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. 

Creating a culture of wellbeing: Leading in times of Change

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

That our world is changing and shifting is not surprising – it’s the key definer of our times. On the one hand the centripetal force of change can push us towards constant innovation. We can be invigorated by the newness around us, so that our means of communication, the way we work and the spaces in which we engage are ever-evolving.

On the other, the speed and scale of change can leave us feeling overwhelmed as we work out how to navigate and juggle complex personal and professional demands.

As leaders, we often find ourselves leading teams of individuals immersed in the rapid uptake of change. Our teams respond to this change in different ways – some with a type of change fatigue in which new initiatives are merged with the old, rather than looking to new horizons. Others respond with change apathy, checking out altogether.

 In these fast-moving times, how do we lead ourselves, our teams, and our organisations through times of change?

Leadership author John C Maxwell once said that in order to lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves. He also advised, “If you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” Leadership begins by looking inward, rather than outward. It begins by taking a look at your personal values alignment, learning style, and wellness gauge.

  • Your values alignment: How do your personal passions and strengths align with the ethos and values of the organisation that you are a part of? Recognising areas where your personal passions align with your organisation’s passions will give a greater sense of energy and purpose to your work.
  • Your learning style: How do you learn, get inspired, and stay motivated? As leaders, it’s important to stay fresh by identifying sources of personal inspiration – it could be simple things like reading content that inspires, carving out down-time, or networking with leaders who are just that one step ahead of where you are.
  • Your wellness gauge: How are you tracking in terms of your energy levels and personal wellbeing? Busy lives leave little space for margin and it’s more important than ever before to carve out time to be adaptable and flexible. Manage your screen time and bring in more green time, watch your health and nutrition, and create some space for reflection and deep thinking.

The leadership styles that the new generations respond to are those that embody collaboration, authenticity, mutual understanding and empowerment. When it comes to building resilient teams, it’s not just about processes and policies, but about helping individuals thrive in complex and ever-changing business environments. Our research has identified several key drivers among young workers that motivate them towards engagement:

  • The drive for complexity and challenge: Today’s career-starters are full of innovative ideas towards problems and thrive on identifying solutions. Creating space for the cultivation of ideas and innovation is key not only for better organisational performance but strong employee engagement. When was the last time you gave your team permission to step up to the challenge of solving your most critical problem?
  • The drive for variability and flexibility: Empowering your team to take control of their workload provides them with the opportunity to structure their day towards their most productive times and builds greater levels of team trust. When team members are engaged with the vision and have the skills they need to drive the team forward, hands-off management is always better than micro-management.
  • The drive for community and belonging: In an era where movement is a constant and flux is inevitable, workplace communities have become 21st century families. Establishing a team culture where individuals themselves are celebrated (not just their work-related wins) is critical to developing work-place tribes.

Organisational change is up to all of us, and moving ahead as an organisation involves directing individuals at all levels into forward horizons by leveraging the team’s combined power for innovation. We each lead by example by creating the initiatives and by driving the culture.

In our work with hundreds of organisations across Australia, we have identified several consistent characteristics evident within organisations that have thrived in times of change. These include:

  • Organisations who scan the external horizon. By understanding the current demographic, economic, social, and technological environment, leadership teams are able to make robust and solid decisions that guide their organisation towards its future. While the future can seem uncertain, getting a grasp on the current environment adds confidence to the decision-making process that is needed to stir a ship in a new direction.
  • Organisations who commit to being the ‘only ones’ at what they do. We consistently watch organisations position themselves alongside their competitors to understand what the market is offering. Yet it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘keeping up’ that we lose track of the unique abilities that only our teams can bring. Look inside at who is on your team before looking outward to what you can bring. Commit to carving out a niche that is true to who you are, not what your competitors are offering.
  • Organisations who put their people first. Organisational leadership is at its best when people are the priority. There are countless ways to create value for individuals within your teams (50 Best Places to Work 2016 features just some of them!), and when people thrive, not only is there lower turnover and a larger applicant base, but client relationships are at their peak, there is better innovation, greater productivity, and more sustained long-term business growth.

-Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle.

At the Australian Communities Forum 2016 on October 13th she will give an overview of each generation in the workforce and some analysis of their needs and expectations, as well as strategies to manage change, inspire innovation and create a collaborative and adaptive organisation.

Purchase your ticket here

How effective Demographic Analysis can transform your business

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Numbers and people have long been two of the most important aspects of an organisation. Demographics is the merging of these two fundamentals and has a direct impact on the ability of organisations to effectively engage their clients and staff.

Why Demographic Analysis?

Demographic analysis gives insight into the age, sex and geographic composition of a population. There are many other characteristics of a population that can also be explored such as household income, employment status and educational background. Whilst it may be seemingly broad in scope, it is an essential first step to understanding your clients and staff.

Are your clientele predominantly Generation Y or are they Baby Boomers, are they in the higher income brackets or of lower socio economics? Asking these questions allows you to delve deeper into how to tailor your offering to your target market. Demographic shifts in society directly impact upon an organisation’s ability to shape their marketing, products and services to best suit their clients. Densification, mobility, purchasing behaviours, technology use, media consumption – these are all key measures which demographic and market analysis will help you understand.

In a constantly changing society, demographic analysis provides insight and visibility into the otherwise unseeable influences on our organisations and businesses.

Some McCrindle examples:



At McCrindle we are engaged by some of the leading brands and most effective organisations across Australia and internationally to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends.

For us research is not a list of survey methods but a passion to find answers. It is more than a matter of questionnaires and focus groups – it is a quest to make the unknown known. The best research clarifies the complex and reveals insights in a way that can be seen and not just read.

Only when the findings are visually displayed, engagingly presented and strategically workshopped can they have maximum impact – and be implemented effectively.

Australia in 2034: What will our nation look like in 20 years?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

By 2034 Australia will have 33 million people and the dream of owning that quarter acre block will be nearly gone. What will Australia look like, how is our workforce changing, will households be smaller and will we recognise this new version of the ‘Aussie Dream’?

Mark McCrindle addresses these issues on a recent segment of Channel 7’s Morning Show. Australia is currently the fastest growing OECD nation and in 20 years time we will have an additional 10 million people calling Australia home. “It’s going to continue to boom, “ Mark says. “We are adding almost a million people every 2 years. And we are the fastest growing developed nation on the planet at the moment.”

Whilst a population boom brings the bonus of size, economies of scale and diversity in our cultural makeup it can also have negative impacts. The pain will be felt in rising house prices, traffic congestion and increased waiting time for public services. The increase in housing density will mean that the vast expanse of the Australian outback will remain virtually as it is but the major cities will continue to expand, particularly upwards, with more people living in apartments than ever before. The cherished Aussie dream of the quarter acre block will be gone, replaced by new land release block sizes which currently average 423 square metres or a tenth of an acre block.

Just as the population will grow larger it will also get older with more people aged over 85 years than ever before. People are living longer and living alone for longer, leading to an increase in at home care and multi-generational households. The rise in house prices coupled with an ageing population will see many families living living together with mum and dad caring for their own children as well as for their ageing parents. Mark explains, “We’ve been on this trend of smaller households for a century. We had 4.5 people per household 100 years ago. Now we are at 2.6 but we’ve turned the corner and we’ve got slightly larger households now, not that we are having more kids, just that we have more people under the one roof because of housing affordability.”

‘Density’ will be the word to describe Australia in 2034. More people will be living in more households on smaller bocks of land with more houses and apartments per square kilometre. There will be more people but fewer people of working age relative to the growing population. Mark says, “We are going to have older workers – the population is growing, Australia is going through a baby boom and people are living linger. Yet the working age proportion is not keeping pace with that population growth. So now we’ve got about 5 people for every retiree but in 40 years time we’ll have about half that – 2.7 people of working age for every retiree”. As a result people will be working longer with many not retiring until well into their 70’s! However, life expectancy at birth will be almost 90 by then.

Australia will be bigger, older, denser and even more multicultural in 20 years time! Some ‘Aussie Dreams’ will have disappeared such as the ‘quarter acre block’ and along with it the Hills Hoist garden shed and enough space for a game of backyard cricket. But no doubt new ‘Aussie Dreams’ will come to replace them – it is the Lucky Country after all!

Australia’s Unemployment Rate at a 10 Year High [in the media]

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mark McCrindleThe latest ABS labour force release indicates that Australia’s unemployment rate has reached 6 percent – the highest rate recorded over the past decade.

The estimated 3,700 jobs lost in January is a strong contributing factor to the increased unemployment rate, which is higher today than even its peak in the global financial crisis at 5.9%.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle joins Network Ten’s Wake Up to discuss why Australia’s employment rate has risen:

“It’s largely a factor of the slow-down of the mining boom,” Mark says. “In WA in the last month the unemployment rate has risen by half a percent. The mining sector is our largest employer, so that’s been a big hit.

“Employers are also shifting jobs from full-time to part-time, so we’ve had an increase in part-time roles in the last month but a loss of more than 7,000 full-time roles.”

“It looks like this trend is set to continue, at least for the next six months. The trend line has been ticking up slowly over the last few years. If you go back three years the unemployment rate was just 1% lower than it is today – so the increases haven’t been dramatic.”

“Keep in mind on a global sense, we’re well below the unemployment rate of 6.7% in the US and 7% in the UK, and even 10% in France. In global terms we’re doing ok, but certainly the trend is not good.”

Mark also discusses unemployment rates specific to Victoria and South Australia, including the shift away from auto manufacturing and mining to IT and technical jobs and the knowledge economy.

Watch the segment here:

Mark McCrindle

Sea Change, Tree Change [in the media]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mark McCrindle ACAFor many Australians, getting a breather on the mortgage, having more living space, and drinking in the fresh air are draw-cards motivating city-dwellers to move away to the beach or the country.

Today’s sea and tree changers are different than a generation ago – almost 80% of sea and tree changers are under the age of 50 with young families. These families are moving away from an emphasis on ‘living to work,’ instead wanting to ‘work to live’.

But for 1 in 5, a sea or tree change doesn’t work out, instead proving a costly exercise.

Mark McCrindle joins Today Tonight to discuss what it looks like for Australians to move away from city living:

Generation Rent [in the media]

Friday, November 15, 2013

The amount of first time buyers taking out home loans has fallen to its lowest level in almost a decade.

Compared to 30 years ago, there’s now twice as many Australians renting, and for many Generation Y's now in their 20’s and 30’s, buying their own home will now seem almost unattainable.

Mark McCrindle joins Today Tonight on the topic of Generation Rent – outlining how difficult it is today for young people to break into the property market.

Today it is twice as hard for young people to buy their first property compared to when their parents were starting out, because they’re not just competing with other first home buyers but also with investors, self-managed super funds, trusts and overseas buyers.

Four decades ago, an average home in a capital city was 5 times the average annual earnings, and today it’s 10 times average annual earnings.

It’s not all bad news – in many areas, particularly in the inner city suburbs, it is much cheaper for young people to rent than buy, and as long as they’re investing and not spending everything on lifestyle pursuits, young people will get ahead even without home ownership.

Bringing research data to life: Mark McCrindle at TEDxCanberra

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mark McCrindle recently spoke at TEDxCanberra 2013. Here are some of his reflections on this landmark event:

Mark, you speak at a lot of conferences, what was it like to be invited to speak at a TEDx event?

Well it was a great honour. TED has an amazing brand and the production qualities and process associated with TEDx events are world class. It was amazing to be part of TEDxCanberra with poets, performers, thinkers and difference-makers – each of them leaders across a wide array of fields.

How did it differ from other conferences?

Being a TEDx event, the content, the ideas worth sharing had to be there, but more than this – the style was different to other corporate events. For a start you get a maximum of 18 minutes, not the standard 45 to 60 minutes for a keynote session. And there’s no lectern, which means no notes – which means knowing your talk well enough to get by without prompts!

What was the feel of the event?

An event with a producer and stage manager rather than a conference organiser is going to have a different feel. Additionally, the attendees are not there as corporate delegates but a diverse audience ready to be engaged, informed & entertained and so this creates quite a different dynamic.

From acrobats and artists to rehearsals pre-event and a party post-event, it was not the normal business conference, and it was a delight to be part of it.

What was the focus of your speech?

My theme was making research relevant through not just what methodologies are used but how we communicate the findings. In a world of big data we need visual data. In a world of information overload we need infographics. We don’t need more long reports as much as we need research we can see. When we see it, we are influenced by it and we act upon it. It’s how it always was – and how it still is!

Check out Mark's presentation or find out more about what McCrindle Research does in the world of research visualisation at researchvisualisation.com.

Rise of Unemployment in Australia + Future-proofing your job [MEDIA]

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mark McCrindle joins the Daily Edition team on 11 July 2013 to unravel the best and worst industries to consider when looking for work. 

In June, Australia's unemployment rate rose to 5.7% (up 0.2% from May figures), with the number of unemployed people in Australia rising by 24,000. More companies are shifting full-time roles for part-time roles, and household budgets are increasingly getting tighter. In these times it is crucial for employees to identify future areas of growth and areas of job decline.

Jobs that are struggling include those that require a low skill base and those phased out by technology, especially as retail trade takes a hit on the sale of discretionary items. New jobs evolve as emerging sectors take off – in Australia, opportunities are being created by the latest baby boom, our ageing population, and the global opportunities presented by proximity to Asian markets.

Future-proofing your career comes through diversifying skills and upskilling, choosing multiple career options, and skilling in economic growth areas that will continue to thrive.

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