Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to write a more punchy speaker or author bio

Is there anything more cringe-worthy than writing a bio?

Yes, actually: hearing one that you've written read out loud as you're being introduced as a speaker!

So whenever I come across a clever (and mercifully short) bio, I take note. I look for clues about how to communicate better without the cringe.

So imagine my joy when I came across a loooooong page of clever bios. And what makes them even more impressive (or potentially depressing if I think about it too much) is that they're written largely by teenage girls!

I'm talking about the bios at Rookie Mag, a site for teenage girls that I learned about when I saw the 17 year old founder was coming out to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

A few of my faves:

Tavi Gevinson is the editor-in-chief and founder of this site. She is 16 and lives under your bed, so she can eavesdrop on teenage girls and then report back to Rookie’s advertisers and the Walt Disney Corporation with her findings.

Stephanie Kuehnert got her start writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades in eighth grade. In high school, she moved on to punk rock and feminist zines. She’s published two young adult novels, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia, and is at work on another.  

Ragini Nag Rao lives in Calcutta and writes pretty much anything for a living. She loves dogs, baking, and fashion and considers herself a cyborg because of the ancient iPhone attached permanently to her hand. She occasionally blogs about fashion and feminism at A Curious Fancy.

Gabby Noone is an 18-year-old college student in NYC. When she’s not busy writing to support her glamorous waitressing career, you can catch her tweeting, embroidering, blogging, or definitely not reading Food Network fan fiction.

So I know this sort of irreverant style isn't always suitable, but let's look at what makes these work:


- They communicate their skill or experience
- They reveal something personal so you get a sense of why they are
- They are actually interesting and fun to read
- They do all this in no more than three sentences

So there's inspiration here people!

PS. Why am I talking about bio writing on a marketing blog? Getting out there as a presenter or writer is a great "zero budget marketing" tool.

2 comments:

Rah Gard said...

Food Network fan fiction, haha!

I have on my busines card "I also have a mild stationery obsession". The look on the face of those reading it is classic! I'm working on getting that same magic on my online bio... time to pick up some tips from the teenagers! Thanks for a great post :)

Kimberly Palmer said...

Oh, I have more than a mild stationery obsession, love that it's on your card!