I've been updating my conference details recently, in order to submit my talks for php|tek in Chicago (the call for papers closes on Monday - get your submissions in!). One thing which I struggled with is my biography, I used to have a paragraph which sort of said "Lorna is a PHP Developer and involved with PHPWomen", and I used that same entry for every conference for a year or more. However, just like speaker photos, biographies do date. I've taken on more responsibilities at work and I've been doing more things in the community as well so it was time for a refresh.
I'm quite happy with my new bio:
Lorna Jane Mitchell is a senior developer who speaks, writes and blogs on a variety of technical topics. At Ibuildings she runs the PHP Academy, meaning she's involved in managing and coaching trainers, hosting seminars and conferences, building a training programme and representing Ibuildings within the PHP community. Lorna is the Editor-in-Chief at Ibuildings techPortal and blogs regularly at lornajane.net. In her spare time she is the European Representative of PHPWomen and is an organiser of the PHPNW user group and conference.
Getting This Far
To get to this point, I started with a list of things I should include. My job, my blog, my community activity, my technical interests. There's definitely scope for including unexpected information here, I'm seriously thinking of adding my knitting hobby into this paragraph!
I then turned my points into sentences, and emailed the result to a few people to read. Even if you're secretly hoping someone else will write your bio for you, its often easier for them to criticise something you have written than to start from scratch themselves. I always take this approach even when I know I'm probably making a hash of it, if I'm asking for someone's input, I take the time to attempt it myself and send them the result. I'm enormously grateful to everyone who has reviewed my biographies and talk proposals, and I'm always happy to do the same for others when I can find the time.
Proofreaders can pick up spelling mistakes and help you put your best foot forward, it might be embarrassing to write about yourself but is it more or less embarrassing than having a lame biography printed in a conference programme?