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. 

McCrindle Speakers professional presenter showreel

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Our McCrindle Speakers are experienced researchers and engaging presenters, delivering over 150 keynotes, strategy workshops and executive briefings to a range of audiences each year. 


Find out more about their most requested topics, past clients and testimonials in the below speakers pack.

The McCrindle Speakers team

Mark McCrindle is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations. Download Mark's full speakers pack here. 

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, business strategist and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. She is a global trends analyst who not only studies the megatrends, but has herself been shaped as a global citizen. Download Eliane's full speakers pack here. 

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. Download Ashley's full speakers pack here. 

Screentime: Making Sense of the iWorld

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Twenty years ago we became subjects of a new world order. A world order in which we started spending more time looking at screens than spending in face to face interaction. Today, each one of us spends, on average, 10 hours and 19 minutes each day looking at digital devices.


When we asked Australians how they spend their time, we found that the top activities Australians do on a weekly basis are indoor activities. Watching television or movies at home (90%) and spending time on social media (78%) top the list.

When asked what Australians would like to be doing less of, we find that we have an aversion towards the things we find ourselves doing. One in five of us would like to decrease the amount of time we spend on social media or the internet, and one in eight of us would like to decrease our television or movie consumption time. 

Regardless of our age or other demographics, we have become the iGen, and a group of global citizens part of a new experiment. A global experiment of digital connectivity that has transformed us to be post-linear, post-structural and post-literate. 

  • Post-linear: We no longer see life in a clear sequence, but rather a series of events that somehow come together in a new order. We don’t go to university or TAFE and end up with a trade or profession, but are entrepreneurial to the core. We up-skill, re-train, re-skill – most of us having 15 jobs across 5 careers in a lifetime.
  • Post-structural: We are post-structural, not needing our life organised in 9-5 modes. We telework, work from home, work from the train, really, we work all the time. We are a truly switched on generation, with more than half of us (54%, among Gen Y workers), admitting that we are always on and never quite feel like we can shut off.
  • Post-literate: Technology has made us post-literate and changed our lexicon and language. New words have entered our vocabulary, whether it be the emoji 'face with tears of joy' or words that aren't words at all, like #hashtag.

Screentime: Who is in control and what happens next?

Our data shows that nearly nine in ten of us have become consumers of social media, rather than contributors. Just 12% are active, sharing our life and engaging with others across social media platforms. There is no doubt that our digital times are changing our communication, our behaviour, and our learning styles. Social media has become the show-reel of our lives, breeding isolation, distraction, and a lesser ability to focus. 

Yet global connection has allowed us to gain insight into areas we never thought possible. Most of the world is now connected with a smart device. Our phones have become our 'third brain', challenging us and expanding our worldviews. In the future, new mediums will enable us to connect with the information currently available to us behind screens, in a way that is truly a part of our normal daily routine and less behind glass.

This global experiment that we find ourselves in presents a new set of challenges for us to grapple with. We have to think about how we navigate this new reality with both our cerebral capacity to think but also the deeper eyes of our heart, responding intuitively to how screens are shaping us and changing us. What future do we envision for the next generation to come, Generation Alpha? 

More than anything, it is about learning quickly from our recent past. We have the ability to create a future for the next generations that we can be proud of by maximising the best technology has to offer while leaving the 'not-so-good' bits behind.   

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 Miles present to your organisation on the screenage, Generation Z or the future world of work, please contact Kimberley Linco at kim@mccrindle.com.au or call 02 8824 3422



A Census snapshot of the Hills LGA (NSW)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The results from the national Census give a fascinating snapshot of life in The Hills LGA. The boundaries of The Hills local government area have changed only slightly since the 2011 Census allowing interesting comparisons of how we have changed over half a decade.

Changing households

Homes in The Hills contain slightly more people now (3.2 on average compared to 3.1 in 2011), and two in three have four or more bedrooms compared to just one in three nationally. However they are less likely to be a detached house than 5 years ago (82.4% compared to 84.1% in 2011) and less likely to be owned outright (34.5%, down from 36% in 2011). The costs of housing have been outstripping earnings with rents up 25% since 2011 but average household incomes only up 16%.

Culturally diverse

When compared to the national findings, local households are 35% more likely to be couple families with children, 34% more likely to have at least two cars, and 33% more likely to have at least one parent born overseas. Interestingly more Hills residents report their ancestry as English than Australian, even though only 3.3% of locals were born in England. In fact more people in the Hills were born in China (5.1%) and India (3.6%) than England, with South Korea and South Africa rounding out the top 5 for those born overseas. One in three residents speaks a language other than English at home, with that now most likely to be Mandarin, which has just overtaken Cantonese, showing the more recent migration patterns from mainland China.

Religious affiliations

While locals most commonly identify their religion as Christianity (64.8%), it has declined, while Hinduism has seen the biggest increase, from 3.1% in 2011 to 4.5% now. Of the 650 suburbs in Sydney, Castle Hill has the most number of Anglicans at 5,748 which places it 4th largest nationally for Anglicans.

Age of residents 

The Shire continues to have a younger profile than the rest of Australia with more people under 20 and less people over 65 than the national average. However while 2011 showed a deficit of 30-34 year olds locally compared to the state and national average, this latest data shows a surplus of 35-39 year olds indicating that while those in their twenties and early thirties do leave the Hills, it seems as if they also boomerang on back.

Recap from the 2016 Census Results

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Rolling around only every 5 years, the Australian Census provides us all with vital information about our nation’s population growth, infrastructure and future-planning needs. The Census has been conducted every 5 years since 1911, and is the biggest democratic activity in Australia.

Last week, the results of the 2016 Census results were released and revealed a picture of our changing nation. Australia is larger, older, more culturally diverse and less religious than at any other time in history.

At McCrindle, our social researchers are passionate about communicating the insights in clear, accessible and useable ways.

Census media activity

Here is a recap of our media activity from last week’s census release:


Australia Street Infographic

If you lived on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, and these households were exactly representative of the Australian population, did you know that in a year, your street would see 1.2 marriages, 1.7 deaths and 3.3 births? These 100 households comprise 260 people, 49 dogs and 39 cats! There are 180 cars owned on the street, which each drive, on average, 14,000 kilometres each year.

We are delighted to present the brand new Australia Street infographic based on the just-released census data.

Click here for a summary of the findings from the Census data.

Welcome to Australia Street 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017

If you lived on an average sized street in Australia comprised of 100 households, and these households were exactly representative of the Australian population, did you know that in a year, your street would see 1.2 marriages, 1.7 deaths and 3.3 births? These 100 households comprise 260 people, 49 dogs and 39 cats! There are 180 cars owned on the street, which each drive, on average, 14,000 kilometres each year.

We are delighted to present the brand new Australia Street infographic based on the just-released census data.

Welcome to Australia Street.

About Research Visualisation

In a world of big data, we’re for visual data. We believe in the democratisation of information, and that research should be accessible to everyone, not just to the stats junkies. 

We’re passionate about turning tables into visuals, data into videos and reports into presentations. As researchers, we understand the methods, but we’re also designers and we know what will communicate, and how to best engage. 

Whether you’re looking to conduct research from scratch, or if you have existing data that you want to bring to life – get in touch with the McCrindle team.

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.

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