What’s the difference between a speaker’s bio and an introduction?

Many people don’t realize the difference and often say bio when they mean introduction. And many non-professional speakers mistakenly supply their bio as an introduction.

There is a big difference between these two documents in their purpose and hence their form. Function always drives form.

Speaker Bio
The speaker’s bio (biography) is meant to be read silently. It is printed in the program and meant to impress readers with the credentials of the speaker and attract them to attend the presentation. The bio in it’s worst form looks and feels like a resume. The bio could easily be a full page or several hundred words.

Do not read the speaker’s bio to the audience. It will usually be boring. Not the right start to a presentation.

Speaker Introduction
The speaker's introduction is meant to be heard by the audience just before he starts to speak. It is meant to serve as an introduction to the presentation as delivered by this speaker.

The purpose of a good introduction is to get the audience interested in the topic and confirm the speaker as the best choice for this topic. After a good introduction the audience should feel eager to hear the speaker present on this topic. Also the speaker will feel welcomed by the introduction and audience reaction.

The ideal introduction would have 3 short paragraphs. The first one introduces the topic. The second reminds people why the topic is so important. The third one highlights the reason this speaker is qualified to speak on the topic. This third paragraph will be a selection of the most interesting points from the speaker’s bio. Print the introduction in large type double spaced to make it easier for the introducer to read.

It should take between 30 to 60 seconds for the introducer to read. Anything longer is wasting time. Don't put people to sleep before the speaker starts.

The more prominent the speaker, the shorter the introduction can be. For example “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States”. The bio would be quite different from the introduction.

If you are the speaker, be sure to talk with your introducer before the introduction and ensure that she has the correct pronunciation of your name.

A bio is like a history report. An introduction opens new relationships.

Read "How to Introduce Your Guest Speaker"

George Torok

Motivational Business Speaker

Presentation Skills Coaching

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives


Chris Witt said...


I love the distinction your make between a bio and an intro. If only people would follow your advice. By the time the speaker's introduction (i.e. his/her bio) has been read to me -- boring, boring, boring -- I've already lost interest. Long bios read as intros strike me as ego trips for the speaker, not as aids to the audience.


George Torok said...

An introduction is more about the presentation than the speaker.

Frank (Francesco) S. Adamo said...

I really like your distinction. You should speak at a Toastmasters convention sometime.

I particularly like "The more prominent the speaker, the shorter the introduction can be." It's just too bad that, in my experience, the reverse is the most prominent..

George Torok said...

Frank, thanks for your support.

I'd be happy to speak for Toastmasters again. Can you arrange that? :)

Akashic said...

Dear all,

I am new to this group. Read the comments - every meaningful and provided much insight to the topic.

If I may comment, I am a Trainer, and I usually tell my audience, the reason why this subject may interest them. i.e that it will provide take-aways that may be relevant to meet their immediate needs, (circumstances) or perhaps in the distant future". Thereafter I allow my presentation to roll out the "authority statement". Then in the middle of the presentation, I release parts of my credentials that are relevant to the subject that I am talking about.

I feel giving the audience a "Reason or Need" to listen to the speaker is far more important then being anxious about one's bio or accomplishments. (or even one's list of awards)

I feel when you bring awareness to the audience of the Knowledge, Skills or Attitudes that your presentation beholds, then you would have set them to want to listen you.

(Given that no Organisation would bring in a speaker without authority or appropriate credentials which can be obtained by various means)
My humble sharing.

Regina Thomas

Unknown said...

A benefits is usually additional concerning the demonstration than the speaker.This is really an awesome article on difference between speakers's bio.I learnt a lot.
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