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How to Make Your Office Incredibly Awesome

How to Make Your Office Incredibly Awesome

If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, you know there are only two options for workplace culture: (1) Cubicles, TPS reports, and birthday parties where the haves get cake, and the Miltons get sad music and, (2) 37 pieces of flare.

Except, that is, if you work for any number of big and small companies across the world that are radically reshaping what office culture can (and should!) be. After all, what better way to keep employees motivated and working until the job is done than helping them actually enjoy office life? Let’s take a look at a few truly unique initiatives at some of the world’s most fun companies for a few cues and a lot of inspiration.

1. Bigstock’s Random Holiday Celebration

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day. These are just a few of the many holidays most companies celebrate throughout the year, but how about National Doughnut Day? If you work for Shutterstock, that’s more than enough reason to roll up your sleeves and dig in.

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Earlier this June, a very humorous series of images appeared on the company’s blog, with employees and their children weighing the merits of fruit vs. doughnuts. Perfectly on brand, the images paid tribute to the best doughnut stock images in the company’s vaults. While the delectable glazed treats were undoubtedly delicious, the real benefit here was likely the boost in morale and creativity that comes with doing something a little different and swapping deadlines for play.

What This Means for You: Do a little research and find the wackiest holidays out there. Then have your office vote on the ones they’d most like to celebrate. Initiatives like this not only boost morale, but they also make great blog posts, giving your customers and clients an inside look into your company and establishing rapport—a fact you can use to convince your boss.

2. Comvert’s Personal Skatepark

There’s BYOB and then there’s BYOS—Build Your Own Skatepark. That’s what the Italian clothing company, Comvert, did when they converted this old movie house into a warehouse. That’d certainly provide a better way to let off steam than rummaging through the break room cupboards for a good round of stress eating.

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What This Means for You: Okay, so you probably don’t have the time, money or perhaps even interest to build an entire skate ramp. But that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit a good game room, complete with video games, ping pong, foosball, and hey, why not trampolines, too? This is another good one to put to employee vote.

3. Selgas Cano’s Outdoor/Indoor Retreat

Sure, most of us would prefer working outside to hunching our lives away in a windowless cubicle, but it’s not like we can plop our desks onto a dolly and haul them to the grass every time the sun peeks its way out from behind a wall of clouds (can you tell I live in Seattle?). This is one problem the architects at the Madrid branch of Selgas Cano don’t have to worry about, as their offices are made almost entirely from windows and are tucked away in a suburban forest. For knowledge workers of any stripe, this is the best kind of “fun” one can have: peace, quiet and plenty of natural inspiration.

What This Means for You: So maybe you can’t get your boss to replace all of your walls with windows, but you can bring the great outdoors to you. Decorate your personal office space with local plants, and see if you can outfit the hallways and break room with hanging plants and planter boxes. Tell your boss, “Nature is the source of all productivity.” It’s worth a shot!

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4. Shutterstock’s Hackathons

Hack-athons have become pretty commonplace at many tech companies these days, and it’s no wonder: In these intensive, 24-hour (usually) marathons, engineers, designers and even non-tech employees meet to brainstorm and build “crazy” new ideas. Many will be left to gather dust once the hackathon is done, while a precious few will be further developed into prominent new features or even new and important products in their own right.

Shutterstock is famous for their hackathons, with the initial idea for the company actually stemming from an event in which CEO and founder, Jon Oringer, participated over 9 years ago. Given the intense conditions, hackathons like this also build camaraderie at the same time as they’re possibly birthing the world’s biggest next idea. How’s that for a great combo?

What This Means for You: From 24-hour play festivals to all night design marathons and mini-NANOWRIMOs, hackathons aren’t the sole domain of the tech sphere. Order some pizza, stock up on the Mountain Dew, dial up the intensity, and host a hackathon of your own.

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5. Google’s…Um, Everything

No article on fun work environments would be complete without Google—the company that defines the concept. When it comes to office design itself, how do pods, swings, hammocks, ski gondolas, slides, pubs, forests and bowling alleys sound to you? (Take a peek at Google’s coolest offices here). Googlers also enjoy 20% time; an initiative that allows them to work on their own projects 20% of the time, as well as yoga classes, gyms, and easy access to healthy and delicious food, wherever they go.

What This Means for You: What can your workplace learn from Google? You mean… besides everything? While most companies won’t have the funds for Google-level perks, you can still argue for 20% time as an effective way to rejuvenate the mind and possibly even produce a useful and unexpected new feature. Google is also a great example of a way to give workspaces creativity and an individual feel without relying on cheesy posters and figurines. To decorate like Google, why not hold a hackathon specifically devoted to the subject, and see what creative spaces you can produce?

Takeaway

You may feel you work in the world’s most corporate, sanitized office, but chances are your colleagues are also looking for a little injection of fun. Fortunately, fun often leads to that business buzzword, “innovation”, and a well-reasoned argument should get your boss right on board. So hack your office with a little amusement, and make the office space of your dreams.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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