Every day we make impressions on others. Might be good. Might be bad. But the fact of the matter is, we leave one kind or another on every person we connect with, whether it’s online, in print, or in person.
On Dictionary.com the word “impression” is defined this way:
Noun – 1. a strong effect produced on the intellect, feelings, conscience, etc.
2. the first and immediate effect of an experience or perception upon the mind; sensation.
And so, it really is true. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. First impressions stay with people permanently, so just throwing something out there to represent the message you’ve been given to share can be a dangerous thing. Going back later and having to do damage control, to try to take back the impression made and replace it with a better one…that’s a hard thing to do.
That’s why I’m such a stickler for presentation and making sure we package ourselves, as Christian speakers, writers, proclaimers of God’s faithfulness, in a manner consistent with the extremely Good News we have to share. In this post, we’ll look at the first three components that are vital to your presentation. These are tangible ways to develop a lasting impression that is classy, professional, and compelling.
A Compelling Bio
The first is your bio. Remember, your bio communicates who you are, hopefully in a way that engages the person reading and makes them want to know more about you. So, as you begin to think about your bio, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Know your audience:Think about it. Where your bio is shared may change the pertinent information you communicate. Not only do you need to consider who your audience is, who’s going to be reading the bio, but how best to relate to them so your bio is written in a way that grabs their attention.You may have a few different audiences that your books/speaking topics engage. You could write a bio differently if it’s targeted to pastors and church leadership than you would if it’s aiming at youth or maybe other writers.So, think it through, and consider working up a few different bios for different venues.
- Have some self-control!Resist the urge to tell your background in chronological order. The reader doesn’t need to hear your whole journey. If there are some details that are important to include and there’s no way to be brief, create a short bio and an expanded one. When you post the short one make sure there’s a link to expand to the longer one if needed.
- Write your bio in first person.But keep this in mind … the bio that goes on the back of your book or on a one-sheet for your speaking ministry, that, now, is a different story. Those both need to be written in third person, not first. However, on your website, blog, and social media platforms, your voice needs to be present in order to create the connection … so communicate who you are in a way that keeps you down to earth and approachable.
- End your bio with a call to action.Make the most of this small piece of advertising and encourage the reader to take a next step:
- Tweet you
- Post a comment
- Visit and “like” your Facebook page
- Listen to a podcast
- Watch a video
- Connect with you further
Now, for social media venues, your short bio actually needs to be developed in two different word counts, depending on where the bio is posted. For Facebook and Twitter, your bio needs to be no more than 25 words. There’s a good reason for this. You want to make sure the bio doesn’t continue on off the front page and require the person to click to continue reading.
I’ll use my example from my radio show, Always Faithful. Here are my descriptions/bios for each platform.
Affirming God’s Faithfulness in a mix of interviews with favorite authors and insights into God’s goodness. Learn more at http://www.alwaysfaithfulradio.com
I host Always Faithful Radio on AM 630 KSLR. I love to share stories of God’s faithfulness with women from all walks of life! http://www.alwaysfaithfulradio.com
As you can see in the picture, even on a phone, the “about” section shows the entire bio without breaking it up.
For platforms like LinkedIn and Google+, you have a little more room to be able to display your bio. The word count for these two venues is about 65 words, max. Below is how my summary reads on LinkedIn, and again, the image of how my page looks to a person searching for me shows the whole of the text without losing any of it:
I am a former radio talk show host for Always Faithful Radio. My current focus is on helping authors through Redemption Press, and my new role as a pastor’s wife. I am available for speaking engagements to encourage women in their faith by sharing my own colorful journey and personal experience of God’s faithfulness. Learn more at www.redemption-press.com and http://www.alwaysfaithfulradio.com
An example of my bio from a one sheet, here’s how my bio is written in third person:
Author, Speaker, Radio Personality, Pastor’s Wife and Publisher, Athena Dean, has been speaking to groups, large and small, for over 30 years. She is passionate to see women recognize the faithfulness of God, no matter how difficult life may be.
A cult survivor and advocate, she uses her twelve years of deception, along with her background in ministry to women who’ve suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to provide a unique Biblical perspective.
Her own struggles and quest to heal in an authentic way has equipped her with an enormous capacity for compassion and empathy, along with the scriptural answers we need when we’ve been hurt by others.
An Engaging Headshot
The next component we’ll discuss is your headshot. Don’t cut corners on this one … you want to present yourself in a way that truly represents who you are.
- Make sure the picture you use shows a warm smile.You should come across as open, approachable, warm, and engaging.
- Work with a professional who can catch you looking like YOU!Don’t take a selfie or have your mom snap a shot with her phone. That’s just way too casual. On the other hand, don’t use a glamour shot with lots of glitter and a boa around your neck either, and unless your audience is corporations, you probably don’t need to wear formal business attire in your picture either.
- Please be real!Whatever you do, be sure to offer reality … WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get!). I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had authors send in a dated picture where they were 30 pounds lighter or 40 years younger. Use a current photo, not one from high school! When someone meets you, they should not be surprised that you look completely different from the photo on your website!
Michael Hyatt wrote a great article that goes into more depth on getting a great headshot.
And just to give you a good visual, I went onto Google images and searched “Christian author” … I found both of these examples … can you see the difference?
A Signature Business Card
The last component we’ll look at in this post is your business card. Not everything you do and every impression you make will be on the internet, so make sure you are equipped with a quality business card to insure your first impression in person is classy.
Here are some important tips to consider:
- Large enough font so it’s readable.Don’t try to crowd so much on the front that you have to use a 6 point font! Be willing to print on the front and back so you have room to list everything you need.
- Professional headshot.I want to make sure the person I meet in person will remember me, so I prefer including my headshot on my business card. It’s a personal touch that I think goes a long way.
- All ways to reach you.Be sure to list all the different ways you can be reached. Some people prefer to text or call a cell, some email, some want to connect on Facebook or through Twitter.
- Use a substantial card stock.I love using MOO.com with their heavy paper stock and silky finish, not to mention their rounded edges for no extra charge. I think the look and feel of a quality business card communicates quality and that’s important. I know you can print off your own cards with business card paper from the stationary store, but for the little bit of savings I think you end up sacrificing that important first impression!
Here’s an example of my card…just to give you a visual:
As I mentioned at the start, this topic is important enough that I’m breaking it up into a series of posts. I’ll be back in a few days with Part Two to go over the next few components that will help you package yourself with class … see you then!
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