Through my work life I have had a number of opportunities of speaking at local and international conferences, serving on several global and local committees, interviews with global media houses, and serving as a judge on a number of global media panels. With all these responsibilities I have been asked to compile a 250 word biography that can be used to introduce me to the various audiences.
Earlier this month, I also had an opportunity of reviewing a number of documents as part of my consultancy work and part of the documents people where supposed to share was a 250 word biography and I was amazed at how many people are ignorant in this area and how people treat the biography section.
A biography (according to the Webster dictionary) is usually written history of a person’s life or an account of the life of something. In other words, it is a document where you not down an account of your several life achievements. It is an opportunity to market yourself as a brand. I think the greatest gift anyone or any company can give to you as an individual is an opportunity for you to market yourself i.e. to tell the whole world what your worth.
During the review of the documents earlier this month, I noticed that despite having been given ONLY 250 words to write about yourself some people wasted them writing about their hobbies, how sweet their sister is, describing the place they work, adding inspirational quotes, jokes that make them laugh etc. I believe adding some of these is a waste of the precious few words you have been given to describe yourself. Unless you do not know the value of the opportunity you have been given by the person who is asking for your biography.
I personally believe there are 4 key principles when writing a biography. These are:
- Know the purpose for writing the biography. It is often said that where purpose is not known abuse is inevitable. Before you actually start documenting your bio, find out the purpose/reason why you are writing the biography and align your biography to suit the purpose. Do not just write EVERYTHING you have achieved, make it purposeful. e.g. if the people who have asked you to compile your bio are into leadership, compile your bio to suit that audience. That way it will be relevant and well received.
- Brief and to the point: In most cases when they asked for your biography, they will give you a specific number of words to use, so always make it mandatory to keep your biography brief and straight to the point. DO NOT waste your words. Make sure each line you add to it is very relevant and is one the best represents you or an achievement you would want to highlight.
- Study the audience and write to a specific audience: Just like with any other piece of writing, it is always important to write for a specific audience, this will make it more receptacle to that audience. Do not write like you are writing to everyone; that will hinder your reach. Have a specific target audience in mind and write to them.
- Meet the requirements: Each time you are asked for a biography, you will be given certain conditions/requirements that you need to meet e.g. 250 words or less. Discipline is a very essential attribute for every individual so please ensure to maintain discipline and meet all the requirements that have been set out by the people who asked you to share your biography.
Finally, after meditating and researching on biographies here are some of the things I believe one should add to their biography to make it readable and relevant.
- A bit about your personal life (depends on audience e.g. it is fitting to talk about my family and marital status at my church)
- Your passions, personality, and ambitions
- Your past work experience and achievements
- Your education experience and skill-set
- And any other phrases that you feel will market you to the audience
In conclusion, always remember your biography is meant to market/highlight you the individual and not the places where you work so do not spend a lot of time talking about your work place, you can just simply mention the place you worked in and what you achieved there but do not waste words describing what they do and how it is a very organization is. Your biography is about YOU not your place of work.
Hope you find this helpful and are now comfortable writing your biography the next time you are asked for one.