A famous Dutch TV interview features ‘meneer Mandje’. That means ‘Mr. Basket’.

He is interviewed about antiques. The friendly, older gentleman holds up a Delft blue object.

This is a very nice basket made by the company Tichelaar. It was used on the table as decoration and as a fruit basket.

The interviewer is relentless: ‘Way too long, make it shorter!’

Mr. Basket tries again.

Basket by Tichelaar, made in Makkum.

The interviewer again: ‘Even shorter.’

Basket by Tichelaar.

Mr. Basket looks at the interviewer with frightened eyes. The interviewer remains strict. ‘Even shorter. Short!’


Every time I watch the video, I feel pity.

I think a lot of knowledge workers will recognize Mr. Basket’s pain. If you communicate about your subject to a wide audience, you always have to dump down your message.

Still, what Mr. Basket is trying to do aligns with an important piece of writing advice: avoid redundancy.

Avoiding redundancy means that you relentlessly check which words can be deleted. So that you can get to the core.

Want to try yourself?

The following sentence can be reduced to four words:

It’s important to remember to always wear your seatbelt when you drive in your car.

Good luck!