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Speaker Bio: How to Write

by Barbra Sundquist

How to write a bio for motivational speakerA speaker bio is a brief summary of your education, work history and experience that is relevant to your speaking topic (the focus is on brief and relevant). The organization requesting your speaker’s bio may specify a format and length. If they don’t, follow these speaker bio guidelines:

  • Keep your speaker biography brief—no more than 75 to 100 words. Biographies that are too long simply don’t get read. Or worse, the organization may summarize your bio in a way that you don’t like.
  • Include your current position and a brief mention of work history and experience that is relevant to your speaking topic and audience
  • Include academic qualifications, awards, and a reference to published work, but only if applicable to the material you are presenting

Getting started writing your speaker’s bio

To start writing, use a point form method or use a speaker bio template. A bio template is just an outline for you to fill in the blanks. You can list out the following points:

1) Profession
2) Years of experience
3) Awards or achievements
4) Contact details

Speaker bio examples

Joan Smith is the Chief Innovation Officer for PeopleCAD® and a frequent speaker at industry events. For the past four  years, Joan has written a monthly magazine column called “Industry News”. She started using PeopleCAD® software with Release 1.0, almost 20 years ago. She also taught at the university level for several years. Her latest book is entitled PeopleCAD® Demystified.

Dr. Jones heads up the post graduate program at the Health Sciences Hospital of Alberta. His numerous professional publications focus on his research and clinical interests in the psycho-social aspects of hospice care. His current research focuses on the tools of orthomolecular medicine in palliative medicine. This is Dr. Jones’ third year speaking at the CMA annual conference.

Variations in speaker bio style

Sometimes, a different style is needed when the age group is known. If you need to speak to young people in a Career Guidance Day session, your bio needs to be less formal and certain sentences can be rephrased. Instead of this formal style:

Charles Granger, CPA founded the Financial Planner SBO systems to track hedge funds for the bank. This system enabled the bank to monitor and project profits and ultimately offered a prudent way of multiplying the banks overall capital.

You could write something that young people would understand and better relate to:

Mr. Granger made a lot of money for Citizens Business Bank by using a system he patented.

To summarize, a speaker bio is:

  • used as introductory or promotional material
  • an overview of the person written in narrative form
  • written in the third person
  • brief and relevant to the speaking engagement topic
  • a summary of education, experience and achievements

A template makes writing a speaker bio quick and easy!

Does writing a speaker bio seem like just one more task on your long to-do list? If so, get a fill-in-the-blanks bio template written specifically for professional speaking engagements. You’ll have it all done and complete within the next 20 minutes. (Note: choose the bio template that relates to your main profession.)

How to Write a Music Bio

The purpose of your music artist bio is to introduce you and your music to the world. Your bio needs to be informative as well as creative if it is going to make an impact on those you wish to impress.

Impress? Yes, you want your musician bio to impress. Even though you may feel that your music should speak for itself, you still need to provide fans, agents, journalists and others with some compelling words about you and your music so that they decide to engage further with you. You want them to read your music artist bio and think “wow, this musician sounds interesting. I want to learn more. I may just give them some of my hard-earned money/time/space”.

So what should be in your music bio?

1. Introduce yourself. Start out by saying who you are and what you do. “Jane Z. Smith sings traditional blues songs” conveys your name and style clearly and economically.

2. Use plain language to present yourself professionally. This is not the place to be cute, cryptic or ironic (unless that’s part of your band’s image and branding).

3. Don’t make them guess. Please, please, please don’t say that your music is unclassifiable. Not only is it a boring cliche, but booking agents need to know what kind of music you perform in order to book you in the right venues. Think of it this way: if you love Thai food the best, and you’re really craving Thai food tonight, and there are literally thousands of restaurants in your city, which restaurant would you choose: “Yummy Thai” or “Mystery Restaurant”? I thought so.

4. Keep it short. The shorter your bio, the more likely people will be to read the whole thing. Start out by writing everything that comes to mind, and then edit, edit, edit. Ideally your bio should be no more than a couple of paragraphs long. As songwiters know, much can be conveyed in a few words!

5. Showcase some of the most important achievements of your career. If you’ve received awards or performed with other well-known artists be sure to mention that. This will allow your audience to know that your talents are respected by others in the industry.

6. The first couple of paragraphs should be given to what is going on right now with you and your band. If you are expecting to have a new album or CD ready for release soon, give the date so that your fans will be ready to purchase it. Give dates and locations for where you will be if you are going on tour.

7. Give some personal background. Your fans will want to know what made you want to enter the music business, and how and when you met the members of your band. Let your audience know what adversities you had to overcome in order to get where you are today.

8. Ask for help. Writing a bio on yourself is different than any other kind of writing. Almost everyone finds it difficult to write about themselves. Where to start? What to include? More to the point, what to leave out? You’re a musician, not a technicial writer. So ask a writer friend to help you with your bio, or consider using our musician bio template or band bio template to get a professional bio in the correct style and format.

Let’s face it, writing a music artist bio is not easy. In fact, writing your bio is probably one of the most difficult things you’ll have to do in your music career. The good news is that once you’ve written a good basic music bio, you’ll only have to update it for various situations (e.g. longer, shorter, focussing on a specific audience).

If you use these tips to help you write a music bio, you will certainly create a compelling story that will help your music career.

A bio template makes writing a music biography quick and easy!

Does writing a music bio seem like just one more task on your long to-do list? Are you unsure about your ability to present yourself in the best possible light? If so, get a fill-in-the-blanks music bio template written specifically for a musician. You’ll have it all done and complete within the next 20 minutes.

Military army navy airforce board biographyThe military bio format is much like the bio format used in civilian life, although there are a few key differences that you should be aware of. Regardless of whether your military service is in the army, navy, airforce or coast guard, your military bio is designed to do one thing: provide a brief but impressive narrative summary of the highlights of your military career. You’ll be asked for a military biography if you’re applying to get a promotion or move into a different branch of the military. You might also need a military bio to introduce you as a speaker or to credit you as the author of an article or book.

If you’re not sure how to write a military biography, here are some guidelines that will help:

1) Be brief. The standard military bio format is roughly 150 words when written and no longer than 60 seconds when read aloud.

2) Write in third person but use first person when reading it aloud. Third person would be like this: “Jane Smith trained with”, while first person would be like this: “I trained with”.

3) Start with personal information such as your name, rank, branch, and place of birth.

4) Focus on your military history in chronological order from basic training to the present.

5) Sunmarize the training and duties you have completed, as well as your deployment history and status. Don’t forget about your civilian training and experience. Even if it’s in a different occupation, civilian training and experience can be a major selling point because it sets you apart from someone who has only military experience.

6) Include additional information such as awards and accomplishments, as well as any interesting or impressive details of how you rose in the ranks

7) Conclude by briefly stating your goals for the future.

That’s a lot of information to get out in 60 seconds! You’re either going have write succintly or talk fast! (joke)

A bio template makes writing a military biography quick and easy!

Does writing a military bio seem like just one more task on your long to-do list? Are you unsure about your ability to present yourself in the best possible light? If so, get a fill-in-the-blanks military bio template written specifically for military service. You’ll have it all done and complete within the next 20 minutes.

How to write a motivational speaker biography You’ve finished writing your article and are ready to send it off, but there’s one last task: writing an author bio. It’s hard to know exactly how to write an author bio, even if you’re a writer. So many things to say and so few words allowed in the author box! How do you decide what to focus on and which URLs to link to?

Here are some points to consider when writing an “about the author” box.

1) Decide on the purpose of the article. Is it to get people to view you as an expert? Then make sure your author box highlights your most impressive relevant qualifications. Do you also want them to go to your website? Then be sure to include a link to the exact page you want them to land on.

2) Prepare several versions of your bio in different lengths, so you can have them on hand for various uses. The “about the author” box at the end of an online article is generally two or three brief sentences (or 50 to 100 words). However, your author blurb in a newspaper or magazine might only be a few words such as “Sally Smith is an Ottawa based gardening writer”, followed by your email address. An author bio in a query letter for a book proposal would also be no more than 100 words. You can include a longer bio when you write your website biography.

3) Decide on the points you want to include. Most authors find that they have more information than they need. Be ruthless in editing your bio to include only points that are relevant. Does your fishing hobby provide good background for a murder mystery novel you are submitting to a publisher? Probably not. You worked in a coroner’s office for a couple of weeks to learn about medical examiner’s terminology? Now that’s relevant!

4) Make a list of writing credits to highlight, but confine yourself to three or else it will take up too much space.

5) Include contact information and a website so readers can learn more about you and your writing.

6) An author bio plays an important role because it communicates who you are. In the same way that a business card introduces you, a bio serves as a short introduction to your writing. Take the time to think carefully about what you want readers to remember when they hear your name.

7) Readers like to know about you. Biographical information such as marital status, number of children, pets and hobbies show that you are a normal person and helps readers relate to you.

8) Reflect your unique writing style in your author bio. Your bio provides an opportunity to give readers a sense of what to expect from your writing. Reflect the content and style of your work in how you write your author bio. For example, if you’re a humorous or satirical writer, include some humor in your bio. If you’re an academic writer, take an academic approach. The tone you take in writing your bio creates expectation of your written work.

Here are two contrasting examples of how to write an author bio to create an expectation of your writing style:

Norman Langford grew up spying on the neighbours and taking notes in a little black book. No surprise that he ended up writing spy novels!

Dr. Laura Smith has been writing on gender studies for over 20 years. Her research interests include mothering, gender roles and media representation of women.

Consider Using a Template

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. We have a fill-in-the-blanks author bio template that will help you write a great bio. That way you can complete your bio writing task and get back to the writing that you actually enjoy!

Actor Bio: How to Write

by Barbra Sundquist

How to write a bio for actor playbill - templateAn actor bio is a brief summary of your education, work history and experience that is relevant to the acting profession (the focus is on brief and relevant). The theatre or agency requesting your actor bio may specify a format and length. If they don’t, follow these actor bio guidelines:

  • Keep your actor biography brief—about 100 – 250 words. Biographies that are too long simply don’t get read.
  • Write in the third person (“John Smith acted in”, not “I acted in”).
  • Include your acting credits and your training. If you have a long list of credits, just mention a few credits (the most impressive ones) in the narrative part of your bio and then add a point-form list of all credits at the end.
  • It’s optional to include biographical information such as marital status, number of children, and place of birth. If you don’t have many acting credits yet, this personal information can help flesh out your bio.
  • List your contact details at the end. Since a bio doesn’t have room to reflect all your achievements, you can also include a website link to your portfolio and contact email address.

Accentuate the positive

You might have a lot of experience but no formal training. Or you might have attended a prestigious acting school but you don’t have much experience yet. Don’t worry about it. You can choose what gets highlighted in your actor bio. Just write about what you have and don’t even address what you don’t have. In the end, the ability you show at the audition will count most of all. There are plenty of people performing on Broadway who did not attend the “name-brand” schools.

You have a brand

Like a fashion designer, you have a brand to sell. You’ve got skills, you’ve trained and studied your craft, you’ve acted, and you do good work. Project this in your theatre bio by describing yourself with confidence and verve.

Write more than one bio

You need more than one theatre or actor bio, depending on its intended purpose. Here are the most typical bios you might need.

  • a short bio or “blurb” that you would use in a theatre program. A short bio is normally no more than two or three sentences.
  • a longer bio would be needed for an audition. This would be 100 – 250 words long.
  • a full biography might be required for your website or a press release. A full length biography could up to a page in length (250 – 500 words).

Get started writing your actor’s bio

To start writing, use a point form method or use an actor bio template. A bio template is just an outline for you to fill in the blanks. You can list out the following points:

1) Training

2) Experience

3) Awards or achievements

4) Contact details

5) Acting credits

To summarize, an actor bio is:

  • used as introductory or promotional material
  • an overview of the person written in narrative form
  • written in the third person
  • brief and relevant to the acting job
  • a summary of education, experience and achievements

A template makes writing an actor bio quick and easy!

Does writing an actor or theatre bio seem like just one more task on your long to-do list? If so, get a fill-in-the-blanks bio template written specifically for theatre and acting professionals. You’ll have it all done and complete within the next 20 minutes.

A professional bio (biography) tells a story about you, whereas a resume gives a summary of your complete work history. Both describe your background but the level of detail and presentation are different. Between the two, a bio is less formal and easier to read than a resume.

A bio is:

  • basically used as promotional material or as an introduction to the person
  • often found in the “about me” or “profile” section of a website. Examples are found on printed and web materials for speakers, company personnel, business owners, and authors
  • an overview of the person written in a narrative form (sentences and paragraphs)
  • normally written in the third person
  • usually includes includes years of experience, some well-known companies, recognized commercial awards
  • may optionally include marital status, number of children, place of dwelling, and other personal  details
  • basically a short story and more interesting to read than a resume
  • not sufficient to submit for a job application

A resume is:

  • normally required when applying for a job
  • a summary of past work history
  • provides in detail, the work experience, job positions and responsibilities, education with colleges attended, skill certificates achieved and trainings completed
  • normally formatted in bullet form and chronological order
  • more formal than a bio
  • usually longer than a bio
  • never includes marital status, number of children, place of dwelling or other personal details

A bio template makes writing a short bio quick and easy!

Does writing a short bio seem like just one more task on your long to-do list? If so, get a fill-in-the-blanks bio template written specifically for your type of job. You’ll have it all done and complete within the next 20 minutes.

Write a Short Bio

by Barbra Sundquist

When writing a short bio, first ask yourself who will be reading it. Will it be visitors to your website? Someone introducing you as a speaker? Potential investors in your business venture? The reason why this is important is because what you include in a short bio will vary depending on the target audience.

Think about what’s most important to the reader

Here’s an important distinction: Although a short bio is written is about you, it is written for your audience. In other words, think about what aspects of you and your background would be important to the reader.

By definition, a short bio is short

One of the hardest things about writing short bios is deciding what to include and what to leave out. It’s hard to summarize a life and career in just a few sentences. Again, the key is to think about who is going to be reading your bio. If your bio is going to be used to introduce you as a speaker at an industry conference, what do those folks in the audience want to know about you? Probably they want to know whether you are worth listening to! So for that audience, focus your short bio on your accomplishments as they relate to that industry.

Focus on the highlights

To get started writing a bio, list the highlights of your life, career and accomplishments as they relate to the target audience. Then ruthlessly edit the list down to a few key details—things that can easily be described in a sentence or two—and discard the rest. Yes, I know it’s painful but it must be done!

Get rid of unnecessary details

The reality is that people are only going to spend 30 – 60 seconds reading your bio. If you write too much, readers are simply going to skip over the details. Take charge of what people remember about you by writing a short bio that highlights your best accomplishments.

Begin with a strong statement

Begin with a statement that puts your career in perspective —for example, “John Smith has over 20 years experience as a senior manager,” or “Jane Doe is an award-winning mystery writer.” Follow that with other details that demonstrate your expertise and underscore your relevant achievements.

Conclude with personal and contact info

Finish off your short bio with a statement about your personal life–for example, “She lives in Seattle with her husband and three cats.” Don’t forget to include your contact information at the end of your short bio.

A bio template makes writing a short bio quick and easy!

Does writing a short bio seem like just one more task on your long to-do list? If so, get a fill-in-the-blanks bio template written specifically for your type of job. You’ll have it all done and complete within the next 20 minutes.

FREE FILL-IN-THE-BLANK BIO TEMPLATES
Writing a personal or professional biography is one of those tasks that most of us dread. What to write without sounding cheesy? What to include, what to leave out? Often it seems easier just to ignore the task until another day. But at the same time, we all know that a great work bio is a necessary document these days.

One way to make this dreaded task easier is to use fill-in-the-blank biography templates. When you use the templates provided below, all you have to do is choose one or two sentences from each of the four categories and add your details. The result will be a great short bio.

To structure your bio, choose one or two sentences from each of the four categories below.

1) who you are

2) what your expertise is (credentials and experience)

3) why the reader should care about your expertise

4) how the reader can contact you

I’ve organized the bio sentence templates below into the four “who, what, why, and how” categories. Choose one or two sentences from each category, fill in the blanks, and you’ll be done!

 Category #1: WHO you are (choose one or two sentences)

NAME is a _________ (your job title) with ___________ (company name). In this role, NAME looks after/coordinates/manages/leads a team providing (choose one of the foregoing) all aspects of _______, including _____, _____ and ______.

A big believer in ______, NAME supports _______.

NAME is a qualified __________ (your professional designation, e.g. electrician, property appraiser, esthetician) and holds the _________ degree/certification (choose one) from ______ (name of educational institution). (Note: some people prefer to put the education part at the end of the professional bio, just prior to the contact information.)

Category #2: WHAT your expertise is (choose one or two sentences)

NAME is no stranger to ________ (your industry or type of work), having spent ___ years as a ________ and a __________ (occupations: e.g. fitness instructor, computer support specialist, entrepreneur, professional dancer,  senior executive), where he/she  ____________ (your major responsibilities or accomplishments in that role).

NAME has more than ____ years of ______ experience in _______.

Prior to starting his/her _________ (type of business) business, NAME spent _______ years as a ______________ and a __________(your relevant experience).

Before joining ______ (company name) in ______ (year), NAME worked for ___ (years) for a diverse range of organizations, including _____ , _______ and ________(e.g. small business startups; large corporations; private sector; non-profits; government agencies).

In this role, NAME was responsible for ______, ______ and ____.

Category #3: WHY the reader should care about your expertise (choose one or two sentences)

NAME helps _________ (your target clients) to ___________ (a problem or goal your target clients have). [For example, if you are a CPA or accountant, you might write “She can help your company make decisions about allocating resources by providing assurance about financial information.”]

NAME offers a wide range of programs and services, from ___________, to __________ and __________ (your services)

Drawing on _______ (many, several, XX) years experience in ___________, ___________ and _________ (former jobs or industries), NAME now focuses mainly on __________ and ________.

After a successful career in __________ (what you’ve been successful in), NAME now coaches/teaches/advises (choose one) other people how to achieve the same success.

NAME’S varied background in ___________, ___________ and _________ (former jobs or industries) provided the perfect foundation for _________ (what you are doing now).

Passionate about ______and its possibilities, NAME provides ______ services that help _______, _____ and _______ to ________.

Her/his book ________ (book title) was published in ____ (publication year) and has since helped _______ (number: dozens? hundreds? thousands?) of people to _______ (problem book solved for them, or what it taught them)

NAME has _____________ (your accomplishments, e.g. published articles in; had exhibits at; consulted to) ______, _______, and ______, among others. [For example, “Naomi’s mixed media collages were featured in the January 2015 print issue of Somerset Studio magazine and a feature article about her work was published on the magazine’s website.”

Category #4: HOW to contact you (choose one sentence)

To contact NAME please email ______ or go to _______ (your web site).

NAME is available for private consultations on ______, and can be reached at (PHONE NUMBER) or by email at ______

A final word about writing your professional bio

Use these bio templates as a starting point but try not to feel constrained by them. If there’s something that you think is interesting or important to add, by all means do so! Trust your own judgment and let your personal or professional bio reflect what is unique about you.

The standard advice for writing a bio is to write in the third person (as though someone else is writing about you). However, there are a few exceptions to the “third person rule”.

Here are four situations when you should write your bio in first person instead of third-person:

1) when you are writing a mini-bio for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites. Social networks are informal gathering places, so a less formal bio is appropriate (seeexamples here).

2) when you are applying for a program or scholarship. Applications work best when they are written in a personal voice, e.g. “I would like to attend X school because…” rather than “John would like to attend X school because…”

3) when the person or agency requesting your bio has specified that they want it in first person

4) if you simply feel more comfortable writing your bio in first person (it’s your choice!)

Don’t get too hung up on the “third person” or “first person” issue. There’s no absolute right or wrong, just conventions. Third person tends to sound formal and professional, whereas first person sounds more informal and friendly.

If you do decide to write your bio in first person, you will also need a version of it in third person for occasions such as speaking engagements when someone else is introducing you.

accountant-cpa-bio-templateWriting a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) bio is a great way to advertise your services and connect with new clients.

To stand out from the competition, you need a bio that gets your message across clearly. The key is to focus on what you can do for your potential clients, and what makes you uniquely qualified to handle their accounting business.

Here are seven key tips to help you write an effective CPA, CA or other accounting professional biography.

1. Draw the client in

Grab your client’s attention by bringing their interests into it right from the beginning. They want to know what you can do for them, so begin by answering that question. What makes you uniquely qualified to help them? There’s no one formula for this, but open with your name and then jump right into a short, engaging sentence that sums up why you stand out from the crowd.

Example of how to begin an Accountant or CPA professional biography:

_____________ (your name) is a/an ____________ (your professional designation, e.g. Certified Public Accountant; Chartered Accountant; Certified Internal Auditor; Controller; Chief Financial Officer) and a/an/the ____________ (your position title, if different from your professional designation e.g. owner; founder; President; Principal; Staff Tax Preparer; Taxation Department Head) at __________ (name of company or organization), a/an ___________ (description of your company or organization, e.g. full-service accounting firm; tax practice; accounting consultancy; private equity audit firm) in _____________ (location).

2. Write in third person

Traditionally, professional biographies are written in third person (as though someone else is talking about you). With the advent of social media there is a trend toward shorter, less formal bios, especially on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. However, for an professional accountant or company bio third person is more appropriate because it conveys a more professional impression.

If you’ve forgotten the difference between first-person and third-person voice, here’s a short refresher: Instead of writing “I am” and “I graduated”, write “Jane Smith is” and “She graduated”. Use your full name (first and last) the first time. After that, it’s up to you whether to refer to yourself by your full name, just your first name, or just your last name.

3. Focus on client needs

When listing your expertise and education, focus on how your credentials can benefit your client. Don’t assume your credentials will speak for themselves: your potential clients don’t necessarily understand everything about your job or what you can do for them, so it’s your job to inform them in terms they will understand.

Focus on specific client needs, and then tie in your skills. For example, if you have specialized experience in auditing, you might focus on how you can help the company implement internal control systems and procedures. Don’t be afraid to address the client directly as “you” or “your company.”

For example: ______(your name) can help your company ______(accomplish an important goal, such as make decisions about allocating resources) by _________ (using relevant skills or experience, such as providing assurance about financial information).

4. Make it memorable

There are lots of accountants out there, but only one of them has your unique set of experiences, skills, and qualifications. Think about what sets you apart, and focus on your strongest, most relevant, and most unique skills. Chances are, your client is skimming a lot of bios, so make sure you stand out by using memorable details.

For example, you might focus on your area(s) of specialization, your many years of experience, or your exceptional education, depending on what is most relevant and impressive to the clients you are trying to attract.

Example:

_______________ (your name) earned his/her __________ degree from the University of __________ and his/her ___________ (name of professional designation, e.g. CPA, CA, CGA) from ____________ (designating body, e.g. the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario). He/She is also a/an __________ (additional designations, e.g. Civil and Criminal court-appointed accounting expert).

5. Make it easy to read

When you write your accountancy bio, break the information into short paragraphs (no more than three sentences in each paragraph). Studies show that when people are faced with a large block of text (especially on a computer screen), they just skim over it quickly. By making your paragraphs nice and short, you’ll increase the likelihood that people will actually read your bio.

6. Eliminate passive voice

Whenever possible, use action verbs that focus directly on what you have done or can do. Avoid passive voice, which not only makes your writing wordier but often means you’re taking your customer out of the action. If that happens, they’ll quickly drift away.

A trick that I use is to scan my document for the word “of”. Often when you find “of” you’ll find the passive voice, and you can easily change it to active voice. For example:

Passive voice: Our accounting company was involved in the conducting of major audits.

Active voice: Our accounting acompany conducted major audits.

7. End with a call to action

In your conclusion, speak directly to your potential clients. Make sure they walk away with a clear message about what makes you uniquely suited to help them.

For example: Contact _______ (your name) today to get started ________ (accomplishing an important goal) at _______ (phone number and/or other contact info).

Again, the key to writing a strong bio is staying focused on what you can do for your client. Remember, although your accountant biography is written about you, it’s written for your client. Include your skills and qualifications, but always link it back to the client’s needs and interests.

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