How to Write a Speaker Bio That Sells You + Your Presentation
You are presenting at a professional conference or networking group on your specialty. That’s great! Next, you receive one of the most dreaded emails from the organizers, “Please send us your professional bio and a hi-res headshot. Also, please keep your professional bio under 50 words.” Panic ensues for most professionals since this is usually needed right away and you have a business to run.
A professional bio is often needed for: your personal or company website; a listing in a professional directory; for articles or blog posts that you write; your social media profiles; for speaking engagements; when applying for corporate boards or the author page of your book. This post will primarily focus on writing a bio for a speaking engagement.
Treat your professional bio as a marketing tool to promote your brand. One speaking engagement can lead to potential clients, future strategic partners and additional speaking engagements.
Always write your speaker bio for the people you want to attract in your professional life and those who will be attending your presentation.
Use these 10 tips to write a professional bio that sells:
1. Introduce yourself. Give your name, title, company name and what people know you for in your professional life. This can also be your biggest accomplishment.
2. What are you known for? Share your expertise or niche. It is more powerful than being all things to all people. When you share your specialty, you give people a specific reason to connect with you. Keep in mind what your target audience would want to know about you.
3. List your most important accomplishments. Once you list your accomplishments, order them by what is most relevant to your audience. The reader will only want to see two or three strong accomplishments that add to your credibility. Show rather than tell by quantifying your results when possible. Think about showing the person behind the accolades.
4. Your story. What personal or humanizing details can you provide that are interesting to your audience? Did you have a life-changing moment or did you overcome adversity to get where you are today? Are any of your hobbies or volunteer work related to your professional image? Choose carefully here, especially if you are only allowed a 50-word bio. Even though being a proud spouse, parent or pet owner is an important part of your story, it is usually best to save these expanded personal details for the about page on your website or blog.
5. Tell people how to reach you. Include a link to your website, about page, LinkedIn profile or customized landing page.
6. Use strong verbs and active voice. This helps build credibility and authority while keeping the focus on your contributions.
7. Your professional headshot. If you don’t have a professional headshot, schedule one immediately. Ask colleagues or friends to recommend a photographer. Your photo helps potential attendees who may become clients connect with you through your bio before your presentation.
8. Write in the third person. Write your speaker bio as if someone else is talking about you. Don’t use “I” statements.
9. Create three versions of your professional bio. Now that you have a draft, edit it down to a 50-word, 100-word and 250-word version of your bio. With minor adjustments, you’ll be ready to send your bio no matter the required length. Even when there is no space limit, always go for a short, succinct bio. It is more powerful and stands out from all the other long wordy bios.
10. Critically read your bio. Ask yourself, “Would this bio make me want to meet me?” “Would I want to listen to me speak?” “Does this matter to anyone but me?” Have a few friends or colleagues read it to give you constructive feedback. Be open to their suggestions of what is unnecessary or missing.
Here are a few things to avoid:
- Don’t use jargon or buzzwords. Resist the urge to fill your professional bio with meaningless industry jargon or acronyms. They only make your bio wordy and boring. Buzzwords like “innovative” come off as fluffy and overused. Your reader will check out and not finish reading your bio.
- Don’t use passive voice. It is harder to read and comprehend. Plus, it tends to detract from your authority. Passive voice = form of “to be” + past participle
- Don’t send in a longer bio than requested. If the event organizer asks for a 50-word bio, send them a 50-word bio. You put your brand in the event organizer’s hands when you send in a longer bio than requested. Stay in control by sending the correct bio length. If in doubt, send your 50-word version to stand out from the longer bios. Less is more powerful.
Carve out some time to create or revise your professional bio. You’ll thank yourself the next time you speak at a professional event.