Reframing your biography

How many times have you had to sit through someone reading a biography of a speaker or be on the receiving end of someone’s so-called “30-second commercial” with the thought of “why do I care?”

Many well tell you that most people probably do not care where you went to school, how many fancy titles you have had, whether you worked for a Fortune 100 company, or whether you and others think you are brilliant.

Given this reality, when writing or speaking your bio, you may want to consider an approach that focuses on what might be relevant to the listener.

Try answering the following questions:

  • What types of problems do you solve?
  • For who?
  • How did you solve these problems?
    1. What is different about your approach, and how does the client benefit?
  • What favorable outcome do your clients generally achieve because of you?

The answers to all these questions should not take 30 seconds. That is too much time to ask from a listener. Try a couple of concise sentences and stick around the 20-second mark. Much longer and you will lose people.

Here are a couple of examples of reframing your written and oral biography to address these points.

Example 1:
I work with Fortune 100 companies who are constantly audited by the IRS and find they are using lots of in-house counsel time dealing with tax matters as opposed to other major issues affecting the company’s day-to-day operations. Having worked at the IRS and being a CPA as well as an attorney, I speak the agency’s language and generally resolve these audits quickly and favorably without expensive and time-consuming litigation.

Example 2:
I work with Fortune 500 companies whose business practices have been challenged as unfair to consumers by the Federal Trade Commission and who find that they have difficulty managing the negative press associated with these challenges, especially when protracted. Having been the Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, my understanding of the FTC’s mindset and deep knowledge of consumer law, helps ensure swift resolution of these matters that maximize their ability to achieve their long-term business goals without too much downtime.

So the pattern is:
I work with _______ [type of client] who have ________ [type of problem] and find _________ [that limits them in this way]. Because I bring ________ [experience handling these matters successfully, worked on the other side, etc.], I help the client _________ [solve the problem] and they are able to ________ [achieve a certain business objective] _________ [without too much pain].

Image courtesy of StuartMiles at