Caricaturing Economists

I was at the?Legg Mason Thought Leader Forum last week, talking about my research over recent years on?prediction markets.? It was good fun, but the real novelty was that as I was speaking – literally, in real time – there was a cartoonist next to the stage, cartooning my talk on a five-foot-wide poster.? I’ve never seen this before, but it was a real hit.

As a speaker, it can be hard to organize your own thoughts even when you know what is coming next.? And as an audience member, it can be harder still to sort out the key points a speaker makes from their conversational asides.? But the artist – Christopher Fuller who works for Sente Corporation– was just amazing.? He not only picked out the important analytic insights, but found an incredibly useful way to represent them, cartooning (or perhaps caricaturing) my message.

I think this is a great idea, and it will serve as a useful reminder to those who heard the talk.? And if you weren’t there, hopefully this cartoon gives you some sense of what I had to say.

Now if only I could get my MBA students to do the same thing, they would all have a wonderfully entertaining set of notes to study in advance of their exams.? I would love to see a study figuring out whether it helps them retain the material.? I bet it would.

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  1. Kaydiv says:

    I’ll try this tonight in my chemistry II class lecture. Will let you know how it works.

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  2. Emmanuel Tillman says:

    Saw a similar thing done to a Sir Ken Robinson talk. Very impressive. Hour talk boiled down to a picture in an 11 min video.

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  3. Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team says:

    Usually an Economist should be drawn with a LOT OF HANDS. ‘One one hand…then on the other hand…..and on the OTHER hand….’

    Their Pet mascot should be the OCTOPUS.

    Their Favorite plant should be the HEDGE.

    And their Favorite Movie Star Portrayal should be a Jittery Caffeinated Don Knotts

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  4. NSK says:

    This is fairly common in the world of management consulting and facilitation. Pictorial representations of key messages from a talk or a discussion are far more apt to be retained by the audience long after. Every management consulting firm, worth its name, has methodologies and skilled practitioners who do this (I do too, as part of Wipro Consulting Services)!

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  5. JMB says:

    There are several studies about how diagrammatic representations of ideas help learning, often using the specific term ‘concept map’. There’s been some support of its usefulness in medical education at least.

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  6. AntK says:

    The RSA in Britain does something similar with lectures, and they are pretty amazing. They do animated drawings that accompany brief lectures (around 10 min.). Check out RSA Animate at

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  7. Eileen M Wyatt says:

    What I’d love to know is how the cartoonists do this — to fit a live talk onto the page elegantly in real time (and not have blank spots or omit key points) presumably requires knowing some techniques on how to organize information when there are still unknowns to come.

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  8. Reyleigh says:

    That would be an awesome profession. But it’s also a really good way to transfer information in an interesting way. Get their attention with the colors and pictures and teach with the key points that had been recorded.

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