Your bio is the crucial first element to any presentation because it will ignite interest and leave people wanting more. Sadly, too many premier professionals have stale ineffective introductions. A bio is less like an academic term paper or resume, and more like an elevator pitch. Whether it is five sentences or five paragraphs, excellent bios have both sizzle and substance. You want to connect with readers and demonstrate your credibility. After receiving tons of submissions for the next season of BrainPower Hour, I’ve discovered that every bio should answer these three questions:
Who are you?
It is a valid question that many professionals never address.
- “All things being equal, people will do business with — and refer business to— those people they know, like and trust.” –Bob Burg
Regardless of the field, audiences have an easier time connecting when they know the person behind the profession. If your bio is for a formal context, choose a personal anecdote that leads into your professional achievements. In a more casual context, include a more colorful personal touch. Establishing trust goes beyond your professional track record. Create rapport to generate that warm feeling of trust. Demonstrate that you are human, even at the risk of seeming vulnerable.
What do you have?
After you establish rapport, demonstrate your credibility. There are several ways to position yourself as an authority. First, prove yourself on paper. Pull out your resume and include milestones in leadership, credentials, publications or relevant experiences for the occasion. Second, prove yourself socially. It is one thing to toot your horn. It is another when others cosign your greatness. Cite your collaborations, recommendations, or other social proof. Third, prove yourself over time. Your bio is often a first impression. But you are going to have to back it up. Since an internet search will verify your claim, ensure your online profiles and search results reflect your excellence.
Why should I care?
Your audience may get to know you and like you. You may bring all the relevant skills and experience to the table. So what?
- “Everybody's listening to WII-FM: What’s In It For Me?” – Larry Diangi
To secure a yes, your audience must see where they fit in. Don’t just show how much you can do. Before you close, show your audience how much you can do for them. Ultimately, your bio is not about you. It’s about offering a clear understanding of how your audience benefits from your contribution.
These pillars can be applied to anything from a quick opener for your next speech to your “About Me” website page. Some subtle transitions move your bio from a fact-laden detail of your expertise to a compelling story that leaves a distinct impression. With the power of social media, you will also benefit from leveraging your bio across your various networks.