Why storytelling is so powerful in this digital era

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ashley Fell is a social researcher, keynote speaker and head of Communications at McCrindle. In her recent TED talk on The Visual Mind; Why storytelling is so powerful in this digital era, Ashley elaborates on the power of stories on our mind, and how to use them to communicate data-rich stories.

Communication has never been as important as it is today, because so much of our world is changing. We live in a world where our learning has changed. Where our interaction and how we ‘share’ has changed. Where even the concept of a story, has changed.

We are living in an age of digital disruption, in what we call 'the great screenage'. Where we now spend more time on our devices, than we ever have before. 

We live in technologically integrated times, where our attention spans are short. In times of message saturation and information overload, if you have important data to communicate, it is harder than ever to cut through the noise. 

The key to unlocking effective cut-through, is in an understanding of how the brain works.

For we know the brain is wired to processes visual imagery. When we look at how the brain retains information, words are processed by our short term memory, whereas visuals go directly into our long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.

And so the key is to present information in a way that appeals to the visual mind.

When we communicate data, our job is to move from the complex to the simple. Because the brain is more naturally wired to engage with the human, with the relatable, with a story than with just data, information and complexity alone. 

And when we think about engaging stories, whether they be novels, infographics or songs, they always have the four I’s.

Great stories create interest and capture our attention. Great stories instruct and communicate meaning. Great stories involve us. And importantly, a great story inspires. It connects not just with the eyes of the head but with the eyes of the heart.

We know the mind looks for direction and coherency. It doesn’t respond to ambiguity. And so as researchers, we navigate spreadsheets and find the intrigue and interest in the data. We fill in the blanks and communicate through the use of infographics and visualised presentations. We believe research is at its best, when it tells a story. 

When we think about visuals that create interest and engage our minds, there are three key elements.

The first is colour. Our eyes and our minds are drawn to colour. The second is picture. The content of the visual. And the third is movement. Motion and movement attract and retain our attention. That is why YouTube is so popular. For why would we read it, when we can watch it?

And so when you next have a story to tell, remember that the mind responds to visuals. That we are wired to engage and retain information visually. And that creating interest ad intrigue, especially when you are communicating data, has never been more important than in the great screenage we are living in today. 


Ashley Fell is a social researcher, TEDx speaker and Head of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst and media commentator she understands how to effectively communicate across diverse audiences.

From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms and content creation, Ashley advises on how to achieve cut through in message-saturated times. She is an expert in how to communicate across generational barriers.

Download Ashley's Professional Speakers Pack here and see the McCrindle Speakers professional presenter showreel here

Contact us today to book Ashley for your next event. 

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


business performance australians staying home more engage public speaker engagement 1975 anzac learning HSC rental stress wealth Retail aged care puzzle education sector social change culturally diverse media release wages who is generation z media Real Estate futurist survey design careers clothing office speakers pack crime training future proof wealth inequality career research visualisation keynote speaker relevant economic twentyseventeen priorities researcher 2013 case study 2020 google for education volunteers Generation Y Wellington baby names suburb baby names australia report mythbusting monarchy Australian demographics sydneycity wolloomooloo 2012 employmer coffee outsourcing cartodb TEDx Speaker gold coast student media commentary rent offenders brand brands Mark McCrindle McCrindle Speakers global generations organisations middle class schools students balance the hills shire the lucky country TEDx social impact growth of sydney grave decision school students educhat university degree 2016 census results 1994 bus Generation X Mount Annan-Currant Hill Mark McCrindle in the media 1980 aussie culture marketing Australian Dream Love sector happiness communication lalor park mining boom school younger generations women urban census data Assistant Store Manager The ABC of XYZ Wodonga 10 years learn world conference Black Friday Sales NBRS Architecture world youth day breakfast Jura Australia Social Trend SA facts property wealth and income distribution generation shbc townhouses wellbeing financial dreams christmas Christmas presents professional services charities safe father's day income research report baby name predictions relational easter Adelaide Sydney’s south west Tuesday Trend average Australian motivate urban living index global donation ACT Report REIV Conference VET baby name Cobbitty-Leppington Performance Sentiment Index VET sector Engineering Manager local ipswich urban taskforce tattoos vegetarian Canberra brisbane PSI teacher hornsby ideas McCrindle Speaker snapshot debate national crime rates screenagers ACT ageing US Wagga Wagga visual australian real estate kate middleton future-proof mythbusters parenting norwest summer plans Northern Beaches shopping centre daily telegraph product Australian communities FPA public holiday not for profit property market Australia Day 2017 baby boom land of the middle class rich area internet social researchers moreton bay speaker mover and shaker cost of living James Ward housing affordability screenage media activity Queensland: QLD gen alpha high density intern social commentary future communications demographic Duchess of Cambridge australian community trends report sustainable holiday office opening etiquette visualisation sydney speaker alpha workforce urban living darwin Maxim Accounting pharmacies population growth friends online shopping parents not-for-profit emerging technologies sector wide study global financial crisis marriage Word Up workshop capital cities investor goal challenge Crime Rates young australians Myth global retail menai financial future newspaper educated eliane narcissism cancelling plans baby names report quote micro generation Z deloitte Sydney population jobs of the future conference presentation cold news youth teach vegemite trades waverton easy rider australian community event local communities celebration Australian Bureau of Statistics TED talk education brand experience research services entrepreneur NEETs trends shopper's pick Northern Territory Kiwi Financial Planning Week year 7 New Zealand conferences bureau Do It Yourself learner keynote results pyrmont staff Macquarie University teachers divorce ABS mccrindle work from home Channel Seven organisational culture community engagement huffington post hills shire professional presenters village divorce rate NBRS royal influence manly February 16 population list jobs cash trends of 2017 friendship christianity cica in the media collaborative the australian dream personalities story rule keeper ultimo demography repayments equip water staying in culture social lives census results housing work 40 million The Daily Edition meetings follow storytelling tea sunny days wedding religion school satisfaction Births professional Melbourne IT Specialists greatness government names sentiments faux-ciliser increasing densification social research demographer ACF2017 authenticity neutral bay responsive financial train customer Tuesday Trends family investment Vocational education sydney metro consumerism forecasting spend Financial Planning Association of Australia infographics social commentator volunteer social issues event socialising video earning environmental scanning faux-cilise wage micro apartments society trends contiki WA ageing population Black Friday research on coffee demographic transformations 1968 food insecurity identity group recap giving communities trend learning styles students wealth distribution optimistic 23 million medicine blaxland Black Friday in Australia politics graphs #censusfail australia Hornsby Shire Council tuesday nfp TDE speajer australian communities trends report victoria royal baby builders commute sports affordability Australians tableau gig professional development Deaths Australian community trends long weekend events forecast high density apartments commuting thrive perth population milestone finance ACF17 live the dream speakers winter blues Australian schools the hills belief home Jura Coffee princess charlotte Lower Hunter national private wealth JOMO millennials environment presentations debt social media households gender mccrindle tea church sun digital TAS economy 2015 high density living Andrew Duffin data volunteering data children Aussies mobile financial independence workplace research data car non profit Work place families Australian Trends leadership workshop work mates cultural diversity program generations city Queensland market research millenials Christmas season society Hunter Valley trends of 2016 hopes Research Executive average sydneysider buildings earnings Australian Census internship experience royal family woolworths social analyst SMART Gen X logan gig economy winter going out coffee lovers local community Merry Christmas poker master acf15 public transport Population Clock interactive CPI slideshare Northern beaches Event high school ease of travel New South Wales marriages moderators guide baby teleworking financial fears eliane miles panel Bathburst fears couple January 26th Education Future Forum DIY social trends child care australian communities forum food bank aged care men ashley mckenzie Channel 7 chairty demographic trends budget cars sydney event baby boomers generational trends australian social research entrepreneurs of today sydneysiders ferry VIC insights workplace culture Northern Beaches Christian School What is food insecurity? life data visualisation commuters McCridle business index work-life stats qualitative research Sydney Hills Business Chamber census fail shopping communicate education future conference speaker criminal investing google mother's day sydney hills cloudy days transport World Water Day hills Territory hobart social life royal innovation geomapping participants thought leadership cost Elderslie-Harrington park supply and demand Royals infographic NSW Australian Population faith mentor curiosity census 2016 cultural diveristy forum lifestyle emerging trends food Tasmania South Australia weather rise of local paying to work personal growth office space Valentine’s Day education research capital city System's Architect care support skills unaffordable networking English group session litter shifts house price rise property price online know the times house overcast cancelling event household tv 2017 business research Geoff Brailey toys year 12 education future report Willowdale trend tuesday marrickville social enquiry owning a home christian crows nest purpose technology states residents showreel seasons goals dreams baby name trends university Hills Shire Council wealth and income rain survey house price stay home small business meals Western Australia employmee click retirement dreaming Sydney housing market focus group ashley fell resilience house prices innovative Christmas lunch future of shopping weekly earnings millionth leadership employment New Zeland post rationalism new york times growing population real collaboration research pack generation alpha Christchurch Research Director population map prince george typical australian Caregiver presentation Australia Day donate award winner consumer 2016 census statistics apartments leader salary dream Sydney keynote speaker state future of education not for profit research Res Vis omnibus in depth interviews optus annual income affordable proactive impact Business analysis tertiary education Australian Families spirituality mccrinlde suburbs McCrindle Keynote Speakers "know the times" gen z internships social researcher domestic new office travelling Lower Hunter Region housing growth holidays sydneysider low density DESTEL average aussie Scouts data analyst megatrends home ownership social shifts housing trends professional speaker EFF social analysis energy financial planning entertainment socialites fresh changing face of sydney growth volunteering apartment award choice workers future proofing dessert social public speaking earn living tips suburban living cooking demographics publication NFP event rising house prices study casual renting hello fresh poor Aussie Gen Z Expert hunger Australian Communities Trends ACF unemployment Financial Planning Association Netflix healthy future focus groups the great screenage mortgage report language schools mccrindle in the media future of work sunburnt country infographic wall bondi Charlotte renter of the future selfie digital economy define emerging generations the average aussie cancel plans 2014 community FOMO 2016 teaching employers mccrindle research Skilling Australia street change 24,000,000 resource optus my business awards GPO SRE Australian Home dare to dream ACF 2016 census charity Gen Y faux-cilising Kirsten Brewer travel ethnography CBD national wealth NT SMSF entrepreneurial TED insight money daily commute grandparents Real Estate Institute of Victoria potts point trends analyst sector wide home owner mateship analysis 24 million pharmacy youth unemployment the changing face of REIV National Conference young people