Lecture and Tutorial Plan

This is the lecture and tutorial plan used by Rachel Griffith at the University of Manchester


8 x 2-hour lectures

4 x 1-hour tutorials (groups of 6)

4 x 1-hour practical in computer lab

20% tutorials and participation, 20% infographic, 20% policy brief, 40% verbal presentation

Lecture 1

Introduction to the aims and structure of the course; discussion of the working methods of the course and assessment; discussion of different forms of communication as a professional economist; discussion of some of the evidence on how people process and remember information, and what this implies for how we can communicate more effectively

Research by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and coauthors, wikipedia, colonoscopy study

Arora "Presentation Success Formula: How to Start Strong and End Powerfully"

Introduction to storyboarding, what it is, why we do it, how we do it

What are storyboards?

- Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014)"The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking" Psychological Science

- Chatfield (2015) "Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain" The Guardian

- James and Engelhardt (2012) "The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children" Trends in Neuroscience and Education

Exercise on storyboarding

- students work together in groups of 2 or 3 to develop a storyboard for a talk to your boss in a firm, your boss is not an economist

- identify a key message, make a storyboards for how would you communicate this key idea to your boss if you worked in a firm and you had 10 minutes

get one student present to class; class discussion

- make a new storyboard if you had only 1minute; get a different student to presents; discuss the differences; point is to get students to think about how you can distil you key message down

- note that the average person speaks 125-150 words per minute

- some guides on creating storyboards: Royal Roads University, boards.com, storyboardthat.com

- review of basic rules of writing and discussion of writing as a professional economist

-- The secrets of good paragraph writing

-- Basic paragraph structure

-- Six rules for writing about economics

-- complete assignment for tutorial 1 and upload to Piazza

Tutorial 1

Choose from one of the topics.

Write an email to your boss that is around 2-3 paragraphs that summarises the topic. This should be written as a professional economist. It should provide a high level summary of the key issue(s), a motivation for why is an interesting/important topic and give some idea of what further information you could provide if she wanted to know more.

In the tutorial we will discuss the emails and students will upload constructive criticism on each other on Piazza. Students only get full participation marks if they upload at least on positive and negative piece of constructive criticism. Please consider:

- how well the email conveys the substance of the topic

- whether the content of the paragraphs is accurate

- how well the paragraphs are structured

- whether the content is engaging and easy to read

- what edits could be made to improve the email

Lecture 2

It is important to know who your audience is. What are their interests? What is there level of knowledge. For example, what is their level of numeracy?

Methods for presenting facts and figures to different audiences. Lies, damned lies, and statistics: Numbers are very persuasive. But numbers are always constructed for specific purposes; they involve making difficult choices, many of which remain opaque to their users.  Fake news and post-truth economics.


Bhutora, Jerrim and Vignoles (2018) "The financial skills of adults across the world"

Heer and Bostock (2010) "Crowdsourcing graphical perception using Mechanic Turk to assess visualization design"

Healy Data Visualization

Edward Tufte (1983) The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Calling Bullshit: data reasoning in a digital world

Our world in data

Michele Belot "The trouble with fake news" RES Newsletter July 2019

It is crucial that you identify your key message and focus on that; if you aren't clear what you are trying to say how will the audience get the message?  Methods for keeping an audience engaged, storytelling and other arcs.

Some examples of storytelling via video and film:

- IFS Youtube channel

- IFS "What is inequality?"

- IFS "What are the options for raising tax?"

Bank of Jamaica


Economics in films

Some videos that use graphics well:

A Libra Induced Recession

Climate Changing the Market

Banks & Billionaires: Not All Evil

Nature of Nurture: Lessons from Jewish History

Economists and Scientists on Twitter

Computer lab 1

The aims of this session are:

- ensure you can upload a video to Piazza

- ensure you have some experience of talking for 2 minutes

- ensure you have made a storyboard

- ensure you have given constructive comment to help other students improve their videos

- ensure you know the basics of infographic and presentation software


- Produce a storyboard for a 2 minute presentation on a key idea/concept/fact from your assigned topic (see assignments in Topics folder)

- Your audience is the same as in Lecture 1 and tutorial 1, an adult with a degree in an arts subject and with no particular knowledge of economics

- Upload your storyboard to Piazza BEFORE the lab; as well as answering the questions as we did in lecture 1, I suggest you try sketching out how you will use the 2 minutes - what will you say in the first 15 seconds, what will you say in the last 15 seconds, how will you divide the time in between; you can do that in words or using graphics as in some of the examples in the links in Lecture 1

- Film a 2 minute presentation on the assigned topic on your phone or computer and upload it to Piazza BEFORE the lab

- Please upload the storyboard and video as a question (this is an option across the top), so that other students and I can post comments as answers

- If you have not been able to upload your storyboard and video to Piazza you will do this at the start of the lab.

- During the lab Students will work in groups to write constructive comments on each others storyboards and videos; these comments should be written in Piazza as comments on the upload before the lab finishes. Please remember that giving constructive comments means saying what is good and works well AND saying what does not work so well and giving specific comments on how it could be improved.

- Work in pairs to give constructive criticism on each other's videos, make sure that you give at least two specific pieces of constructive criticism, i.e. something that the other person can take away and use to make their presentation better

Lecture 3

Giving a live presentation; body language and using your body as a visual aid;  verbal presentation skills. We will discuss some examples of good and bad body language and good and bad verbal skills.

What is uptalk? (short video)

Planning a presentation, how to use visual aids effectively to help deliver your key message.

How can you engage with your audience? Methods for handling difficult questions.

Tutorial 2  

Before the tutorial create a total of six slides in powerpoint and upload them to Piazza. Use the questions for tutorial 2 listed for your assigned topic. You should create one slide on each of the two facts/figures aimed at explaining the fact/figure to:

- a UK policy maker

- a 45 year old professional with a degree in physics

- a 16 year old A-level student

Each slide should accurately display the fact/figure and should be engaging and accessible to the target audience.

In tutorial each student will present their slides and we will discuss

- how accurately the slides convey the fact/figure

- how engaging the slide is

- how the slides could be improved

- what are the criteria we might use for judging the figures

Lecture 4

Infographics: what are they? Why are the useful?

Easelly: Complete Guide to Infographics

Create a storyboard for an infographic; consider how it would differ for different audiences (e.g. what is graphically appealing to a 13 year old, how does that compare to a 45 year old, or a 70 year old)

Discuss individual infographics, what is good and not so good about them.

Music industry sales

- Visually clean, one font, a few annotations but not too many

- proportions accurate

- easy to see what the information is about, get a key message quickly without reading everything

- more careful viewing shows you more, subgraphs on website are good

Tale of two saras

- visually easy to follow

- lots of information but parsed well

The NSW Health system is...

- proportions are wrong, four stick people represent 43,000 nurses - so why are 28 more stick people used to represent an increase of just 3,000 nurses? That's a 700% infographic explosion to show a 7% increase.

THE world university rankings

- visually not informative, which is most important - blue, green or pink?

- irrelevant detail: if knowing figure to 2nd decimal place (it isn't) why use a pie chart? don't include this detail

- see webpage

Crime rate perception gap

- this is not an infographic, it is a set of graphs

Big mac

- complex and information repeated

- but overall conveys a lot of information

- colour and size of clock tell you the same thing; what does position of the hand in the clock indicate? (points to the text)


- simple, gives information quickly

- online version is interactive

Economic stimulus bill

- a lot of information, complex because of size and time dimensions

- easy to view

- spending longer gives more information

World bank

- pie slice size and number aren't the same

Practical 2 

You should make and upload a storyboard, graphic and 1 minute video to Piazza.

The aims of this session are:

- ensure that you have experience in writing a storyboard and of talking for 1 minute

- ensure that you have experience in thinking about how visual aids can help (or hinder) communication

- ensure that you give and get constructive comment on your videos

- to give you more experience with infographic and presentation software


Produce a storyboard for a 1 minute presentation on your chosen topic; your target audience is a member of the general public

Deliver the 1 minute presentation and film it on your phone or computer

Produce a single graphic that complements your presentation

Upload your storyboard, graphic and 1 minute recording to Piazza before the lab

You will work in groups to write constructive comments on each of your presentations in Piazza.

You will also work on your visual to improve it

Lecture 5 and Tutorial 3

Guest lecture by Bob Denham, Econ Films, see lectures here.

Lecture 6

Discussion of substantive economic issues on the most popular topics

- gender pay gap

- the impact of automation on jobs.

Come to the lecture prepared to discussion these topics and your key message.

We sit around in a circle and discuss the substantive economic issues around each topic. I tell students that they each have to say something, and I keep a record (in a way that is apparent, so they can all see that I'm doing it).

More discussion on engaging with your audience, giving constructive criticism, constructive discourse.

Discussion of your infographics - bring your storyboards and draft infographics to discuss.

Practical 3

The aims of this session are:

- ensure that students have written their storyboard for their 2 minute talk

- discuss about how visual aids can help (or hinder) communication

- get students to constructive comment on each other's ideas

- make sure that all students know how to use presentation software effectively


- use the footage you have from Bob and if you want from your own footage. Make a short video. Take on board the comments on your first video and Bob's suggestions. Your video can be less than 1 minute as long as it delivers a clear key message. Don't make it longer than 1 minute. Try splicing in a graphic. See the example videos on BB for ideas. See the "Making a video" tab.

- feel free to make your video shorter than 1 minute if you want (but don't make it longer than 1 minute)

- upload this new video and your storyboard to Piazza before the computer lab

- in the computer lab you will work in small groups to provide feedback on each others' videos, discuss what you learned from the session with Bob and how you could have made the video more effective at delivering your key message

Lecture 7

Normative and positive economics. Presenting economic advice based on models, discussing modeling assumptions and the role they play.

Communicating as an impartial professional economist; what impartial or balanced means.

How to portray balance when economists disagree.

Writing in economics. Writing press releases, engaging with the media.


- Rachel Griffith "What is economics?" British Academy blog, 4 Oct 2019

- Michele Belot "The trouble with fake news" RES Newsletter July 2019

- Marina Della Giusta, Sylvia Jaworska, Danica Vukadinović-Greetham and Anna De Liddo "What is going on with economic expertise?" LSE blog 12 December 2019

"Calling Bullshit: data reasoning in a digital world"

- Hetan Shah "Academics can provide weapons for the fight again fake news"

Tutorial 4

Each student will give a 2 minute presentation on one of the topics, with one visual aid (i.e. one powerpoint slide) live in the tutorial. Your audience is a member of the general public. You should post your storyboard and the visual aid on Piazza by 10am on Monday 9 March. Please bring your phone to class if you have one so that a fellow student can video your talk and post it to Piazza; if you don't have one you can use Rachel's. Fellow students will provide constructive comments and post them to Piazza.

Lecture 8 

How to distinguish what economists know, versus when there is uncertainty, ignorance and to talk about known knowns and known unknows

Presenting uncertainty

Spiegelhalter, Pearson and Short (2011) "Visualizing Uncertainty About the Future" Science, vol 333, issue 6048, 1393-1400

Understanding Uncertainty, blog of the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge

Government Statistical Service "Communicating quantity, uncertainty and change", December 2018

Manski (2018) "Communicating uncertainty in policy analysis" PNAS

Practical 4 

The aims of this session are:

- ensure that you have a clear idea for your final presentation

- ensure that you do not have any problems with making slides for your final presentation

- give you more experience in thinking about how visual aids can help (or hinder) the effectiveness of a live presentation

- give and receive constructive comment on each other's presentation plans


Before the tutorial post your storyboard and the slides you will use for your final presentation on Piazza.

You will then work in groups to discuss your plans and give constructive comments on each other's presentations; these comments need to be posted on Piazza.

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