“Thank you for that most kind, warm and generous introduction,” said Ken Merrifield, Mayor of the City of Franklin, New Hampshire, smiling generously at the moderator. Then looking back out to the audience he deadpanned, “which I probably wrote myself…”
Merrifield, was speaking at the Public Engagement Conference put on by The Strategy Institute. His quip caught my ear because it was refreshingly honest and a sign of the times.
Most bios and intro’s leave people cold:
We’ve all been complicit in a great big lie, every bit as longstanding as Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.
We write our own introductions but pretend we haven’t. And even if we didn’t write them, we read them, revise them and then approve them.Same goes for bios.
So what’s with the stuffy third person nonsense?
It’s a bit like someone who bought her own gift feigning surprise when she opens it. “For me? Oh, you shouldn’t have.”
The good news is, it’s changing:
3rd person faux-formal is on the way out as customers, donors, media and various other publics increasingly prefer the honesty of first person.
More authentic brands are stepping up and embracing their humanity with the first person bios, clearly stating their values and offering other moments of connection in first person blogs and stories.
There are thousands of examples, but I like the simplicity and honesty of Buffer in its approach to its corporate PR.
In fact, that’s their relaxed corporate shot you’re looking at just to the left and at the top of this article.
Your bio also shouldn’t just be your accomplishments.It should give some insight into your personality, perhaps even some of your previous struggles and eureka moments that lead you to this point.
Be-gone, humble brag:
It should avoid the “humble brag” named for the old “I am humbled by this award…” line we’ve all used at one time or another.
It should be real.
Unless your bio is a complete surprise to you (and if it is, you should probably make friends with your communications department), own it. It’s yours. It’s your voice out in the world.
The case for first person:
Yes, plenty of people, including influencers, will tell you to write in the third person.
And you certainly can.
But ask yourself two questions:
1. Which offers you a greater opportunity to connect with the reader?
2. As we increasingly look for more human connection in business, where do you think the bio will go?
Me, I’d rather be where business is going, not where it was.
Hey, while we’ve got you, got any great examples of bios or intros done really well? Leave a comment below or contact us and let us know.