In my role at CLASSEMINARS, I read a lot of bios. I write some and edit many others. As we prepare for the CLASS Contreat this week, I realized that a bio is one of the most important items a writer or speaker needs. You need to be able to share in a limited number of words who you are.
Do you find it difficult to talk about yourself, to toot your own horn? Most writers and speakers do. Here are a few quick and simple steps to writing a professional bio.
Identify your purpose and audience. Before you start writing, you need to know who you're writing for. Whether you are a writer or a speaker, your bio is your first introduction to your audience. It should quickly and effectively communicate who you are and what you do. It may read differently for different audiences.
Begin with your name. You would be surprised how many bios I read that don’t follow that format. Sometimes it is the middle of the bio before the name is mentioned.
Write in the third person. Writing in the third person will make your bio sound more objective – like it’s been written by someone else – which can be useful in a formal setting. Experts recommend that you always write professional bios in the third person.
State your claim to fame and what you do for a living. Example: John Thurman is a counselor, coach, speaker, consultant, and crisis response specialist. This information immediately validates is ability to write a book on depression.
Mention some of your most important accomplishments. “Linda Gilden has written hundreds of articles for magazines such as Home Life and Focus on the Family. She is currently managing editor for The Encourager, a magazine published by her church.” Linda has authored a lot of material for speakers, writers, and Christian leaders. In this case, it is important for the reader to know her level of experience.
Include personal, humanizing details. This is a subtle way to invite the reader to care. It’s also your chance to inject some of your personality. Ideally, these personal details will serve as conversation-starters should you meet your audience in real life.
One of my all-time favorite examples is Karen Porter’s bio. The last line of Karen’s bio reads, “In her spare time, Karen continues her life-long quest to find the perfect purse.” Short and sweet, yet it gives you a glimpse into Karen’s sanguine personality.
Narrow down your information. At CLASS we call that pruning. Once you have completed your bio go back and prune. Be ruthless here—–even the most interesting of anecdotes may not be appropriate.
For example, an author's bio on a book often mentions past writing accomplishments. David Morrell’s bio reads: “His best-sellers include The Brotherhood of the Rose, The Fraternity of the Stone, and The League of the Night and Fog.” Remember that your credibility is important here. Keep your details relevant and informative.
Finally, don’t forget to add your contact information at the end.
There you have it. A few simple steps to writing or editing your bio. Send it in and let us have a look. www.classeminars.org