Effective Speaker Bios and Session Descriptions

Having presented many times and having some sessions rejected I thought I’d share a bit of what I think is important in crafting a solid description and an effective bio.  Each of these can go a long way in helping draw people to your session.

Let’s start with the bio and get the obvious out of the way. Be accurate and don’t over embellish. Listen, nobody is going to check your CV or LinkedIn profile after seeing your Bio but they also don’t want your CV or LinkedIn profile in this space. It’s important to keep it brief and targeted. What to include and not to include?

Do:

  • Identify your relevant work in the area you’re speaking on. Share just the past few years and the nature of the work you’ve done
  • Include any books or papers you’ve authored or other relevant contributions pertinent to your topic
  • Degreed? OK, add your relevant degrees in too

* The word “relevant” was used a lot. Hint, hint.

Don’t:

  • List a bunch of titles you’ve obtained over the years

  • Call yourself the VP of Happiness or Guru of anything. In my opinion, it may be more of a disconnect. Keep it real

  • Share your love of your kids, spouse, dogs and cats. They can stay home this trip.

  • Where you received your degree. It may be prominent but most bios have limited space, use it wisely.

  • Don’t promote. Links and social media profiles, etc probably won’t make it in so may as well set them aside

A good bio should also paint you as a knowledgeable human being without being pompous. People look to speakers to be approachable so try not to be silly or too stuffy. In short your bio should point people back to your session description making connections to your experience and skills not distract or detract from it.

Since it’s really all about the session, Here’s some ideas to improve the always critical session description.

Typically you’ll be granted two paragraphs and 3-5 bulleted objectives.  The first paragraph is your opportunity to “start with the why”.  The problem to be solved. The need. Really – Why should anyone care?  A good “why” makes people want to read what comes next… that being the “what” of course. The second paragraph is where you focus on two “whats”: What people will learn and hopefully be able to do after your session and what you are doing to help them learn it; the activities and/or approaches you will use.

Next comes the objectives. Most thinking of a session description starts here of course. Be sure to make the objectives tangible and of course attainable by stating clearly what someone will learn to do.  I do advise writing these first and then supporting them in the description, which should never just be the same thing in sentence form, this makes you look very lazy. Also, your description should speak to the attendee not to the organizers of the event. Use the description to weave a story of the time you will have together.

Finally, be honest. You won’t know until after but alignment or rather misalignment will snake bite you. Be sure you actually do the things you say you will do and of course DON’T SELL. Many evaluations go south due to people feeling they got robbed of their time and attention as well as being duped by a well veiled sales pitch.

Well, these are some of the things I think matter. What do you think? Do you have additional ideas? Add them here as a comment for the community.

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