With more formal presentation opportunities the organisers will sometimes ask you to send in a bio – a short description of you and your career. This can be included in the conference literature and provides the chairman of the conference session a few words to use as an introduction. – often it is used as a filler as you move to the stage for your big event.
If read out the audience will be listening, even if they know you, as it provides a window to who you are and what you have been doing. Take a little time over writing our bio it will help the presentation get off to a good start, provide a talking point for conversation afterwards and help the audience create a link with you – ‘I worked at blogs Ltd, I wonder if he worked with Mary’.
I find it best to:
- Keep it to one or two paragraphs, often you will be given guidance to the number of words, if in doubt ask the conference organiser
- Run through your career in a few steps – education, first company/role, current role – job titles are often not very descriptive so don’t just list out 5 job titles.
- Add something, if you feel comfortable, about you. For example, where you live, your family, hobbies and aspirations. This part of the bio can be a good leveller as it doesn’t matter whether you are at the beginning of your career or finishing a hearty career with several commendations from the head of the Government.
- Also good to add something about work type activities that are not directly related to your full time work position. School governor, treasurer of the local badminton team, writing a book on how to ride a bicycle, etc.
Given all of the above you will probably be best to keep it to less than 200 words. Longer than this and it may not fit into a pre-conference papers, will not be read out in full and if it is read out, will soon start to sound like ostentatious self promotion or a pre-curser to a bloated presentation. Remember, ‘less is more’.
Last, you can include your bio at the front or back of any handout or emailed presentation along with your contact details. This is particularly helpful if you are a consultant, looking for a new position or a future speaker slot, as it acts as a mini CV.