If you are keen on speaking at conferences, it is inevitable that at some point, someone from the conference organising company will ask for your biography. After all, the company needs to be able to see your role at your present company at a glance, as well as view your background, to make sure you are a suitable speaker and a saleable asset for the conference.
It can be an intimidating task to summarise your career in a short concise paragraph, so follow our top tips on creating a digestible and easy-to-read personal synopsis.
Know the difference
It may sound obvious, but as a time-served conference producer who has been sent a lot of CVs, I thought it was best to point this out. A biography is not the same as a CV, which lists your achievements in past jobs for a potential employer. A biography is a short summary of the ‘high points’ of your career in a digestible paragraph (or three), and acts as an introduction to who you are.
Keep it short
In terms of length, here’s the simple rule; if it is too long, people won’t read it. Remember that this is not just about attracting the eye of the conference producer, this information will feature on the event website and possibly be in the conference brochure mailed out to thousands of individuals. It’s the tool that the conference chair will use to introduce you on the day. Give everyone a break and make the thing easy on the eye, no matter how many companies you’ve shone at.
The general rule of thumb is to talk about your current role at your employer, your previous roles there, then summarise the rest of your employment in a sentence. For example: prior to joining x, x had senior marketing roles at x, x and x.
Make it clear
To start your biography, it is a good idea to state exactly what your job role is, and what that entails (e.g xxx is Vice President of xxx, looking after…).
If you want to be really clever, it’s worth then tailoring your next information to the conference and what you’re going to be talking about. For example, if you are an HR executive talking about the importance of developing a learning culture within your organisation, why not state it? E.g: Starting in 2006, Richard Thomas has worked hard to forge a real culture of learning within the organisation and leads on a range of key activities centred around elearning, coaching, knowledge sharing and employee engagement.
Make it readable
Break it up into 2 or 3 short paragraphs. People are much more likely to read it looking like that than a block of text.
Add a photograph
9 times out of 10 you will be asked for your profile photograph to go on the event website, or a print brochure, or some other promotional material. Make it easy on yourself and the conference producer and add this to your biography.
Spoken at anything else? Been nominated for an award? Been featured in a recent business supplement? Any other interesting info that might attract a conference producer?
A client I was recently looking to place had appeared as a resident expert on a well-known (if rather low-brow) TV programme and was somewhat reticent to mention it. However, if it is something that whets the appetite of the organiser and your potential audience, it’s worth putting down.
Depending on what company you work for, you may want to run your biography past the powers that be. They may want to add in a short, standardised soundbite about the organisation and will need to check that what you’ve written reflects the message that the company wants to put out there.
Keep up online
Lastly, don’t forget that these days, everyone looks at Linkedin as a first port of call when looking to see who you are. Once you’ve built your biographical masterpiece, get it straight online to make sure it reflects exactly what you want to say.
If you have any top tips for how you have created the perfect biography, please share them in the comments below.