“Just yell duck! A lot of us died by the time you finished talking.”

Debra Jasper
Debra Jasper // September 26, 2016

By Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard

We talk too much. We write too much. And we definitely send too much email.

Most professionals get and send about 150 emails every day at work – 150 a day. And it’s not just the emails. It’s the countless texts, constant interruptions and the meetings that drone on and on. Not to mention the ads, the tweets, the posts and the pins. These days, a social media user sees 54,000 words a day on social platforms alone.

It’s painful. We all feel it—the frustration of never quite being able to catch up or even keep pace with a never ending barrage of information.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We could change a great deal if all of us committed today to stop being the Knight on the Horse.

What in the world does that mean?

At Mindset Digital, we help professionals adapt to what we call “The New Realities.” For years, we’ve given keynote talks focused on the need for professionals—today more than ever—to get to the point. To stop using our jargon-y, serious and seriously boring professional language.

After delivering a “New Realities” keynote last spring at the Australian PeSA Internet Conference, Phil Leahy, who organized the conference, said we absolutely had to catch the first episode of a new Australian TV show called Open Slather.

“You have to watch the Knight on the Horse sketch – it illustrates everything you talked about,” he said. “It’s hilarious.”

We watched the sketch, laughed out loud, and realized–as you’ll find when you click on the video below—that the show’s “cut down on the wordage” message is so funny because it’s so true.

The knight on the horse not only can’t stop talking in his insider, tribal language—he can’t stop talking, period.

He’s caught up in what we at Mindset Digital call “the curse of expertise.” He blathers on (like so many of us do in meetings) while his troops on the ground are groaning, rolling their eyes and looking away (like so many of us do in meetings).

The sketch drives home in a clever way what we’ve long been teaching at Mindset Digital: The new realities of managing in a hyper-distracted world require us to adopt a digital-first approach in everything we do, even old-school technologies like email.

That means we must:

  • write clearer, super short emails
  • make all of our communications—from project briefs to investor updates—shorter, more informal, engaging and easier to read
  • tell visual stories (think TED, not text)

So watch the video. Show it to your colleagues. And then let’s all make a serious commitment to stop the madness, use plain language and communicate to inform, rather than impress.

And the next time you need to create a report, an email or a presentation, take a tip from the pithy honored knight, proud champion of bravery and brevity:

Say less, convey more.

And don’t forget to duck.

Cautionary note: At the end of this video, the knight throws in a bit of cursing. It’s funny – but if your colleagues aren’t OK with that, don’t show this at work.

Recommendation: Check out Open Slather online. If you like Monty Python, you’ll love this show.


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