How to write a compelling profile (part two) : Writing the profile

By Karlea Lewis

Once you have conducted your interview and asked all of the right questions for your profile piece, you need to put it all together to tell a compelling story.

The first step is to review the interview. Reread your notes or listen to your audio recording. Pay attention to themes, reoccurring topics and what your subject was particularly passionate about as you review. Make sure you highlight the best quotes, great anecdotes and the most interesting information.

Next, choose a key theme for the profile. After conducting an in-depth interview you likely gathered a great deal of interesting information and stories but it is important to narrow your focus for the final profile. You are telling a story and choosing a theme will make it focused, memorable and meaningful.

Keep your key theme in mind and use the highlighted parts from your review to plan your outline. Focus your profile on the most compelling things about your subject and don’t forget the context of your profile. Make sure you know your purpose and audience and ask yourself what will be most interesting and useful for your readers.

When writing, always try to show, don’t tell your readers. For example, use an anecdote to illustrate a point. Use biographical information sparingly and strategically as a way to create context to help readers understand the subject but avoid letting your profile sound like a résumé.

When editing, make sure nothing is left unanswered. If you can, have a friend or colleague look over your profile for you to see if any key information is missing. Make sure the story still makes sense to someone who doesn’t have the background research or time spent with the subject that you have.

Accuracy and attention to detail is important. During the editing process, double-check your facts such as names, titles and dates. If you aren’t positive about something either get in touch with your subject for confirmation or leave it out.

Use these tips to craft a compelling narrative to share your subject’s motivations and passions with your audience. Have any other tips for writing a great profile piece? Share them in the comment section!

This is part two of a two-part series on “How to Write a Compelling Profile Piece”. The first installment covered tips for conducting your interview.