How to write a better bio

writing Aug 14, 2021

Someone asked the other day if I would look at his biography. He had to submit it for some promotional purpose, so he asked if I thought he’d done a good job.

I told him it would be great for a bad obituary. It was dull, a litany of bloodless facts, and contained no hint of the vibrant personality being written about. “Is this how you introduce yourself when you meet new people?” I asked.

“Of course not,” he said, and he laughed. He got it. Of course a bio needs to catalogue certain dates and events and qualifications. But it can - and I believe it must - go so much further. It should reflect the passions with which you approach life.

Let me offer this plea to anyone about to write their bio. Stop. Take a breath. Sit down, or take a walk. Ask yourself this question:

  • Why do I do what I do?

Don’t settle for the first answer you come up with, which might be ‘It pays the mortgage.’ Go deeper.

  • Why do you care about whatever enterprise you are involved in?
  • What do you get out of it?
  • How does it affect other people?
  • What change happens because of what you do?

The answers to these questions are probably the sparks that fuel your passion. They encapsulate what keeps you going, even when the going gets rough.

Try writing the first paragraph of your bio to incorporate some of these points.

Now you are on a roll. Keep going. Blend in the relevant facts and figures about your life.

I’m pretty sure your bio will be a lot more engaging - and a better reflection of you - than the first version you came up with.