First Person or Third Person?

First person and third person are simply different ways to get the same info across, and which you use will depend on the situation.

First person is simply how you introduce yourself. Third person is how someone else introduces you.

For example:

Last year I went to Celebrating Dance Festival in the UK. I went to the gala show in the evening and picked an empty seat next to a dancer I recognized from the promotional material as a fellow workshop teacher. I said to her “Hi, I’m Sara Shrapnell. I’m a belly dance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I previously lived and worked in Basingstoke (UK)”. My introduction was first person.

Later that weekend I was sitting waiting for one of the workshops to start and talking to an old friend when the workshop teacher I had met at the Gala came over. My friend said “Hi. Do you know Sara? She used to live in the UK, but now teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also writes books about belly dance”. Her introduction was third person.

If you find yourself unsure which type of bio to use in a situation, imagine who is talking to the “end user” of your services as a belly dancer. If the conversation is just between two people and your information won’t be passed on, its friendly to write in 1st person. If you are working through a “middle man”, a host, an MC (master of ceremonies) or an administrator, and they are passing your bio onwards, then write in 3rd person.

For example, let’s think about an upcoming gig where you will be dancing at a corporate retirement party: The event organizer asks you (via email) if you can send her some more info about yourself, so you reply, “Yeah, sure – I’ve been dancing for more than 25 years…..” Two days later they have booked you and the organizer sends you another email asking for a bio to add to the marketing materials. She wants to send out an email to the whole company inviting them to the retirement party and encourage them to bring their families. This time you write “Yeah of course – “Sara Shrapnell has been a belly dancer for more than 25 years….””

The first example was a conversation between you and the end user who was the event organizer (first person). The second is a conversation between you and the event organizer, who is going to talk to your end users (party goers) on your behalf (third person).

I suggest you write your sample bios in both 1st person and 3rd person, as they are used in different situations:

Cover letter for job application to work as a dance instructor at a gym: 1st person “Hi, I’m Sara Shrapnell and I am a belly dance teacher based in Pleasanton…..”

Introduction by MC at a performance: 3rd person “Sara Shrapnell is a dynamic performer based in Pleasanton….”

Informal personal web site: 1st person “Hi! – I’m Sara! This web site has lots of info about the belly dance classes I teach around the Bay Area….”

Formal personal web site: 3rd person “Sara Shrapnell is a dynamic performer offering personalized performances for weddings, galas and baby showers in the Pleasanton area….”

Introductions/ friend request via social media: 1st person “Hi, I’m Sara and I write books about belly dance…..”

Workshop information: 3rd person “Sara Shrapnell has taught over 5,000 belly dance classes…..”

However, if in doubt, send both! If someone asks you for a bio and you are not sure if they want 1st person or 3rd person, just send both and let them decide!

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