Marily Nixon, a Professor of the Practice at Pitt Law, teaches Communicating Economic Insights in the MQE Program. Her driving goal is to equip students with professional-level communication skills and experience. She believes that good communication practices can translate to all backgrounds, especially in economics. Her course focuses on efficient communication of data analysis in the real-world, while emphasizing the important of writing, speaking, and presenting.
Q: What is the biggest take-away you hope students will gain from your class?
A: Good communication requires clarity, conciseness, accuracy, and structure. MQE students learn to communicate highly technical information in a polished way to audiences. In my class, students learn best practices for presentation design. It’s important to make data-based presentations that are lively and compelling, and I can see their confidence and presentation skills develop throughout the course, from day one when they get on their feet to do a spontaneous 60-second talk- to the last day of class when they introduce a sophisticated data-based group presentation to their peers.
Q: What is one key strength of communication that students will learn from your course?
A: I challenge my students to use simple, clear, and compelling language, and to learn to explain even basic concepts clearly and thoroughly. As famous economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, ‘In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language.’ When the students use concise language, they come to a better understanding of the information they are conveying.
As academic economist Deirdre McCloskey writes, “Good communication is not inherent to the individual; it is learned, and it requires practice.” Marily Nixon aims to provide her students with the skills necessary to achieve good, professional communication, ultimately teaching them invaluable skills that they need in accomplishing their dream career.