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How to Write a Good (Funny, Short) Bio in Under 10 Minutes
Most people would rather spend 3 hours in a dentist’s chair than spend 30 minutes writing a bio. I get it. But what if there was a secret shortcut that not only makes the process easier and faster, but actually makes your bio smart, witty and totally you?
In more than two decades as a professional journalist, I have come to loathe and fear the bio. The only thing more painful than writing one is reading one of the millions of dry, boring looooong bios that people tack onto the bottom of press releases or seminar announcements.
Look, I get it. I LOVE writing and even I find bios tricky. It’s not easy conveying both the breadth of your professional expertise and education, as well as a little bit of your actual personality.
At least it wasn’t easy. Till I discovered this…
Geeta wants to live in a world filled with innovative businesses, books that come bundled with extra dark chocolate and a force field around her keyboard that repels cats and sticky-fingered toddlers.
As a journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she’s worked for the CBC, CNN, Reader’s Digest, the Montreal Gazette, Asia Pacific Broadcasting (and more) producing print, TV, radio and new media. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com. She was voted “Best TV Personality” by the readers of the Montreal Mirror and has been featured in the Montreal Book of Everything.
When she’s not writing or creating courses to help small business owners get better media coverage, you can find her whipping up a delicious gluten-free treat, running barefoot or answering the question “why” for the eleventy-bajillionth time.
Her first book, working title “Baby Got Booked: Learn to Speak in Sound Bytes, Write a Killer Press Release, Woo Journalists and Become A Media Magnet” is slated for release this fall.
Get (free) practical, doable tips on how to tell your story in a way that makes people (and the press) want to listen at geetanadkarni.com
See? Easy peasy lemon squeezy! That actually took me 12 minutes to write (the extra two minutes were caused by the fact that no one has invented that force field yet).
Now it’s your turn.
Here’s a link to an awesome resource we have inside the Baby Got Booked Lab. You can have access to a course inside the Lab for a $1(with some extra tips for how to make it more mediagenic, so you can include it in any email pitch you send to a journalist!)
But Geeta, you say, I work in a super stuffy, uber-serious industry where I can’t talk about barefoot running and anything vaguely fun. Super important people will be reading my bio and I don’t want to come off sounding like a flake.
I hear you.
But here’s the thing: having worked in the media and rubbed shoulders with some seriously “important” people (like George Strombolopoulos *sigh*, Stephen Huddart, the CEO of the McConnell Foundation, billionaire Jesse Itzler), I can tell you that even seriously important people are human (and actually all three of the examples I gave you are incredibly warm and down to earth).
They are, just like the rest of us, looking to connect as human beings. And everybody loves a little humour. ESPECIALLY the super important types that most people treat with kid gloves.
As for the flake factor, I think paragraph 2 (where you talk about your past awards, credentials, etc) helps set you up as an authority in your field. No one is suggesting you only write about your hobbies. The beauty of this template is that it touches on the three aspects that most employers would want intel on:
- Your aspirations and goals as a human being
- Your experience, education and credentials
- Your unique quirks and the softer side of your personality
Plus, you’re showing that, though you take your work seriously, you’re able to have a sense of humour about things. And that you have enough confidence that you’re not afraid to be a little different.
Doesn’t that describe someone you want to work with? I know it does for me!
Ideas for where to use this bio and how to tweak it for special occasions
Having a template takes away the biggest cause of resistance when it comes to writing (yes, even for us writer-types): the fear of the blank page. Which means that you can always return to this template in the future when you’re crafting a press release around your latest launch or giving a talk to a roomful of board members. And frankly, at that point, it will only take you 5 minutes because most of what you need to say has been filled in already.
So here are some additional tips on REALLY making your bio sing:
Customize the aspirations: Line up your aspirations with those of the folks your targeting. I’m not recommending you lie or be fake (yuck). Instead, just make sure (as you would in a face-to-face meeting) to bring front and centre the things that will most resonate with your crowd. This is a tip more for a bio destined to be read in the context of a seminar, talk, book blurb.
Customize the education/work experience: Just as you would with a CV, tweak what you include in the work section to only include what’s actually relevant to your audience. Don’t bore them with summer internships in a different industry.
Beef up the bits that need it: You know your industry best, so maybe you might need to add a few details. That’s fine, as long as you remember that this is your bio, not your CV. This is your Best Of album, not your Discography. Leave people hungry for more.
Include an amazing photo: Yes, investing in good headshots is worth every penny. And I’m not saying this because I’m married to a pro photographer. Think about all the times you’ve read an amazing bio and then squinted at the blurry, green-toned, adds-15-lbs mug shot of the person it described? Doesn’t it kinda dampen your enthusiasm and admiration for them? NOT because of the way they look, but because they clearly didn’t make the effort.
You’ve taken the trouble to write an amazing, funny, personal bio that draws people in and makes them want to get to know you better. Don’t then slap them in the face with an ugly photo.
Okay, you made it this far. I want you to promise me one thing: you’re going to rewrite your boring bio. DON’T put it off (unless you are putting in a 15 minute appointment with yourself in your agenda specifically for this). Do it.
I promise you you’ll be thrilled the next time someone asks you to send them a “quick 2 paragraph bio”.
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