People generally feel strange bragging about themselves, but if you've been asked to provide a personal bio or otherwise write about yourself, it's time to put modesty aside and reveal all the great things about you that lead to people asking to know more about you.
Write your bio in the third-person ("Jane Franklin is a best-selling author" as opposed to "I am a best-selling author"). Using third-person gives your bio more credibility and reads less like a bragging session.
Match the Requirements
The person or organization will likely give you an idea of what they're looking for with regard to your piece, and if not, ask for clarification. Craft your piece to match what your bio will be used for; if it's for conference attendees to review before your presentation, write it in a way that explains what gives you the credibility to make the presentation. What do people need to know about you in order to trust what you say?
Short Website Bio
If the bio is for your own website, approach it in a similar fashion. What do people need to know about you in order to trust that you know what you're talking about?
Things to include in your bio:
- Your full name and any professional or academic designations (examples: M.D., Ph.D., licensed Zumba instructor, or whatever else lends to your credibility)
- Where you originally come from and where you are now
- How long you have been doing what you do
- Brief insight into you as a person outside of your accomplishments
Sample Website Bio
Jane Franklin is a mother of two and the author of How to Raise Two Kids Without Losing Your Mind (link to published books or websites). Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, she now lives in the Mojave Desert where she has facilitated "The Excellent Mothers Commune" for more than 15 years. She's the recipient of the 2012 Mom Award from Mojave Mom Magazine and the 2017 Mojave Best Commune Facilitator Award. In her spare time she enjoys star gazing and spending time with her children.
Balance the Accomplishments
Your bio is not the place to be modest, but it's also important to not make it a conceited list of accomplishments. Pepper your bio with personality and some fun facts to humanize yourself right alongside the things that make you so fantastic and credible.
When your bio is for professional use, such as for a company website, the focus should be more on your professional accomplishments, certifications, and education and is not the time to be snarky or quirky (unless that's the culture of the company for which you work). The bio should center on your role within the company and why you belong in that position. It's likely your supervisor will have a template for you to follow. If so, use it as a guideline and then make it your own.
Personal essays should be written in first-person and should tell your story as vividly as possible. The essay might center on a particular moment in your life that changed you or otherwise formed who you are today. Write in your own voice and keep it short - around three to five pages if possible.
Speeches About You
You never want to refer to yourself in the third person within a speech - it sounds strange to your audience and isn't natural. When writing about yourself for a speech, it's important to speak every word out loud as you write to ensure it sounds natural. While some people feel comfortable speaking the words as they type, some will wait until the speech is written and then read it to make sure it sounds right spoken. If it sounds too stuffy or heavily scripted, it needs to be revised.
Make It Conversational
A speech about yourself should be conversational even if it's a professional speech. Strive to write the words in a natural speaking cadence so you'll be more comfortable speaking it - and your audience will feel more comfortable listening to you. Use a tip from acting pros and write prompts for voice fluctuation or movement into your script to make you more comfortable and get your point across more easily. Use your natural speech patterns and use words you typically use in conversation. Identify with your audience and introduce your credentials early in the speech.
When Mr. Smith asked me to come give a talk about parenting, I'll admit to you that my first thought was the same thought many other parents have (whisper, intimating): "I don't know anything about raising kids!" Anyone else? (raise hand in admission) Who here feels like they don't know what they're doing while raising kids?
So now you're probably thinking, "Oh, great. They brought a parenting expert in who doesn't know what she's doing." But what I'm trying to do is put you at ease that no parents ever feel like they know what they're doing. Even parenting experts like me who spent countless years in academia and who run successful, award-winning parenting organizations and who are frequently quoted within the media as "experts" sometimes scratch our heads when our kids act up. You're not alone, parents. We're all a little confused.
But let me tell you what I do know: when children are treated with respect and know that they are loved, they will respond in kind. In fact, let me tell you about some interesting research I conducted regarding kids who are loved and respected.
Your cover letter should be written from the first-person perspective. There are no iron-clad cover letter rules to follow when writing about yourself in a cover letter except to ensure the best of you shines through. Stick to attributes that pertain to the role for which you're submitting the letter while also revealing some of your personality. The letter should be specific to the role, so one formatted cover letter sent to every potential employer will lose its impact, no matter how good a job you do of making yourself sound great.
The letter should not all be, "ME, ME, ME!" but instead more along the lines of, "Me + Your Organization = A Great Team."
LoveToKnow offers a sample cover letter to follow as a good starting point. When you're composing your personalized cover letter, do the same as you would when writing a speech and read it out loud to make sure it doesn't sound arrogant or apologetic.
Sing your own praises, but don't make it a bland list of your accomplishments. Write about yourself in a way that will make someone want to meet you.
Abridged Sample Cover Letter Text
I'm responding to the ad you placed on the billboard at Java Joe's looking for parenting mentors. I'm an award-winning parenting consultant and mother of two, and my published research has been heralded as ground-breaking by both the Parenting Institute and the Association of Parents. I understand you're looking for mentors who have both academic credentials alongside real-world experience - I offer both. My prior experience as a parenting mentor for Quality Parenting, Inc. was incredibly rewarding and I'm ready to throw my hat back into the ring.
In order to write about yourself you have to be confident in yourself, otherwise your writing will sound apologetic and unsure. While writing, keep your best aspects in mind and don't be afraid to promote yourself.