Company Bios: A fine line, every time.

Scott Watson

Scott Watson

Writing employee biographies can be tedious, time-consuming and redundant. Use these tips on effective bio writing to keep yours from sounding like a book of tall tales, and give clients what they want – a directory of real people with real skills, eager to help.

Short and sweet.

There’s nothing more annoying than reading the same sentence with different words. Getting to the end and realizing it’s just a reworded mirror of the sentence before is frustrating. The only thing more maddening is a whole paragraph of these repetitions.

If you’re still with me, you get the point.

If experience is available, use it. Use employment history and tie like themes together, showing patterns of growth and specialization. When there’s no history to speak of, talk about what they do have: skill and drive.

Show, don’t tell.

Nothing discredits a bio faster than exaggerated claims. Words like ‘best’ and ‘genius’ are as convincing as a heal-all elixir sold from the trunk of an Altima.

Experience speaks for itself. Too many adjectives or exaggerations make a bio start smelling … bad. If you can’t talk about prior experiences, explain what it was about them that won you over. And describe their role at your company.

Be friendly.

A friendly, casual tone is sometimes mistaken for a lack of professionalism. But at its best, a casual tone enhances understanding, increases relatability and gushes confidence. Still, many professional industries are filled with technical jargon and mistakenly use it to qualify effective communication.

No one wants to read something that sounds like an instruction manual, and no one wants to be sold to. People want to be given plain truths, then left alone to make their own decision. So be straightforward and say what you mean in layman’s terms. As famed advertising guru Luke Sullivan once said, “If content is king, conversation is queen.”

Proofread again.

Nothing says minor leagues like fundamental errors. Typos and poor writing scream amateur. Make sure whatever you’re putting up for the world to see is accurate, clear and polished. And don’t be afraid to speak in fragmented sentences. But do it smartly.

Have the bio fact-checked by the person it’s written about. Then have it proofread – by someone other than the writer. Edit equally for grammar and readability. If one person finds a line confusing, someone else will too. Make the edits. Then proofread it again.

Put in time.

Writing a bio always takes more time than you’d think it should. And that’s okay. If it’s written in 30 minutes, it will sound like it. Try combining different phrases with new ideas until you hit that sweet spot where conversation reflects content, and you’ve painted an accurate picture of this person and the value of their work.

The secret to writing great employee bios is to be thorough without exaggerating. Professional, yet casual. And informative. Not dry. It may sound like a small target to hit, but give it a shot. Start with basic ideas, then simplify and edit, edit, edit until you get it there.

— Scott Watson, copywriter

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