Friday, February 3, 2012

Advice for Writing a Bio

-- How to Write a Bio for Your Press Kit --  

The following article was written by Joan Stewart of

Most bios I read are more potent than sleeping pills. Some of the most talented authors write the worst bios. So do most professional speakers, who cram their entire life's history into their introduction, putting the audience to sleep long before they take the microphone. Don't even ask me what I think about the bios written by engineers, architects, accountants and attorneys.
Why, oh why, do we make ourselves sound so boring?

A well-written bio can convey to your potential clients, the media, and your other audiences that you are fun, creative and entertaining.

How to Find Good Material
If you do PR for your company and need to write a bio for someone else, find out personal information about them by asking open-ended questions. Then weave their best answers into the bio. These questions can get you started:
  • Who is your hero? And why?
  • What one event in your childhood had the greatest effect on your life?
  • If you weren’t doing what you do today, what other job would you have?
  • What “lesson from mom” do you still live by today?
  • Do you have a pet? If so, tell me about him or her.
  • What’s the craziest thing you have done?
You don’t have to include all of the above in a bio. Even just a few interesting answers will perk up drab copy.

Forget the Resume Stuff
Part of what makes most bios so dull is that many people lift material from their resumes, including long lists of things such as degrees earned, honors and awards, and other employment history. If you’re writing a bio that’s posted at your website, provide a few paragraphs of bio information, then hotlink to your actual resume, where anyone who cares can search for details about your job history.   

Write a Poem
One of the most clever bios I ever read is actually the introduction used by Dr. Al Lippart, a Wisconsin veterinarian, when he does speaking engagements. It starts out like a typical introduction but morphs into a poem:

          Dr. Lippart’s veterinary patients include baby animals that weigh just ounces
          to farm animals that weigh more than a ton. Most of his patients have been
          cows, but he also treats bulls and steers, cats and dogs, hamsters and fish,
          horses and hogs.
          Chickens and ducks, sheep and llamas,
          He even fixes skunks so they don’t become mamas.
          He sees miniature mules and pigmy goats
          Zebras, camels and giraffes with sore throats.
           He has operated on cougars, lions, tigers and bears,
           Monkeys, foxes, ferrets and hares.
           For over 27 years he’s been having a ball
           Caring for all kinds of creatures great and small.

Not one mention of a college degree. Just amusing and memorable.
Now get going on your own bio. And remember, thou shalt not bore.

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