Your guest speakers contribute to the draw of your event, especially at virtual events where mingling and networking often become secondary. Knowing how to write a bio for a speaker is an essential part of your marketing plan. Impactful bios capture the reader’s attention by going beyond the basic facts and recent projects, which are standard in any guest speaker bio template.
Here are a few tips with examples to help craft a fantastic bio for your event speakers. Feature your speaker bios in an email, on your event’s webpage, or in your marketing materials.
(If you’re wondering how to write a speaker bio for yourself, these tips work just as well. Always use the third person, and have someone else read over the bio for an outsider’s perspective.)
1. Start with the speaker bio basics
Your speaker’s education and experience should be clear in the bio. Depending on the tone of your event, add colour or play it straight with a listing of education and credentials.
At the 2022 Folorunso Alakija Distinguished Lecture on Religion in Africa hosted by the Harvard University Center for African Studies, lecturer J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu’s bio first described his position before including additional experience:
“Baëta-Grau Professor of Contemporary African Christianity and Pentecostal/Charismatic Theology and President of the Trinity Theological Seminary, Accra, Ghana. He has served as visiting scholar at Harvard University; Luther Seminary, Minnesota; Overseas Ministries Study Centre, Princeton Theological Seminary; Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky, USA (2015); and Yonsei International University in Songdo, South Korea (2016).”
In contrast, at the Photographic Resource Centre’s Speaker Series in nearby Brookline, Massachusetts, the bio focuses less on academics than on what’s relevant to the speaker’s presentation:
“Claire Beckett’s series, Simulating Iraq, was created from 2006-2017 when she embedded herself on military bases within the United States, photographing the depiction of Arabs and Muslims within the context of counterinsurgency training for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Features of these training environments included costumed role-players, elaborate Hollywood-inspired sets, and staged tableaus hinting at the imagined lives of far-away people.”
2. Highlight your guest speaker’s accomplishments
Any speaker introduction bio should include professional awards or accolades. The trick is to frame them to reflect your speaker as a subject matter expert. If bio space is limited, highlight the achievements that relate most closely to your event’s themes and topics, but also pair them with interesting biographical tidbits that can set your speaker apart.
At Samy’s Camera and CinemaWorks‘ “Beauty and the Art of Posing” workshop in Los Angeles, featured speaker Tracie Maglosky’s bio reads:
“Tracie Maglosky is an award-winning portrait photographer, photography educator and mentor. Profoto Legend of Light & Miller’s Speaker Team Member. She is a studio owner in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a primary focus on portraiture. Her creative concepts and vibrant style have earned her features in major publications such as Professional Photographer, Shutterbug, Rangefinder, Digital Photo Pro, Click, and many more.”
This speaker bio example starts by listing her profession and colours it with “award-winning.” It then mentions “features in major publications,” adding authority and interest.
3. Share a unique perspective
While guest speakers often supply their bios, consider them a jumping-off point. Insert your speaker’s personality and perspective into the bio if they haven’t already. It must be professional and clear but also give insight into who your speaker is.
For Glasgow International LLC’s “Deeper Than Motivation Experience with Jovan Glasgow” in Dallas, Glasgow’s bio begins straightforwardly with history and experience, then adds colour by touting his reputation and mentioning his popularity.
“Jovan Glasgow is an entrepreneur, professional keynote speaker, leadership coach, and author. As one of this generation’s most dynamic minds, Jovan delivers personal and professional development programs designed to educate, enrich, and empower. In addition to being ranked 2nd in Yahoo Finance’s Top 10 Motivational Speakers to watch and ChoicePoint’s Top 30 speakers globally, he is also famous for his soul-awakening social media videos that have amassed millions of views worldwide.”
4. Cater to your audience
Know who will be reading your speaker’s bio and make adjustments based on what might intrigue them. Think of yourself as a matchmaker, connecting your speaker to your audience. If your speaker has a personal story or anecdote that’s relevant to what you’re discussing, allude to it in the bio to pique interest and build anticipation.
At the Naperville Business Network’s November meetup near Chicago, the bio for speaker Mario Lambert put the emphasis first on positivity and philosophy before mentioning credentials. This approach can work well for a group focused on improving business skills and connections.
“Mario Lambert believes that everyone has potential to be amazing…and that a healthy culture can inspire people to be at their best. He helps people and organisations get ‘unstuck’ and accelerate toward high performance. His facilitation style is to create high-trust environments, clarity and alignment to a worthy mission, and united rigor towards positive results.
“Mario Lambert is the Director of Strategic Sales & Partnerships at Populus Group, helping companies with workforce solutions. Also as an independent consultant, he helps people and businesses realise growth through strategic planning, leadership development, and execution.”
5. Keep it brief
Keep length in mind when drafting or revising your guest speaker’s bio. Include enough information to capture interest but leave readers wanting more. Keep it between 100 and 200 words, and you’ll be golden. The bio should offer a glimpse of your guest speaker’s background and expertise — provide a link to your event website or their portfolio in case people want to learn more.
For the Western Washington American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s networking event, “Design of Pressure Vessels,” guest speaker Dr. Maan Jawad’s bio nicely established his authority and personality in a few sentences:
“Dr. Jawad is President of Global Engineering & Technology in Bothell, WA. Previously, and prior to retirement, he was Director of Engineering and member of the Board of Directors at the Nooter Corporation in St. Louis, Mo. Nooter fabricates and field erects pressure vessels for the power generation, petrochemical, and nuclear industries.
“Dr. Jawad is a Fellow of ASME and has served on various technical committees since 1972. He has been involved in the development of various rules for the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel code such as layered vessel rules, buckling of conical shells, toughness rules, half-pipe jackets, creep rules for internal pressure, and buckling rules in the creep regime.
“Dr. Jawad has authored and co-authored numerous books and numerous research publications related to pressure vessels. He has also taught graduate-level engineering courses such as Finite Element Analysis, Theory of Plates and Shells, Plastic Analysis, and Advanced Structural Analysis.”
Write your speaker bios
These guest speaker bio examples and tips highlight how matching the bio to your audience — and keeping it clear and brief — is essential. Establish the speaker’s credibility so the audience understands why their ideas are interesting. And remember to reflect the event’s mood; a playful tone of voice lends itself to light-hearted topics, while a simple description of experience and education is appropriate for serious subjects.
Once you’ve written your speaker bio, explore ways to attract and engage audiences with our complete guide to setting up your event.