The Ins and Outs of Writing Profiles
Some formats you can use to position the profile include:
- Different/typical (or vice versa). The reader can see how the person is different but yet typical.
- Insightful anecdote or quote. The profile starts with a quote that tells you that something interesting is about to come.
- Fall back/spring forward. Pick two periods of time in a person's life and focus on those two periods and how they're connected.
- Action and reaction. The idea is that something happens and then there's an immediate reaction to it. In the end, it can be used as a call to action.
- Paint the scene. Draw a picture with your words. This type of profile doesn't introduce the person at first but paints a picture of the scene and then introduces the person. This is a good way to do a board profile, Miller said.
- Straight Q-and-A style. You can edit responses down to the core of the answer. It's a nice, short way of getting to know people.
Once you figure out what the nut is and which format you're going to use, Miller suggested getting rid of everything else. And be selective about which quotes you use. Do they say something you can't say yourself? Are they revealing? Do they sound too predictable?
Be sure to write a big finish to your profile, as Miller stressed that "your profile's ending is as important as the beginning." Epiphanies, wrap-up quotes and action steps are all good ending elements.
But beware of too much chronology, as it's boring; too many generalities; and stalling questions. What's often missing from profiles is conflict (the three-act structure) and success stories (the person's role in your organization's success).
And be sure to have a good photo, great caption, great headline and maybe even a pull quote alongside your profile.
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