Bill Gates does not need a speaker’s bio, nor do many others who are well-known or famous for their backgrounds and accomplishments. However, that is not the case for most of us.
We must introduce ourselves (or others) in several circumstances:
When we are signing up with a speakers’ bureau
When we are speaking at an event, and have been asked to craft our own bio for publicity materials or an introduction
When we have been tasked with creating a bio for a featured speaker at an event
When we are producing a LinkedIn bio intending to network with organizations that need speakers with our backgrounds
Crafting an engaging bio, whether for yourself or someone else, is no easy task. The challenge is to include all of the key and relevant info, and do so in a manner that will capture and intrigue the reader.
To do this you have to go beyond the basics — education, background, projects, accomplishments, and such. You have to create a “need” for this audience to hear what this person has to say.
So let’s unpack the steps that go into crafting that amazing bio.
1. Begin With the Basics
Start by making a list of all the basics. These include education, projects, and prior successful speaking engagements. When you are ready to actually write the bio, you will need to insert these things in a creative and compelling way. The challenge will be adding some “flair” while you insert these basics into the bio.
Consider these two bio entries:
“Amanda is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in sociology and a minor in theater arts.”
“Amanda graduated from Columbia University in 2015 with a degree in sociology and a minor in theater arts. She captured the lead role of Maria in the musical “West Side Story” and, from that experience, developed a passion for the plight of minorities in American society. Along the way, she dabbled in ethnic cooking and subjected her friends to her experiments.”
Which do you think will intrigue an audience more?
2. Include Major Accomplishments
Again, you need a list. Some speakers may have a long list of accomplishments. If the bio is written for a specific engagement or for a bureau that focuses on specific topics, narrow the accomplishments to those that relate. If, however, the bio is for a more generic purpose, such as a LinkedIn profile, then you may still have to pick and choose somewhat. Choose to highlight appearances at events that are larger and/or more well known. This adds to credibility and reputation. Again, you will want to weave other small bits of human interest and/or humorous detail in among them when you ultimately write it up.
3. What Unique Perspective Can Be Shared?
Amanda has obviously spent some time becoming an expert on minority cultures in the U.S., but so have many others. Are there things that set her apart from other experts? Perhaps she has traveled to parts of the Middle East, parts of Africa and Asia? Perhaps she has written a book about her experiences? Maybe she spent a summer tutoring school children on a Native American reservation? Event organizers will understand that these experiences generate interest among potential attendees who will see Amanda as someone who may have unique perspectives.
4. Always Consider the Audience
If you are crafting the bio for a specific event, think about the audience for which the speaker bio will be written. What might interest them most about the speaker? What type of sense of humor are they likely to have?
Sometimes, telling a personal story to which the audience can relate will generate greater interest and build more anticipation about what the speaker will say.
Suppose the event organizer is looking for a keynote speaker for a “back-to-school” conference of teachers in a large inner-city school district.
The audience may be looking for inspiration as well as some concrete methods for increasing student learning and achievement. In that case something like this will likely attract their attention:
Steven once inherited an unruly class of 5th graders mid-year after their teacher had been fired. By the end of that school year, he had a model classroom in which students were engaged and excited about learning.
How did he do it? He’ll reveal all of his ‘secrets,’ along with some truly inspiring stories about some of those students who remain in contact with him today, as adults.
Consider another scenario of a small- to mid-sized company experiencing a higher than acceptable absentee and turnover rate. Supervisors and managers have been invited to a two-day conference addressing these issues.
The keynote speaker will be Bill, a man who spent years “in the trenches” and who is now a consultant to organizations on the subject of morale and productivity. He is billed as a motivational speaker who will get participants enthusiastic about making real changes in their departments.
Participants will get a first-hand account of the real story of the “employee from hell,” to which every manager can relate.
5. Be as Brief as Possible
Once you have written a speaker bio, you are far from finished. It will need many revisions, many of which will be to shorten it. Event organizers do not want a lengthy piece to read. Hit the highlights, provide an inspiring or humorous anecdote/story, and weave background and expertise into the short piece. The goal is to add key information creatively and compellingly.
When You Need to Write Your Own Bio
All of the steps above apply whether you need to craft a speaker’s bio for yourself or somebody else. Sometimes, this is more than creating one for someone else. Suppose you want to order a LinkedIn profile bio from a professional.
This is not a speaker’s bio, but it will contain much of the information you can shorten and extract for your piece. From this more generic piece, you can craft more speakers’ bios that will directly relate to LinkedIn groups, as well as bureaus with a smaller focus.
A couple of tips here: Always write your own bio in the third person, and have a trusted colleague or two read it over for engagement.
A speaker’s bio begins with the collection of a great deal of information, much of which you may not even use. From that collection, you must consider what relates directly to the audience and what in this speaker’s unique background, experience, and accomplishments are a “match.” Weave in a bit of creative storytelling and perhaps a bit of humor, and you’ll have a winner.
About the author:
Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger at EssaySupply, an aggregator for useful college resources and websites. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.