I’m often asked to write biographies of key executives for company websites, proposals, and similar uses. And all too often, I’m asked to rewrite them because one of those executives insists they must be drier than August in the desert.

A business bio is a summary of someone’s career and competencies. Even companies that choose to include them on their websites and other marketing materials don’t always realize how important they are and how powerful they can be.

Your team’s bios can accomplish a long list of astounding feats. They can pave the way for sales calls and presentations, making your audience more receptive before you speak your first word. They’re able to create meaningful connections with prospects that are important to you. And they can capture and display your organization’s culture and personality, encouraging the interest of others who are similarly minded.

But bios can’t do any of those things effectively if you choose to make them boring.

Far too many bios are straightforward, serious, and just plain dull. They read like resumes, ticking off responsibilities and experience like a grocery list, offering little insight into the person or the company. I fully grasp that many jobs and positions are intensely serious. Whether you’re a general counsel, a CPA, a production engineer, or a nurse practitioner, the work you do is serious and important.

Even so, I’m willing to wager there’s a lot more to you than your chosen profession. You may draft ironclad contracts by day, but when you gather with friends to watch the big game, you’d never say, “Whereas the party of the first part (hereafter referenced as “point guard”) shall transmit the spherical object (“ball”) to their similarly attired counterpart (“shooting guard”) in such a manner as to effect a measured increase in the collective, cumulative record of offensive activity (“score”).” If you do, I’m sorry about your lack of friends.

What makes a bio compelling? The same thing that’s behind what we call “small talk” — those hesitant, often awkward conversations when we meet someone and want to learn about who they are. Have they always lived here? Where did they attend law school? Why did they choose contract law over something juicier? Do they golf, or fish, or play with trains in their basement? Those questions help us develop insight into other people and shape how we interact with them.

Similarly, people read bios to gain insight into the personalities behind companies. If we have a meeting with the CEO, we’ll look at her bio to get some sense of what she’s like so we’re not walking into the meeting completely cold. And sure, the resume information is helpful, but it doesn’t give a hint about what she’s like. Imagine if that bio were instead written in a way that captured her warm personality and delightful sense of humor.

Non-boring bios even help with recruiting efforts. Prospective candidates look through your website to learn more about the organization and its management team. If all they encounter is resume-like bios, they’ll assume nobody there has a sense of humor. But if they find friendly, lighthearted bios that reflect your working environment, they’re more likely to think they’ll fit in.

I’m convinced that what keeps most companies from developing bios that are more interesting and personal is that people embarrass more easily and are less confident than they’ll ever admit. “If I share something about myself, people might laugh at me” is just those middle-school anxieties about not being one of the cool kids coming back to haunt you.

Ideally, bios should sound just like the people they’re written about. Reading an interesting bio feels like I’m meeting that person and truly want to get to know them better. When we do meet, I often ask questions straight out of the bio. “So how did you go from majoring in Athletic Training to entering IU Law?” And do you know what always happens? They break into smiles and tell me their stories. People are proud of what brought them to their current place in life, and when someone shows an interest, their egos get a healthy boost.

That’s why including information about personal lives, such as hobbies and interests, can be so powerful. Finally, a livelier bio can also steer the wrong kinds of people away from you. If someone thinks my skill as a writer is diminished by my tendency to play with trains in my basement, I probably don’t want to work with them. Or invite them to join me some evening.

Scott Flood creates effective copy for companies and other organizations.

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