The 8 Sentence Bio Framework We Teach Our Clients

Here at Human at the Helm, we're not big on templates. Messages get watered down, strategies fail and clients/potential clients disconnect when brands rely on cookie cutter templates to engage with their people.

That said, we make an exception for bios. After drafting, editing and reviewing hundreds of executive bios over the last decade, I've created a framework that not only ticks all the important boxes a bio needs to tick (especially for our PR-related purposes) but that's built to help you emphasize your uniqueness and bring you closer to the people who read it—not further away.

If your bio needs a re-do, here's our suggested approach:

Right out of the gate, you want people to understand three things:

  • Who are you?
  • Who do you help?
  • What do you help them do?

Above anything else, this first sentence needs to be clear. If anyone reads this sentence and still feels confused about who you are, who you help and how you help them, they're going to spend the rest of the bio distractedly trying to figure that out. You want to lay a strong, clear foundation that you can use the rest of the bio to build off of. 

So first sentence should read "I am a ____ who helps _____  to _______. "

Now that people are clear about what you do, you want to share your mission and/or purpose that drives why you do what you do.

This is your most important message.When you stick to regurgitating a laundry list of accomplishments and past roles, you're not giving people anything to sink their teeth into. They're going to connect with you as much as they'd connect with a couch they've been eyeing: moderately interesting, looks higher quality than the last one, may or may not work with my new dining room table. They'll decide whether they want to buy your products from that same, detached place.

But share what drives why you to do what you do, and you're not some vague brand with a vague product they could kinda care less about (no offense, but true). Instead, they emotionally connect to that driving motivation because they can seem themselves in it. They might share a similar motivation, or have had an experience that's sounds a lot like yours, or be able to empathize with what got you here in the first place.

Through that bridge, they have something they can emotionally connect to. (For more on the importance of your "why" story, check out Simon Sinek's book Start With Why.)

We suggest beginning this sentence with I/We Believe ________________ and then using that prompt to communicate what drives your business.

Now that the people you most want to get in front of feel connected to you, you want to showcase your credibility. Like I said above, most bios include a list of past titles and companies which, while impressive, can read a bit like a resume. We encourage our clients to not only list their past roles, but weave in credentials and major accomplishments.

Here a few prompts:

has landed...
is certified in...
has extensive experience as...
been featured in (/on)...

is known for...

This last sentence is entirely up to you. If you want to include a bit more about yourself—like where you live, your kids, your Games of Thrones obsession—this is where you do it.

My suggestion, if you decide to include this last piece, is to try to include something about yourself that someone on the other end would find intriguing. For example, Silvia talks about how she's a third generation entrepreneur on both sides. So interesting!

If nothing comes to you or you want to buy yourself some time to think about it, feel free to skip this sentence. (Full transparency, I don't include one on mine). 

This template was created to help you draft a great bio and make sure it hits all the right notes. Once you've got a first draft down, it's yours to customize. Add a sentence if there's something outside of this framework you definitely want to include. Turn the "I believe" sentence into two if you've got more to share. Most importantly, make sure it sounds like you. 

Got questions? Send them over. Email is I read and answer every one. 

Alex Honeysett