A Shorthand Guide
A CEO once questioned my suggestion that she prepare bios for each board member and department head in her start-up international company. I never heard from her after submitting this tongue-in-cheek laundry list addressing the issue. I've always wondered which of the reasons for avoiding executive bios concerned her...
REASONS FOR HAVING A STRONG BIOGRAPHY
~ Potential clients are knocking on your door.
~ Potential investors are analyzing your organization.
~ A financial lender has requested a business plan.
~ A member of the national media wants to interview you.
~ Eventually you will need to complete that business plan you once started.
~Clients are comparing you to a competitor recently featured in the media.
~ You will become successful, and people unknown to you now will want to know about you, so you had better start checking the facts you've already forgotten.
REASONS TO AVOID HAVING A BIO
~ Your name is never misspelled; you're never misquoted.
~ Statistics cited about your business are never wrong.
~ You have no competition; clients never ask about your management.
~ You see no need to disclose information to potential investors.
~ Despite their talent, key employees have weak education, training, or experience.
~ You don't need to impress anyone, and don't care about any gossip afloat.
WHEN WILL YOU SEEK AN EMPOWERING BIO?
~ When you have just been introduced incorrectly?
~ When incorrect data are published and widely distributed?
~ When your sales team needs to proclaim your superiority?
~ When the gap in Management Team in your business plan is noticed?
WHAT CONSTITUTES A STRONG BIO?
Whether you are preparing to deliver a single compound-sentence self-introduction, or provide a page-long entry to a professional publication, consider the bios of your peers. What have you enjoyed? What bored you? What makes you curious about the subject? Does one aspect remain memorable, positively? Whether you do the work yourself, or hire a wordsmith, you need to analyze the results in both print and oral presentation. So, listen to yourself read it aloud and then have someone read it to you. Consider including the following desirable elements:
~ Industry-appropriate words that don't leave your audience questioning jargon.
~ Warmth, even humor, without self-deprecation.
~ Short, clear sentences. Strong verb clauses that don't rely on "very" and "really."
~ Highlight of a unique quality and/or pertinent skill.
~ Mention of an outstanding award or special recognition.
Perhaps you are not in business.
Nevertheless, you may find it is useful to have a bio at the ready!
~ You might need an introduction for a gathering of friends or colleagues.
~ Your industry or community may wish to honor your career or volunteerism.
~ Eventually, your family and friends will need to prepare your eulogy.
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