Last summer, my department required all kids participating in our Summer Reading Program to turn in weekly book reports. I don’t think it would surprise anyone to find out we had pretty low numbers. That’s because, generally speaking, teens don’t like to write book reports. Shock of all shocks! I’m doing punch cards this summer, but I really love the idea of unpresentations. I made that term up. Just now.
What I mean by “unpresentation” is turning something easy that you love, into a speech or presentation. So, a teen creating a pinterest board as opposed to writing a book review. It’s personal, and having a rational reason for including certain images is a lot harder to fake than ripping a review off the web. I tried my hand at it, and it’s surprisingly harder than you’d think. Check out my Pinterest “review” of These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman.
But, this format can work for, well, work. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to convince someone of a program idea, but my words just don’t convey what I see in my head. Sometimes, it’s hard to put your ideas into words, and impact can be felt more intensely through photos and videos (usually). That’s why unpresenting can be great. It’s also kind of scientific. Using a moodboard in place of slides full of text connects a visual to your ideas, which people are more likely to remember. That’s not just an idea I’m throwing out there, it’s a studied fact!
So, how do you build a unpresentation? First, start with a moodboard or a board on Pinterest. If you’ve been following my weekly board tutorials, then you’re able to add not only sharp photos, but you’re also a pro at making them animated in a snap. I’ll also link all the photo sites I use at the end of this post, as well as ways of physically presenting. No matter if you’re using my templates or your own, you want something that will focus attention on each image, yet be a simple and unifying layout.
Read on to find my unpresentation tutorial!
For this example, I’m going to create a character board based on one of my absolute favorite YA titles, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Ugh, if I could only convince you to read one book, it’s this one. It’s got an artistic beauty with blue hair, who falls in love with the quintessential bad boy. But, she was raised by chimaera, and he’s a Seraphim. Talk about worlds apart! Taylor’s writing gets in your veins and just swims around your blood, until you’re sure you could just open a door and step into a world with jaguar teeth and snake torsos.
The DoSaB wiki says this about Akiva:
Akiva is a seraph. As a bastard son of Emperor Joram, he is a member of the seraph army faction known as the Misbegotten. He has an unusually large capacity for magic, possibly due to his mother‘s Stelian heritage. A good soldier should never ask questions, but when Akiva lays eyes on Karou, he can’t stop until he finds out exactly who – or what – she is.
This format could be used in classrooms (find four photos that fit the description of the character/ describe your character using only photos, no words). Writers, moodboards can also be fantastic for getting a character from your brain to paper. Whatever your topic, narrow down what you want this board to communicate to an audience. For instance, there’s major keywords in the wiki description of Akiva. Serpah. Magic. Soldier. If I were giving a presentation about characters in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, these keywords would be things I could use to convince my audience to read the book.
Building the Board
Depending on how you look at it, this step can be the most fun. I love browsing through Unsplash; the photos are taken by pros, and they are completely free to use! I also make a point to search Pinterest; there’s tons of resources right there, just make sure you credit your sources! Try searching by your keywords, or by colors. For my board, I want not only to showcase the character, but also set the tone of the book. Make no mistake, it’s a gritty tale with twists and turns and mud and guts. I decided to go with a black and white color scheme, because it’s so classic. It also brings all the photos together. The most important thing to remember when creating a mood-presentation: each photo you use must be a jumping off point for your ideas. Think about how each photo you choose relates back to your pitch.
This board is all about you and your idea, so make it yours. Add sparkle, add animation, play with colors and textures and words. The very magical thing about this method is that you’re not using some flimsy PowerPoint theme, everything down to the very structure is yours. That’s not only incredibly personal, but it’s also a chance for you to make your idea stand out from all the others.
Turning Digital To Physical
If this was a high school student’s book review presentation, they could easily turn it into a short talk.
“Akiva can be summed up by the four main photos here. He’s a seraph, aka an angel, who wears anger like a second skin. Rightly so, though; his mother is gone, most likely murdered by Akiva’s slimey “father,” and the one person for him is on the other side of a massively devastating war. When he loses her, he loses his reason to live. The markings on his hands represent those he has met in battle, which unfortunately does nothing to fill the hole left in his soul.But, a chance sighting of a girl with blue hair and a wishbone necklace might just change everything he knows.”
That took me a total of five minutes to type up, with a cat on my lap (which we all know should be an olympic sport.) Words might not always inspire action, but pairing words with strong images and a bit of flare turns blah reports into passionate and memorable presentations.
- This would have been so helpful when I defended my first grant back in September. Images including people building, learning, and growing together would have made a lasting impression (or a more positive one than my shaky paper notes!).
- Project proposals make so much more sense when pictures bring all your ideas together. Last month, I pitched an awesome moon observation program to a local university physicist professor. He’s absolutely sold, but again, my proposal would have been more organized (and probably would have helped me focus my answers) if photos were used to show the overall impact this program could have.
- Persuasive arguments can be stressful (like convincing your boss your department needs new storage). Keeping your argument concise and focused shows your level of planning and forethought. Narrowing why you need something based on five images stops you from rambling on (like I do), and allows for more productive discussion.
What other instances would benefit from a mood board presentation? You tell me! If you make one, I’d absolutely love to see it! Tag me or leave your url in the comments 😀
Looking to make one yourself? These sites are my go to photo hubs:
Now, go make some awesome, everyone!