This is the third post in a series on getting started as a conference speaker. This post focuses on how to write your speaker bio.
Now that you have a strong, informative abstract, you are almost ready to start applying to speak at conferences and submitting your CFP. But almost every conference is going to ask you for a speaker bio. Rather than try to come up with that on the spot in the last 30 minutes before the application closes (because we all procrastinate at some point right? 😉), let’s take some time and write that out beforehand.
A good speaker bio is also short, only 3-4 sentences. Think of it as your own personal abstract. Your bio should answer
- Who are you?
- What qualifies you to give this talk? What perspective do you have?
- What is something fun for them to remember you by? What is something they can chat with you about at mealtimes?
We all feel pressure when writing our bios to tell people why we’re amazing and list our accomplishments. But I don’t think that’s the best use of this space. The speaker bio helps your audience understand your perspective and decide if they think you’ll have something unique and interesting to say on the topic. A list of awards isn’t as memorable as someone sharing why they are uniquely qualified to talk to a room of strangers about their topic.
Including something fun and interesting about yourself at the end often sets you apart from other speakers. It gives shy or nervous attendees an easy opener if they see you at the conference. As a speaker, many people will want to chat with you and hear more about what you have to say. An interesting line about spinning your own yarn (from one of my bio’s) or watching Star Trek (from a friend’s) can be the perfect little nugget to bond over and start a larger conversation.
Writing about yourself feels weird, especially in the third person. Find a friend to read your new bio and give you feedback. Friends are usually better at telling us why we're awesome than we are anyway 😉
And don't be afraid to sell yourself as the amazing speaker you are, that's the point of this exercise. You have a unique perspective, you're going to put in the work to make a valuable talk, and gosh-darn-it people will learn a lot from you!