Biographies are awkward

Every time I am asked to provide a bio before speaking at an event I find it awkward. Why? Biographies just seem like rampant self-promotion and do not sit well with me.

I tend to try to keep it down to the minimum, but on the other hand, if people are using this as a reference point, it makes sense to provide some info, so probably striking a good balance is what it is about: yes, I am busy and involved in multiple projects. So does it make sense to deny these by not listing them when asked to describe what I do? Probably not.

My problem is that you do come across some horrifically bloated bios, where everything down to high-school grades are quoted, which, frankly, in a professional context does not add much depth.

Wearing too many hats do not make one look any cleverer, in my opinion…

So ultimately – as I stated above – it is about finding a good balance: It is reasonable to give people an idea of what kind of work you have done and projects you were involved in, however the dose makes the poison – do not overdo it… sometimes I am tempted to drop in “Mark can clip his own toe nails” (which I can do, by the way), just to see if people are actually paying attention.

For a while I had a short introductory bio I used to run at the beginning of classes, but have stopped using it since, as I feel it creates a hierarchy that does not aid communication but rather creates unnecessary walls. I am very aware that in your average class there are people with all sorts of skills and abilities. In an ideal world there would be time for every person to tell their story, but as there is not it seems unfair to prioritize mine.

So, you ask, what would you like to write as your bio, Mark?

Umm. How about: Mark Bridge. A human being. Sometimes reasonable.

Yup, I think I could go with that.