How to write a personal biography for a conference
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If you're asked to give a talk at a convention or conference, chances are the event's organisers will want you to provide some background information about yourself.
An emcee sometimes reads speaker biographies by way of introduction, and short blurbs on speaker qualifications and accomplishments are often published in the conference program. The tricks to writing a good biography are boasting your strengths without being long-winded and avoiding accomplishments irrelevant to the theme of the conference.
Find out how long the event organisers want your bio to be. While some might want you to keep your list of accomplishments short and sweet, others might want a longer description of you, especially if you're a keynote speaker and your bio will be published in printed programs. If you can't get a guideline from the organisers of the event, aim for about 100 words.
Write the first sentence of your biography, summing up your professional experience in one line. For example, a senior programmer might write: "John Doe is a senior web programmer at Company X with experience coding in five languages and a passion for usability and information-sharing." According to Lab Times, the first line of your bio should describe who you are professionally, while the rest of your description should offer background details that support and clarify your initial claim.
- If you're asked to give a talk at a convention or conference, chances are the event's organisers will want you to provide some background information about yourself.
Write your biography's supporting details. If it helps you to focus your efforts, list accomplishments that you must include and distil these into sentence form first, starting with achievements at the beginning of your career and describing your most recent endeavours at the end. For example, the senior programmer mentioned in the previous step might write: "John graduated with a B.Sc. in computer science in 2004. After graduation, John worked with Start-up Company Y to help them design and launch their new corporate website. Later, in 2008, John moved into a challenging role with Z Corporation, where he orchestrated the logistics of a major web redesign project and led the Designing for Usability task force."
Review your bio, keeping word count in mind. If you're considerably over your word count, consider what points you can omit. If you're under, add other accomplishments that didn't make your high priority list in Step 3.
- Write your biography's supporting details.
- If you're under, add other accomplishments that didn't make your high priority list in Step 3.
Edit your biography, ensuring correct spelling, grammar and sentence structure. Make sure you maintain an objective-sounding style and write in the third person throughout. More informal, first-person descriptions ("I am an information systems analyst at Company A") work well for websites and blogs, but aren't appropriate for serious business events. If possible, let a friend or colleague read your bio and offer comments.
- Spell out the names of any formal organisations you mention. For example, write "Food and Drug Administration" instead of FDA.
- Avoid humour and sarcasm. Save jokes for your actual speech, if appropriate, or confine them to your personal blog or website.
- Don't provide any personal information, such as your address, salary or spouse's name.
- Avoid irrelevant personal information or career details that don't align with your current career path.
A professional writer since 2006, Colleen Reinhart has held positions in technical writing and marketing. She also writes lifestyle, health and business articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from the University of Waterloo, and a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Toronto.