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. 

Changing Face of Sydney Transport

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

From high above, aerial images show Sydney un-earthed. These before and after images detail the changing face of Sydney’s suburbs. Major progress is being made on key Sydney infrastructure projects as the city prepares for ongoing population growth.

 Before After 

Sydney’s growing population

Sydney reached 5 million at the end of June 2016. While it took almost 30 years (1971 – 2000) for Sydney's population to increase from 3 million to 4 million people, it took only another 16 years to reach its next million. 

Growing by 83,000 people every 12 months (at 1.7%, above the national average of 1.4%), the city needs infrastructure to keep pace with this population growth.

NSW projections show that NSW will grow to 9.9 million people by 2036. Sydney is two-thirds of this number, so will reach 6.5 million in the next 20 years, and 8 million by 2050.

How we commute to work in Sydney

Almost 2 in 3 Australian commuters get to work by private car (65.5%, up from 65.3% 5 years ago) with just 1 in 10 relying on public transport. The 2011 Census showed that 58% of Sydneysiders commute to work by car, 9% by train, 5% by bus, and a further 4% walked. 

Social researcher Eliane Miles notes, "Sydney-siders are spending a significant amount of time moving each day. While the average work trip for a Sydneysider is around 35 minutes, for many Sydneysiders the journey to work takes much longer. Commuters in Sydney's outer suburbs are often spending five times this length (up to 2.5 hours) per trip each way. Sydney is investing more in infrastructure than other world cities of comparable population size, and it is critical that investment in both roads and public transport options continues." 

You can watch the full story on Nine News here

About Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the megatrends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.

From the key demographic transformations such as population growth to social trends such as changing household structures, to generational change and the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.

To have Eliane speak at your next event, feel free to contact Kimberley Linco on 02 8824 3422 or kim@mccrindle.com.au.

Download Eliane’s professional speakers pack here

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


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