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Christopher Swan is the International Guest Speaker at IABC Victoria’s Gala Night, and will be talking about the Future of the Comms Profession

According to your website, your love of entertainment is a driving force in communication. How do you make communications entertaining, even when the message is potentially dull or scary?

It’s true, I love entertainment. I believe when people are entertained, they’re participating in the experience. I describe the word entertainment, deeper than just fun and exciting. Entertainment to me is about relevance, storytelling and connecting with the user. So when I need to share a message that seems dry or challenging, I focus on the experience I want to create. In this case, think documentary. I aim to convey an important message and show it in an honest and interesting way. It’s time to be real and connect and at the same time, entertain.


  • As a self-confessed technology geek, what are the emerging digital trends and technologies that you are really excited about?

Oh I’m a geek all the way around, not with just technology. But my excitement for tech is always at the forefront. The key digital trends and tech that I’m most excited about are the ones that make communication the simplest. We’re living in a world of information and it’s getting more crowded every day. Because of this, I think we’ll see more examples of visual sharing like in Pinterest, infographics and the Google glasses. It’s easy to digest and transcend language barriers. Our digital experiences will soon become an even bigger visual feast.


  • There are so many new social media tools out there, how do you get ahead of the technology curve and know which ones to invest in?

First thing I would recommend, don’t jump into every brand new tool you see. There is no way to keep up with that kind of momentum. Being a fan of social, I will immediately try new social media resources. But I do not invest until I can see for myself or from others, that there is a business application. When I do experiment, I try to think as a user vs. a social media nerd. I think, how will this compliment my life and most importantly, am I enjoying it? My point, take some time, don’t rush and listen to what others are saying.


  • What's the quirkiest, most original thing you've done to drive a message home?

This is probably the easiest question to answer as I love trying new ideas. I’ve created a few videos where I’ve actually dressed up as various characters. Just imagine me as cupid with a bow and arrow while delivering lines to share important messages. I’ve even climbed a mountain and got sunburnt for Earth Day, and dressed up as a pilot for a video conferencing video. The good news, the messages were effective and stood out.


  • How important is the user interface for creating successful intranets?

User interfaces are very important for intranets. But it cannot live alone and should be married to a well thought out user design. A user interface focuses on the function and tech behind the scenes where the design aligns the look and feel. When it comes to an employee experience in the intranet, employees are not focused on how wonderful everything looks. They care about one thing, finding what they need. When you can make the user interface and design simple and easy, you’ve done a good job. A goal should be to have a design that easy to use, relevant to the overall experience and utilizes the best of well known consumer experiences.  


  • The buzzwords at the moment are content curation, networked innovators, real-time delivery and customer ecosystems. What does this all mean for communications specialists?

These buzzwords are all about the shift we’re experiencing in communications. Communication today is a much stronger two-way experience and our users have a voice just as important as ours. As we hear these new buzzwords and see important changes in front of us, it’s important to review our current strategies and make sure we’re empowering others and opening our communication experiences for all.


Interview by Emma Gilmore