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


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