. More than that, our wordcount was 45,000 words and theirs was 3,000. Being able to articulate what you think in a few words is a gift.

“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Mark Twain

It takes time to deconstruct what you want to say into a few words, but it’s worth the time to do that. That’s why I think it’s ok to just write a subject line on an email, to send less than 140 characters, to just say what you want to say.

What are you trying to say? Do you have to make it 1,000 words or more?

Oh, and fyi, this article is just under 500 words, which is my usual.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

Digital Transformation Programme

Learn directly from from one of the most influential people in technology, gain insights from the world's most innovative companies, and build a global network.

Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on FinTech 2022

Chris Skinner
Commentator, CEO of The Finanser and best-selling author at The Finanser

Thinkers360 Thought Leader

Contact Me

Best Financial Services Blogger

Chris’s latest book

Chris Skinner’s ‘Digital For Good’ Book Launch Event – CFTE

Global Awards

Best CEO of the Year UK 2022

Best Digital Finance Provider of the Year UK 2022

Best Financial Markets Adviser of the Year UK 2022

Portal to the Knowledge Base of the Financial Services Club UK 2022

Financial Markets Advisor of the Year UK 2022

Corporate America Today Annual Awards

Best Financial Markets Adviser of the Year UK 2022

Portal to the Knowledge Base of the Financial Services Club UK 2022

Financial Markets Advisor of the Year UK 2022

Nominee of MAD33 2021

Kids creating the future bank | TEDxAthens

Join me on Linkedin

Follow Me on Twitter!

UK’s most influential person in technology

Captain Cake and the Candy Crew

Captain Cake Winner of a Golden Mom’s Choice Award


TheNextWeb – #tnw

Learn more about Chris

About Chris Skinner

Presentation at ZBP, September 2020, Warsaw, Poland

Alex at the Financial Services

Gaping Void's Hugh MacLeod worked with the Finanser