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#PulpNonFiction: Advertisers, be clear about what you want to say and why!

If you can't explain something in simple terms, you don't understand it. ~ Richard Feynman

I’ve been reading Richard Feynman’s QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Richard Feynman was a Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist, bongo drum player and an all-around interesting and eccentric guy. He was also a fantastic communicator.

QED stands for quantum electrodynamics, which describes how light and matter interact and links the theories of quantum mechanics and special relativity; not exactly an easy field to understand - or to explain - unless you are Richard Feynman. The book QED is a collection of transcripts of a series of lectures Richard gave to the general public; for people without any technical or academic background to quantum or theoretical physics about his field and work.

The extraordinary thing about these lecturers is how easy to follow and understand they are, in spite of the complexity of the subject matter covered. Richard had a gift for explaining intricate ideas in human terms, without dumbing them down.

Do you know what you are trying to say?


This of course, should be a lesson to brands, marketers and other communicators when it comes to the marketing messages we send out into the world.

All too often, marketing messages are obscured by flowery language, smug jargon, and clever ideas that make it difficult for one’s audience to understand what it is that you are actually trying to say and what it is that you would like your audience to do after receiving your message.

All too often, this confusion is a result of the marketer or advertiser not being sure of what it is they want to say or why they are saying it.

If Richard Feynman could get non-physicists to understand what quarks are and what we do and don’t know about how electrons and protons behave (even when they are behaving badly), then there is no excuse for corporate communication that fails to communicate a clear message and call to action.

If you are unable to communicate clearly and convincingly, it is probably because you don’t know what it is you are actually trying to say.

About Bronwyn Williams

Futurist, economist and trend analyst. Partner at Flux Trends.
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