How to write an effective bio

It quickly became clear to me that my intended two-line response to a blog post about writing your own biography had inadvertently grown long enough to be a post of it’s own.

In the original post the author discusses why it is more difficult to write your own biography than someone else’s, and rightly reasons that you need to step outside yourself and see yourself as others do in order to make a success of it.

As a senior marketing and PR manager  I’ve had to write a lot of bios, including my own. As with all writing for business communications, you must start with a clear idea of who your audience is – who you are writing for. You need to determine what they will want to take out of it – what are the important points they want to know, and that are likely to elicit the response you want from them. Then tailor your writing to suit their needs, focusing on the most important points and filtering out extraneous information.

I’ve seen bios of very senior people with a lot of personal information in (family, kids, hobbies, etc,.). This may be fine if for some reason you really need to take a fluffy humanistic approach to your audience, but too often it is just self-indulgent. I will venture that most of the time your business audience doesn’t need to know – and doesn’t care.

If you are writing for a serious business crowd, whose schedules may only afford you a moment of their time (eg. potentially major client contracts or investors), then you will want to cut down on the personal fluff and focus on the facts that are going to reassure them that your management team has the credentials to ensure their investment in your company will yield the outcomes they want. They probably aren’t that interested in the fact that you kite-surf every Sunday morning or that your wife’s called Gemimah.

The same is often said for resume/CV writing, that the personal stuff is really just a footnote – many say forget it altogether, your employer wants to know you can do the job. In fact, I would suggest many of the same principles apply to both resumes and bios. Keep it concise and relevant to the audience, focus on the most salient points and make it absolutely clear why your audience should care.

Perhaps the trickiest part about bio writing is appealing to multiple audiences with different needs. In such cases you will be looking to strike a balance that serves to meet common needs as far as possible.

You can view the original blog post on the subject here:



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