Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Everyone Needs a Well-written Bio

Whether it’s for the About the Author section of your book or to post on social marketing sites or your own blog or Web site, every author and public speaker needs an interesting and well-written biographical sketch.

If you have ample time allotted, you can create an entertaining bio for the emcee to read as he or she introduces you, but if you only have fifteen minutes on stage, you don’t want the person introducing you to take up five minutes of your presentation time. So, how do you determine what is really important and should be included?

I use a questionnaire to gather information from the client, then I use this format to organize information for best impact.

1. Summarize. Open with your birthplace, tell where you are living now, and give a one- or two-sentence summary of what you do. This paragraph is your overview and opening statement. This may be the only part of your bio someone reads so don’t wait until the last paragraph to make a splash. Use humor if it is applicable.

2. List your academic credits. If your list is lengthy, just mention your degrees and where you studied. Make it pertinent to the role you are in or the job you want to apply for.

3. Next, tell how you started your career path. Add a short chronological history that includes valuable experience and contribution related to where you are now.

4. Add your goals or mission statement. Future plans, dreams, and ambitions show your forward motion and help define your purpose.

5. List any society or humanitarian contributions you have made, including volunteer work or committees you have chaired.

6. Mention your hobbies. Telling what you like to do in your spare time allows people to get to know you without you having to reveal too much personal information. This final paragraph gives a nice, warm, note to close.

A bio can be somewhat evergreen, but it will need updating just like your resume. If you move or change careers, or if you finish a project or earn a degree, add it to the appropriate place in your bio. You may want more than one bio—especially if you are multi-talented, have a day job and a part-time business. There’s always a need for a long and short versions.

A first impression always sticks with a customer so be sure it is a good first impression. If you get stuck writing your bio or need someone to give you a fresh perspective on your written image, give us a call! 615-415-9861 or check out our Web site:

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Shelley Gable said...

Thanks for the bio tips! I'm a relatively new freelance writer, and I've revisited my bio a handful of times since I started landing gigs. This gave me some food for thought.

Glenda Council Beall said...

thanks. I have a hard time writing a bio I like. Often I see my bio in print and wonder why I said what I did.
And I find I need a bio for submitting poetry and another for submitting prose. Then I need another when I want a bio for teaching a class.