How to Write a Bio

At some point in your career you will be asked for a bio. Will you be ready?  I challenge my interns to write bios because I know it’s one of the toughest things we do, even if we know the person as well as ourselves, even if it’s for ourselves. 

Here are some tips to help you when your time comes.

  1. Practice. Practice on friends, family and colleagues.
  2. Get it on paper and walk away. I always start with a legal pad and go somewhere I won’t be distracted.  Then I create a word document, save it and leave it until the next day.  Getting it started is the toughest part, by tomorrow you’ll be able to give it a fresh review and the edits will come more easily.
  3. Interview the subject.  Ask them questions about where they’ve been, what’ve they are doing now and where they are going. 
  4. Think about how you’d describe the person to someone else (or how someone might describe you.)  Include those descriptions.
  5. Enlist an extra set of eyes. Always get help during editing and rewrites.
  6. When you craft the bio, consider this formula:  paragraph one: what is the person doing right now; paragraph two: upbringing and education; paragraph three: personal and professional accomplishments; paragraph four: goals and aspirations.
  7. Research.  Search for other bios from similar people and get a feel for what sounds best, formulas, etc.
  8. Quotes.  Some bios include quotes by the person. This is an individual decision.  It’s also acceptable to have two versions for whatever situation you may need the bio – lighthearted and extremely professsional. 
  9. The Long and Short.  Be prepared with a shorter version of your bio for when only a paragraph will do.
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