Tools and Tips

How to Write Your Bio

Your bio will be used to provide background to journalists and in programs at speaking engagements. Here are some tips for developing your bio:

De-jargon wherever possible — Remember that you are writing for a general audience, not for academic colleagues. Terms specific to your field may not mean anything to someone looking for a speaker at an upcoming PTA meeting. Examples:

  • Use "teaching" instead of "pedagogy."
  • Use "student activities" instead of "co-curricula"

Chose awards and publications sparing — Don't list every award or journal article from your CV. List only your most recent accomplishments. List your top publications as well as any in mainstream national media. Focus on the awards and publications that will establish you as a regional or national expert in your field.

Think like an outsider — When listing your fields of expertise, think like someone searching for a speaker. Don't limit yourself to your very specific discipline. An expert in counseling veterans, for example, may be referenced as an expert in gambling, military, psychology & human behavior, and social issues.

For Media Interviews

Contact Media Relations — Please alert the Media Relations Office whenever you are contacted for interviews. Media relations staff can offer background on the reporter and/or news outlet, seek more information on the request, and help you prepare for the interview. They can also give you tips on what to wear and offer some do's and dont's about the interview process.

Respond quickly — Reporters are usually on immediate deadlines. If you're not the most appropriate representative, refer the reporter to the Office of Media Relations, who will track down the right source.

Get details and prepare — Get the reporter's contact info and ask about the story and how you can help. If you need time to learn more about the issue, set up a time later that morning or day to call the reporter back. They'll understand.

Think simply — Short answers, free of technical terms and jargon, help both reporters and their audiences understand the issue and your expertise. If you want to be sure your key message is conveyed, break it down and repeat it.

For Speaking Engagements

Bring stuff — Include real objects to pass around in your presentation, as appropriate. Handouts can include:

  • Copies of your Powerpoint
  • Program or departmental brochures
  • Exhibits or specimens related to your research
  • Your suggestions for related books, blogs, and social media sites to follow
  • Fact pages, such as UNLV Highlights

Discuss equipment needs — If your presentation will require special equipment, coordinate with your community group contact to make sure it will be available or plan to bring it yourself. General UNLV-produced videos are available on the university's YouTube channel.

Giveaways — If you are talking to schoolchildren, do you have any mementos you can hand out? Children are crazy for any kind of tchotchke, including pins, pens, stickers, and decals.

Dress — Business dress is appropriate for most speaking engagements. If you are in doubt about what to wear, ask the person who requested you as a speaker what would be appropriate.