011 Why You Need to Write a Perfect Speaker Bio (and How to Do It)

011 Why You Need to Write a Perfect Speaker Bio (and How to Do It)

Listen Now

Your bio sets the tone to your opening, and sometimes determines how the audience will listen to you. Learn the proven formula for the perfect speaker bio.

Topics covered:

  • Your bio is part of your brand – how to write it;
  • What to include in your speaker bio;
  • How to prep your presenter to introduce you well.

00:01: Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. I am Michael and this is a quick tip on how to write the perfect bio and prep your presenter, ’cause you know most bios suck and your’s might too. But we’ll fix that, so no worries. Everything I do in this podcast is based on “Steal the Show,” the book. You can learn more about Steal the Show at www.stealtheshow.com. That’s stealtheshow.com, you can pick up a copy of the book there. And I’ve got lots of bonuses for you at stealtheshow.com. Free templates on how to create content, free templates on how to tell stories, I’ve got video courses for you, aversion courses for you, live event tickets for you, and they all come with the book when you buy one, two, three, four, five. You gotta buy a few copies for some of the bigger ones. We’re giving up to $84,000 worth of free bonuses. Yeah, that’s $84,000 worth of free bonuses. Basically, you know the way it works? When you wanna promote a book, you gotta give away the farm, so we’re giving away the farm. You want one copy, you’ll get a bunch of stuff, you want 10 copies, you’ll get more and so on.

01:07 Here’s the deal. Bios are incredibly boring, they just go on for so long. And the importance of your bio and prepping your presenter cannot be over emphasized. So do not underestimate the importance of your bio. And listen, the bio on paper is very different than the bio that is spoken. Now, there are many instances where your professional bio isn’t relevant to the speech, so a wedding toast, a speech to other survivors of an illness, et cetera, but in a professional setting your bio sets the tone for your introduction and in some ways it determines how people will respond to you.

01:56 So put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Are you an expert worth listening to? Are you interesting? An effective bio is short but powerful. It doesn’t need to include your philosophy on a topic. That is something you communicate to the audience during your presentation. Now, your bio should make you sound credible and interesting. Don’t use phrases that are not verifiable. For example, I wouldn’t say that I was the best networker in the country. It’s a pompous, general statement that isn’t unverifiable, in fact, it’s kind of ridiculous. However, I might include that Forbes listed me first of 25 professional networking experts to watch in 2015. And that’s a hat tip to John Corcoran, who wrote that article.

02:42 But here’s the thing, I know John. I know the other people who are on that list. They know John too. John is one of the columnists at Forbes. He decided that’s who he’s gonna put on the list, but as a result I get to use it and it is a credibility builder, it is a credibility booster, but it is actual, it is factual, it is real. So you can use it, but saying things like, “America’s Best Sales Coach.” Those kind of things, they just ring false because they’re not verifiable. Now, if you’ve accomplished something rare and impressive, say, you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and maybe you have 10 kids. You tell the audience, just don’t embellish. Tell the truth because you’ll feel more relaxed delivering your presentation and you won’t be worried about being found out.

03:33 Look, you might say, “Well Michael, it’s easier for you to write a bio because you can say the Wall Street Journal called you a marketing guru, The Financial Times called you a sales guru. The Boston Globe said… ” and this is my favorite, said “Michael Port is an uncommonly honest author.” And I’m so proud of that because I think it’s true. But here’s the thing, don’t underestimate your accomplishments. The audience doesn’t need to hear those kinds of big statements. In fact, sometimes those big statements can separate you from the audience. All they need to know is that you know what they need to know or you’ve done what they want to do. That’s very important because you don’t want the audience trying to figure out if they should pay attention to you for the first 15 minutes, you want them with you right away, from the get go. And if they feel that you are credible, that they respect you before you walk on stage, well, that’s gonna put you in the driver’s seat right from the get go. And one of the most important things to prepare is different versions of your bio for different audiences. What’s relevant and impressive to one audience may be immaterial to another. Most people don’t realize how important it is to tailor your bio to your crowd. Generally, shorter is better and it’s more impressive. The more successful you are, the shorter your bio.

05:01 We don’t need to hear a bio read for, say, Bill Clinton. They just introduce him as Bill Clinton. Or how about, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Bill Gates.” We don’t need to be told that he founded Microsoft. Or how about Oprah? “This is Oprah.” That’s all you need. So there’s no need to try too hard. Now obviously… Well, actually, Oprah, maybe you’re listening to this. I hope you’re enjoying it. If you are then please feel free to bring me on your show. But if you’re not, Oprah, you still don’t need to try too hard, let your work speak for itself. But do use the bio in such a way that it ensures the audience finds you credible before you walk on stage, that’s important. So writing the bio is very simple and you can follow this formula. And as you write, focus on what will make you seem credible enough to deliver on your topic.

05:51 So, you start by describing the most significant responsibilities in your current position. And when you’re writing your first draft, include everything you do and then determine what information would be most relevant to your audience and cut the rest. Keep it short, don’t use jargon or lingo, use linguage, language that… Linguage is linguage, language plus lingo? I’m not sure, but anyhow, language that really means something to the people listening. Then, where possible, track your record and your success. The most effective way to do this is to quantify your achievements if possible, and then include other successes, unusual interests, or things that make people go, “Hmm.” For example, telling the audience that you love knitting and walks on the beach isn’t interesting or unusual, you reserve that for a personal ad. However, if there is something exceptional you’ve accomplished such as completing 100,000 puzzles like Jeff Moore, a Book Yourself Solid certified coach, then share it.

06:53 And finally, another underused opening rehearsal tactic is to prep your presenter. Now, this is only relevant, of course, if you’re giving a speech at an event where you’re introduced, but little different than being introduced at a wedding. You say “This is my uncle Bob, Bob’s gonna give a toast.” You don’t need a lot more. “This is my uncle Bob, he works for IBM.” And that’s not necessary. But if it’s a professional setting, you absolutely need to be introduced, and I can’t tell you how many times my bio and even my name have been mangled. A CNN anchor, who shall remain nameless, introduced me to an audience of 4,000 people as Michael Porter, who also happens to be an author. However, he happens to be a famous professor at Harvard. I am not. Instead of my actually name, which is Michael Port, by the way.

07:43 So, my advice is you give the person introducing you exactly what you want him to read. You tell him that he’d like… If he’d like to add something at the end about why he chose you to give a speech at that event, that’s fine. Because what most people don’t realize is that your presentation begins the second the presenter starts reading your bio out loud. You see, this is the point that most people miss. Your bio is such a big part of your brand. And you’re not being demanding when you ask your presenter to rehearse your bio and to follow word-for-word what you’ve written, and you can even explain to him the importance of the good bio, that you’re doing this for the audience so that you can give a better speech, so they are ready to hear what you have to say as soon as you walk on stage. But if they totally screw up the bio and the audience has no idea who you are or what you’re about or what you do, you’re fighting an uphill battle at those points.

08:43 Alright, so listen, here’s the thing, I’ll say in closing, there’s something that I do that I think is quite clever, that people have started doing since I started teaching it, is using slides during the bio. So, what I do is I have a slide deck that I have loaded up before the presentation, and I control it with the remote from backstage or in the house, wherever I am. And while the bio is being read, I advance the slides. And this is one of the reasons you can tell the person who’s introducing you why it needs to be read word-for-word because when it says, Michael Port is a New York Times bestselling author of six books, a picture will come up on the screen with me and six books. And then they’ll say, “A marketing guru called” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all the different things, and you’ll see pictures of those actual quotes, because it really helps to see what the presenter is actually saying. It becomes more believable. People often believe what they see more than what they hear. And then when they talk about the TV shows that I’ve been on or the films that I’ve been in, you actually see screenshots from those particular shows and movies, because they may not realize that I had guest starring roles or recurring roles on these big TV shows. They might think, “Oh, he must have been an extra or something like that.” And they like to see it and it makes a big difference.

10:02 Plus, people don’t really listen when the bio is being read. They’re spending the last few minutes checking their text or their email, but if something pops up on the screen, then they’ll look up. “Oh, something to look at.” We’re just so… We’re drawn like moths to screens, we can’t help it. It’s like sitting in a restaurant and there happens to be a TV screen up the wall, you can’t… It’s almost impossible to not look at it, even if it’s something ridiculous that you’ve no interest in. So, the screen really helps draw their attention. And often, the presenter or the person who’s presenting the bio is not gonna be strong, they’re not gonna be a strong presenter, so this way, you’ve got the screen to back them up. That’s it, make sure you’ve got that bio really well written, so it demonstrates credibility, is relevant to that audience, is short, is to the point, and lets you get on stage, so that the audience knows that you know what they want to know and that you’ve done what they want to do.

11:03 That’s it, this is Michael Port, go pick up a copy of Steal the Show anywhere books are sold. You can get free bonuses at stealtheshow.com. I think you would be crazy not to go there right now and pick it up. And I love you very much, not in a weird way, but I love you for being the big thinker that you are, for standing in the service of others as you stand in the service of your destiny. That’s all. Bye for now.