We’ve all done it…..sat through an awards ceremony or conference and scrolled down our Facebook accounts while an emcee drones on and on about the next speaker’s accomplishments. While not our proudest moment, it’s totally understandable. A lot of professional bios out there go on for what seems like years.
The big problem is most professionals still use the same technique for writing bios that have been used for decades. These outdated techniques focus on establishing authority, rather than building a connection.
Bios were established to create trust between an audience and a speaker. Today, we still use bios for the same purpose. Although the intent is the same, the audience’s mindset has completely shifted.
At one time, the driving force for establishing trust was authority. The kind of thinking that existed 30 years ago was “Oh, he’s a doctor – he must know!”. In today’s culture most people fancy themselves exerts in fields for which they have no formal education. So, the kind of thinking now is, “are you sure? I know you’re a doctor, but I read online at Mayo Clinic…”.
The next thing to consider is many of us are skeptical when we hear of a stranger’s accomplishments. This is totally normal! In a world of ridiculously embellished resumes and online gurus who all make over six figures, yet can’t afford a professional camera guy for their Facebook Ads, it’s easy to be mistrustful that someone has had all the success they claim to have.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still the need for trust building with authority, backed by accomplishments and accolades. It is just no longer what you lead with, it’s what you use to support a connection and strengthen trust. When you merely rattle off your accomplishments, you are metaphorically stepping higher and higher onto that soapbox, looking down at your audience. Not a good place to be.
“That’s great in theory, but how to you accomplish this in practice, Zahra?”
I’m so glad you asked! Below you’ll find some helpful tips when writing your next bio.
1. Don’t wait until you’re asked for a bio to write a bio!
If you’re a professional, you need a bio. Have one on hand and ready to go at all times. If you already have one, make sure you are updating the details once or twice a year to include your most recent information. Last minute bios always look like last minute bios.
2. Watch your Length
Bios are used in several capacities, so be sure the length of your bio is appropriate for the use. A bio someone will have to read (i.e. website, blog, article feature) should be shorter than a bio someone will read aloud (i.e. presentation, conference).
3. Lead with your Purpose
The opening line is where you will captivate or lose your audience. Don’t waste your most important line with a statement of where you are from or what University you graduated from. Lead with your purpose.
“Zahra Cruzan has been on a mission to help small businesses become big brands for over five years.”
Immediately, it provides an opportunity for you to make a connection with the people in your audience that also care about helping small business, are a small business needing help, or know a small business owner who could use some help.
4. Write a Story, Not a Resume
Now that you have their attention, follow up with the story of the journey. When detailing your journey, be sure to make every point related to the mission or purpose you stated in your opening line. Remember to keep this portion concise and much shorter than what you would find on an “about us” page. This is where you build your authority in a relatable way. Use a lot of personal touches to offset the boastful nature of tooting your own horn. This section should include your education and achievements as a natural integration into your story.
“As a huge foodie and avid Food Network watcher, Zahra was over the moon when she landed a spot on the Chef Works campaign.”
5. Close with Excitement
If you’ve ever been to a concert or watched a boxing match, you’ll notice the announcers build up the intensity to a climax moment when they announce the arrival of the main attraction. Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you wear silk shorts to your next speaking engagement. But I will tell you it’s not a bad idea to take a page from their book and build up the excitement for the content to come. This can be your newest quest, a product, event coming down the pipe, or even a reference to what you are going to speak on.
“Next for Zahra is the launch of her online branding course, set to release late October.”
“ Zahra is here today to talk about how she creates bios that will land you that PR engagement you’ve been dreaming of.”