The 3 C’s of Compelling Storytelling by Kyle Murtagh

The 3 C’s of Compelling Storytelling by Kyle Murtagh

When it comes to storytelling, you want to captivate your audience at every stage; hook them in, tantalise them with the details and have blown them away by the end, making sure they always remember you.

Here are the top tips given to us by Kyle Murtagh, Public Speaking Coach and founder of Confidence By Design. That will help you tell compelling stories while public speaking.

1. Create Some Conflict

Conflict is a story’s beating heart. Don’t believe me? Have you ever listened to a story where everything is going well at every stage, that then finishes with a happy ending? How do you think you would react? You might feel pleased with the result – but will it have sustained your interest throughout?

There’s a reason that stories are never told this way.

Any great story needs conflict – it helps the audience feel that the happy ending has been earned.

A great example of this is the story of Aron Ralston. You may not have heard of him – but you will have heard his story, made famous around the world with the hit film ‘127 Hours’.

Aron had been climbing in Utah for around six days, by himself, when disaster struck – a boulder fell on his arm, trapping him with limited supplies, no phone, and worst of all – nobody knew where he was.

With every detail in this story, the tension builds. The audience is spellbound, on the edge of their seats, wondering – is he going to make it?

He managed to keep himself alive with sheer willpower, eventually being forced to cut off his trapped arm with the small knife he had in his backpack to escape his fate.

You may not have an example quite this extreme – but you can replicate the effect that this story has.

Ensure there is conflict when you are telling a story – your audience will become invested in the outcome, and you will have their attention from your first word to your very last.

2. Present a Crossroads

In the hit movie ‘The Matrix’, the title character Neo is presented with the opportunity to take either the red pill, or the blue pill. If he takes the red pill, he will learn an undeniable new truth about the reality he lives in – a truth that would change everything. Or he can take the blue pill – the safe option, where he continues with life as normal, in ignorance of how things really are.

Hearing this dilemma, the audience automatically thinks – What would I do?

Try to always help your audience put themselves in your shoes when telling a story.

Describe a difficult decision that needs to be made in the context of your story. Explore the benefits and drawbacks of each path that can be taken at the crossroads – and hint at the outcome for each choice.

The more your audience are thinking about how they would act, the more invested they become in what happens next. So, think about creating a crossroads in your next story – it will make your audience listen even more closely.  

3. Bring your Characters to life

Believable – and therefore relatable – characters are critical to in compelling storytelling.

Include as much detail as you can to really bring each character in your story to life. What do they look like? What are their hopes and dreams – and what are their fears?

Once your character is believable, they can become incredibly powerful – as the audience will see themselves reflected in your character.

In my award-winning Toastmasters International competition speech, I include the world-famous writer, Maya Angelou, as one of my key characters. You see, Maya Angelou had an incredibly difficult childhood – which resulted in her not speaking for five years.

Now, there is no doubt that she faced a terrible situation. But within this trauma, Maya Angelou found her greatest gift – her ability to write. And when asked about this time of her life, she said something that all of us can relate to:

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

In this one sentence, Maya’s wisdom and authority as a relatable character becomes clear to the audience.

Now, you may not have experienced the same kind of trauma as Maya Angelou. But – the wisdom that she provides can be applied to the struggles and challenges that anyone can face in their life.

Create vivid characters who can have this kind of influence – it will bring your storytelling to life in a whole new way.

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Tools to upgrade your photos

Tools to upgrade your photos

Are you finding it hard to get the ball rolling? You know exactly what you want… but you’re not sure what it should look like. Never fear! This is a natural stage in the creative process. In order to make great content—you need to be looking at attention grabbing, captivating imagery. And we’re going to show you how to do it for free.


Follow the work of famous photographers and up-and-coming newcomers to diversify your style.

1. Behance is a huge portfolio site for photographers, graphic designers and artists to get inspired and show off their shots.

2. is a resource where portfolios, lookbooks and editorials of popular brands and famous photographers are published. Some shots are reference shots.


1. The Workphlo channel teaches you how to shoot subjects: how to shoot objects against a white background or create the effect of sparkling wine in a photo with a glass.

2. With The Art of Photography, you can compare the features of different cameras, improve your colour grading skills and listen to a monologue about creative doubt and overcoming fear.


Art of Visuals and 500px feature shots from photographers worldwide, and David Ingram posts inspiring black-and-white photography, while NASA shows images from space.


The accounts of Ramin Nasibov and Daniel Rueda are perfect for those who love geometry and graphics.


There is also Tush Magazine–here you can find cool references for beauty shoots.



The importance of composition is highlighted by Phase, and Magnum Photos features historical photographs of marches in Washington and even the effects of industry and climate change inspired by COP26 happening now in Glasgow.

In the “Art” section, Flacon publishes photo projects on social topics and simply futuristic photography: there are 8 frames about the life of a single woman, an art project about phobias, manias and oddities, a lot about ecology, body acceptance and non-violence.

Foam magazine is published three times a year and collects images, united by a theme or issue. You can order it or dig in the archive.


1. CLOS is an application for remote photography that doesn’t eat up quality: pictures are taken from the front or main camera of the phone and are saved on the model’s device.

2, 3. Bluristic and Specter Cam are camera apps for long exposure photography. Especially cool are shots in busy places, a city at night and luminous objects such as garlands and fireworks.

4. Sun Surveyor predicts the position of the Moon and the Sun—with is super convenient for planning shoots, especially choosing the correct position relative to the light source as well as easily catching the golden hour.

5. And for photo processing, check out Darkroom—it is convenient to retouch frames in it on the iPad.

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How to use PicsArt to assemble a feed without full-fledged production, designer and Photoshop

How to use PicsArt to assemble a feed without full-fledged production, designer and Photoshop

In the digital world, everything is like the old Russian song—there are 10 branded Instagram accounts for every 9 designers. The majority of which still don’t have budgets for expensive shoots, experienced designers and an unlimited Adobe package. But, in 2021, you can keep a feed cool without all this expense. All you have to do is experiment with some of the simple tools and apps available to you—all you need is a mobile phone.

Using the PicsArt photo and video editing app, you can:

– figure out how to make a great page step by step;

– collect the top visual trends;

– improve your audiences visual experience.

Check out our starter pack for solo SMMs, business owners and start-ups.

Imagine: you’re running an account for the manicure salon “Nails”. Your target demographic are young people living in turbo mode, but who still manage to take care of themselves; both in the salon and at home. They love experimenting, but are guided by their inner state; today might be nude, but in a month? Cue the crazy designs. You’ve already thought of the content pillars (aka: the groups you break up your content into):

  • Sales: photos of designs, announcements, discounts;
  • Informational: posts about techniques and trends that nail artists can easily implement;
  • Entertaining: short posts of motivation, behind the scenes at the salon, funny content surrounding beauty routines.

Step 1: Check the Trends and Decide on Your Visual Style

Turning the feed into a second-rate tiktok isn’t going to cut it for the target audience of “Nails”,  so we’ll focus on static images. Things like photographs overlaid with text or graphics, or collages. There are popular techniques and styles for social posts—so there’s always one for your target audience. If you do your research you can still generate awesome content without designers. We’ve got our top five techniques below!

1. Graphic art

These are simplistic illustrations that can break up the photographic content (or act as your main aesthetic). The main thing here is to not overdo it. You can find graphic stickers in the PicsArt library. For example; just search “waves”, “fruits”, “flowers”. You can also create your own and upload them to the app.

2. Typography

Paula Sher is happy again—fonts are at the forefront! While there are many design standards for the choosing of typefaces, the important thing here is to use common sense. In a world of loud and noisy social content, focusing on typography is another way to stand out and look sleek. Take a look at Miilkiina magazine. Using PicsArt, you can put an inscription on the picture in the “Text” tab. There are already many trendy fonts there, if you want a gothic font try ‘UnifrakturCook’.


3. Screenshots

Notifications, messages, alarms are an easy way to display information in an informative and visual way. Minimalistic, readable and digital. In PicsArt, push notifications can be found in the sticker library for notification or reminder requests. You can put a ready-made sticker on the image or assemble it yourself from the bubbles.

4. Retro

You know what we mean; dust, interference, analogue film, muted colours, peering through unwashed glass—nostalgia has never gone out of style, especially for millennials who miss their childhood. Check out how unobtrusive the effect is on the vintage COMME une FILLE account. Filters such as PLRD can be used to achieve a retro effect using PicsArt. Masks from the DUST category are also suitable, they add cool specks of dust to the photo.


5. Minimalism

The timeless classic! It’s important to use this style carefully and not to lock yourself into white and beige posts until the end of time. For a minimalist approach, just keep things simple. You can put text in a sans serif font and add a simplistic sticker to any plain background in PicsArt. And remember, if you want to duplicate important information in stories, you don’t need to remember the sizes; in the “Trim” tab there are already standard post formats, stories and covers for different social networks.


We’ve seen enough trends now, so let’s connect them with the goals of the “Nails”.

You need:

  1. To attract the attention of the consumer. In our case we can use colour blocking, contrasting pictures and collages with digital stickers.
  2. To inform our customers. In addition to the ideal manicure, it’s important to keep your clients up to date with promotions, announcements, live broadcasts and off beat motivational posts.
  3. To create a recognisable brand. Whether it’s through a logo, contrasting colour scheme and a mix of trends. We’ve identified minimalism and digital stickers.

Step 2: Prepare the Visuals. What you need:

1. Photos of manicure designs.

It should simple for a nail salon to collect a stack of images like this. All you need is a bright lamp and a mobile phone that isn’t too old.

2. Stock photos.

You can use: Unsplash, Icons8, Pixabay or Freepik. You can find inconspicuous minimalistic pictures everywhere. For example, these act as a great base for an overlay of interesting typography.

3. The PicsArt mobile app.

There are templates for collages, stickers, fonts, as well as very convenient functionality for cropping and editing. To make a bold account, the free version is enough, but if you feel that it’s not, you can always test out the subscription and see how you like it.

Remember our content pillars? Let’s figure out how to arrange them:


1. Content That Sells

  • Photo’s of your nail designs—this is to show your audience the manicure they could have if they went to “Nails”.

Remember: wind down the contrast and saturation, and put the logo in the lower left corner (it doesn’t have to be the left, but it should be consistent with every picture).

    • An eye catching post—the goal is the same.

    What you can do: put together a collage. Choose a template from the #Ads selection and edit it: we substitute our photo in the window, remove unnecessary blocks and details, and drop it under the square. What’s cool about this template is the design in style of the early Internet from the 90s (windows, pixel elements), you can play on nostalgia.

      • Photo’s of new polish colours—to announce the expansion of the line.

      What you can do: take a photo on a suitable background, adjust the contrast and saturation, pop your logo in the same place.

      2. Content That Informs

      • Stock photo of a girl in neon—to inform on trending colours and styles.

      What you can do: take a stock photo and process it according to your brands style: apply a filter, adjust saturation and contrast.

      • Textured background and text—to announce a live broadcast.

      What you can do: take a stock photo of the texture you like the most right into the “Text” tab. In PicsArt, you can load your font and add an underlay. The text can be edited by colour, alignment and line length.

      • Sticker with a backing photo—to announce the discount system.

      What you can do: choose a template from the #Ads collection with glowing stickers. Change the background to your choice and move the elements. Take your time, and feel where the picture is overloaded or too empty. Drop it under the square and add a sticker with the announcement text to the centre. This would be a great time to use the ‘push notification’ template.

      3. Content That Entertains

      • Moodboard collage—the basics of a home beauty routine.

      What you can do: choose a template from the #Ads selection. We lifted the girl’s photo straight from the template, added the category name and a motivational phrase.

      • Photo of massage stones—the basics of hand skincare.

      What you can do: adjust the contrast and saturation in the photo and put it on a plain background.

      • Background push notification—to remind clients and followers that they all are unique.

      What you can do: look for an abstract background in the colours of your grid, and drop it under the square. In the editor, we are looking for the “Stickers” tab—this is a huge library of stickers on any topic.

      Step 3: Putting Together a Grid of Posts

      Now we have 9 pictures that look cool and make an awesome landing grid for those who find your page. Next, you need to think over the composition of the grid—where the pictures will be relative to each other, how they are combined in colours and whether there is any visual overload or unnecessary emptiness.

      Here are a couple of composition tips:

      1. Graphic elements in the grid are always accents. There shouldn’t be too many of them. Try not to overload the profile with unnecessary graphics.
      2. Use live photos that are consistent in tone with each other.
      3. Always apply brightness / contrast settings to make your photos look better. Don’t be afraid of filters and colour correction.
      4. PicsArt has stickers for every style. Use the blending settings (screen, multiply, etc) to achieve the desired effect. For example, you can overlay sparkles or clouds so that they look as natural as possible.

      Want to learn more about design and graphics for brands? Contact us!

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      How to find pictures without fake smiles and retouching

      How to find pictures without fake smiles and retouching

      Original photos and videos are cool, but not all brands can afford expensive production and invest quite a lot of money in shooting and editing. How do you find something good from a million photos with unnatural smiles, poses and retouching in stocks? We have collected nine tips to make the search painless and the content itself responsive to the target audience.


      1. Imagine looking for a photo for a blogger’s account

      People on social media are more responsive to content from other people than from brands. This means that the closer your publications are to real life, there are more chances for the audience’s attention. You can see Nike and Gucci exploiting this strategy.

      There is such an exercise: describe what emotions a photo evokes in a blogger’s account and figure out what techniques help to achieve this. For example, close-ups without retouching are often used to show openness and honesty.

      Instagram of Scottish actor Sam Heughan from Outlander / Stock image which could fit the account

      NoFrames Blog
      NoFrames Glasgow

      2. Look for pictures that you want to think out

      If the image evokes associations and forces the user to speculate on the scene, the brand wins. After all, this way it can be imprinted in the memory of a potential client.

      To pick up a picture with a story inside, think about what good will not happen in other people lives without your product or service. For example, a person cannot relax with friends in the forest without your mosquito repellent.

      Bad / Better

      NoFrames Glasgow
      NoFrames Glasgow

      3. Take a closer look at the illustrations

      A photo does not always work better than simplified and emphatically unrealistic graphics. Author’s illustrations, collages and animations highlight the ads in the feed, which is dominated by ordinary photos and videos.

      In addition, illustrations are often more credible than retouched photographs of models – the graphics do not leave the impression that flaws are hiding from you.

      Bad / Better

      NoFrames Glasgow
      NoFrames Glasgow

      4. Focus on trending palettes

      Stock pictures can be output based on the latest downloaded files and predictions of the Pantone Color Institute. For example, here is a collection of pictures of lime, the trendiest colour of summer 2021.

      If ready-made solutions are not for you, you can work out your seasonal palette yourself – and then just filter the results by colour.

      Without filter by colour / With filter by colour

      NoFrames Glasgow
      NoFrames Glasgow

      5. Don’t be afraid of stock videos

      If the budget or time for the production of the original video is limited, you can take a closer look at the stock ones. These videos won’t replace product reviews, but they can illustrate less specific things. For example, show the prototype of the target audience in the video, so that the viewer thinks: “Oh, this product is really for me!”

      Also, stock videos are good as references. With their help, you can show the client how the video will look approximately, clearly explain the idea, transitions and effects.

      Good / Better

      NoFrames Glasgow

      6. Be afraid of stock smiles

      A happy family from a mayonnaise advertisement, a hacker in a hoodie, overly active gestures or facial expressions – these are all “typical stock photos” that do not inspire confidence in the audience and are repulsive.

      There will always be such pictures on microstocks, but you can catch others – more natural and lively.

      Bad / Better

      NoFrames Glasgow
      Glasgow NoFrames

      7. Choose a calm colour scheme

      Contrasting images look more noticeable, but this technique has been overused in design so much that people stop responding to colourful content. In addition, it is hard to look at bright pictures when you are already sitting at a laptop or phone all day. The user is more likely to scroll through the image or close the page.

      But the restrained, natural palette is relaxing, so this kind of content is worth taking a closer look at. Of course, if it is related to the brand book.

      Bad / Better

      NoFrames Glasgow
      NoFrames Glasgow

      8. Avoid aggressive retouching

      Today, artificial intelligence draws perfect skin even before you have time to photograph a friend – and it looks natural. Therefore, if retouching is striking, the design will cause rejection, look unstable, and you may be accused of embellishment.

      Try to avoid deep retouching when choosing visuals on stocks. Give preference to imperfect shots that are taken as if by accident.

      Bad / Better

      NoFrames Glasgow
      NoFrames Glasgow

      9. Think wider

      A post about the principles of a successful business? The picture shows a man in a suit. A poster about a new promotion in the mall? We are already downloading a photo with girls with a bunch of coloured bags.

      Yes, through a stereotypical picture, you can convey an idea unmistakably and the majority will definitely understand it. But they don’t grab your audience and make your ad campaign stand out from hundreds of others.

      Before looking for another visual, think: who will see this ad? What problems and worries do they have in their heads now? What story will resonate and make you grab the attention?

      Bad / Better

      Glasgow NoFrames
      Glasgow NoFrames
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      Which hobbies will prepare you for the world of work?

      Which hobbies will prepare you for the world of work?

      We’ve quizzed our team on the hobbies that get them through the week… and the crossover skills that get them through the working day.

      After a busy work week, everyone needs to relax and destress. Whether it’s a book, a bath, or two cubic tonnes of wine.

      For the well-adjusted among you, these don’t technically count as hobbies… Although in all seriousness, working on ‘passion projects’ and taking time for skills unrelated to work isn’t just good for your mental health—it’s good for your soul.

      Your life is more than the work you do and the right job should leave you ample time to live it. It’s only by valuing the time we spend away from work, that we learn how to do a better job. You may not have thought that these everyday pastimes are sets of transferable skills, but they are!

      We spoke to every member of the team and managed to eke some insight out of these  creative types. Let’s find out what they had to say!


      You’re not nervous, are you?

      There seems to be something a few of us have in common. When it comes to the performing arts, this lot are old pros. Our Sales Rep, Patrick McCulloch, is someone you may well have seen before. He’s had roles in both Outlander and The Nest.

      Patrick spoke of the necessary ability to calm his nerves. He describes going into every audition with the resolution that he will not get the part. Although this doesn’t quite get rid of all the nerves, it lessens the blow (in case he doesn’t) and keeps them at a manageable level. In the world of digital marketing, going in with little to no expectations means having real conversations and putting less pressure on meetings with potential clients.

      Sophie also spoke of nerves when discussing her musicianship, as she’s played the Saxophone in various jazz bands and orchestras. While studying abroad, she acted in and co-directed a multi-media play. This represented a real turning point. Sophie, much like Patrick, agreed that while controlling your nerves was a good thing, being unable to harness that nervous energy leaves your work stale and boring.

      Feeling comfortable at all times is a sign that you aren’t progressing. Of course, we all take time to decompress, but, “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area” as David Bowie said.

      Know your limit and try to surpass it.


      Teamwork, gaming and creativity.

      Next time you’re playing five-a-side footie with your pals or sitting down at a games console for some multiplayer mayhem, you can tell people you’re just brushing up on your digital marketing.

      Jonathan, our Customer Relations Manager, spoke of the sheer joy and satisfaction he quite rightly gains from these activities. To him, it’s the teamwork and strategising that follow over into his job. He has to coordinate people, discuss plans, and be a natural team player.

      Jack, our Content Creator, has plenty of experience with crossover collaborative skills. He’s done his time on film and TV sets, and found there is a great overlap of communication and organisational skills. He learned this from working in various teams and in different departments.

      On the creative side of things, he’s found that the more experience he has over a wide variety of disciplines (like film, TV or digital media) the more he can focus on creating purely to entertain, educate and inspire. He considers it a feedback loop of creative ideas and solutions.

      Both Jack and Jonathan are self described film buffs, and while we all enjoy a good movie from time to time, it’s best never to get Jonathan started on ‘French New Wave’ (because he might never stop).


      Work imitates art.

      Both co-founders of NoFrames, Irina and Ana, enjoy painting and drawing. As does Sophie, who likes to ‘lino print’. Irina believes this has helped her think creatively and keeps her providing high quality visual content for clients. In the beginning, Irina was creating all of the content herself—so it’s no surprise that she has an artistic streak.

      In her free time, Ana writes poems in Russian, and is a great talent in writing copy. This skill has proved worth its weight in gold when writing applications for grants and creating presentations. She owes this skill to consistently writing in her spare time.


      What are you waiting for?

      Almost any hobby or outside interest can make you more productive, introduce you to new skills or boost your CV.

      That being said, the most important thing about hobbies—is that you enjoy them. Regardless of their worth to your career, if there’s something you love to do, you might as well do it. Life is too short for the opposite.

      It seems like the team at NoFrames has proved that with creative hobbies and interests, you can build a skill set that applies to your work and career. In our case this is of great advantage to our work in digital marketing. But, remember—

      All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.


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