27 February 2017

Reading Other People's Minutes

It is important to read other people's minutes.  Especially from meetings that your boss may have something to do with.  It can be beneficial for a number of reasons:
  • It will give you a broader idea of what your boss is involved in and will help you assist him or her better;
  • It will help you understand the business better, which will help you in taking your own minutes;
  • It can give you pointers are how to minute better by looking at how they worded a sentence or handled a discussion.  You can use some of the words they used.  Whenever I learn a new word or phrase, I add it to my list and if I'm ever stuck, I go back to the list and choose something appropriate;
  • It will also give you good tips on what not to do.  Many times I have read minutes and there was a lot of he said/she said in it, or it was so point form it didn't make a lot of sense.  Looking at it as an outsider helped me to see how that was not the best way to record minutes.

23 January 2017

Annotated Agenda

It is very useful to prepare an annotated agenda when going into a meeting.  For those who have never used one (or heard of it), it is simply an agenda with notes on it.  For the agenda that I send to the meeting participants, I annotate it to let them know why an item is on the agenda or if there are any attachments.  In my example below you will see that I put brackets around the notes and italicize them.

Call to Order:
1.  Adoption of Agenda (Motion Required)
2.  Approval of Previous Minutes of December 25, 2016 (Attached) (Motion Required)
3.  ABC Matter (Deferred from November meeting) (For Discussion)
4.  Staff Communications (15 minutes to discuss any concerns from staff)

For the agenda for the Chair and myself, I prepare it as above, but with cheat notes so he will not forget some points he wants to make or that I want to remind him to bring up.  My new boss had never used an annotated agenda before so when I started using it he kept telling me how useful it was.  You will see in my example below that I use red font, but you can use any colour that stands out or highlight it in yellow.  Whatever works for you and the Chair.

Call to Order:
-  Remind them about the upcoming retreat on Feb. 10. 
- Finance Committee signed off on budget.
- Mr. Roberts will be the new Co-Chair of the Finance Committee (Mr. Brown is stepping down as Co-Chair of this Committee as of January 26, 2017).
1.  Adoption of Agenda (Motion Required)  
2.  Approval of Previous Minutes of December 25, 2016 (Attached) (Motion Required)
3.  ABC Matter (Deferred from November meeting) (For Discussion)
4.  Staff Communications (15 minutes to discuss any concerns from staff)
- Dress code
- Opening of new staff parking lot

I highlight it if a motion is required, just so he doesn't forget.  Some Chairs are good at that, while others are not, so it will depend on the Chair you are working with, but it doesn't hurt.

My boss will tell me things he wants on the annotated agenda throughout the weeks and days leading up to the meeting.  The day before the meeting I then print the Chair's annotated agenda and take a copy with me as well. 

The annotated agenda is also helpful for me to refer to when I am typing up the minutes.  Since I know what he is planning to talk about, I am one step ahead of the game when I draft the minutes.

21 October 2016

Then or Than?

I have always had trouble knowing when to use the words 'then' or 'than'.  Sometimes it is easy to figure out, but other times I struggle.  Well, today I came across a sentence where the person used 'then' and I was pretty sure it should have been 'than', but wasn't positive.  Rhymes like the following have always helped me like:

- 30 days have September, April June and November, all the rest have 31 excepting February, which has 28 days clear, 29 days each leap year
- 'i' before 'e'  except after 'c' (but there are exceptions)

- or what a school teacher I worked with taught me about when to use 'I' or 'me' in a sentence.  If you can change the sentence around and use 'we' then you would use 'I' in the sentence, if you can change the sentence around and use 'us' then you would use 'me' in the sentence.  For example: "We went to the store."  Because you used 'we' it would be 'Robert and 'I' went to the store'.  OR "Darlene walked to school with us."  Because you used 'us' it would be Darlene walked to school with Robert and 'me'.
Well, thanks to Google Search, I have found a little trick about using the words 'then' and 'than' that I thought was worth sharing to help remember when to use these two words.  I hope you find it helpful.  It worked for me!!
"A good trick to keep track of these words is that then is usually used to indicate time. Both then and time have a letter “E” in them. Than is used to make comparisons. Both than and comparison have a letter “A” in them.

Then vs. Than: What's the Difference? - Writing Explained


23 June 2016

Advanced Minute Taking webinar on July 6, 2016

After a wonderful experience at the AdminPro Conference in Orlando, Florida on June 14-17, 2016, I feel invigorated and ready to go.  We can learn so much from each other and learn with did.  Especially at the roundtable event where participants had 25 minutes to sit at the various speaker tables and ask questions.  The questions asked really helped me to focus my webinar on the areas that were most needed.  The next webinar is on July 6, 2016 at 1 p.m.  I hope you can join us.  Click on the following link for more information and registration details: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/plp/64676/index.html?campaigncode=1309PR

12 April 2016

Sharing your Skills

Do you want to get better at what you do?  Share it!! 

You wouldn't believe how much I learn each time I give a minute-taking or travel webinar.  Because I am giving the webinar I have to review the material and make sure I know my stuff.  The audience will certainly know if I don't. 

The same can apply in your workplace.  If there is sharing of information among the admins, then we can learn from each other and we all grow.  You can do it formally in a teaching setting or informally talking to each other at a team meeting.  Some things that the more experienced admins could teach would be minute-taking, travel arrangements, meeting scheduling, event planning and organizing your boss.  Some of the younger workers could teach us new tricks with technology to do all of the above. 

The next time you figure out how to do something, send an email to your team and share it.  They might already know, but then again it might be just the thing they were trying to figure out.  Especially when it comes to technology.  If you throw it out there, it gets others thinking about what they can share and then you have an environment of sharing information and growing.

Here are a few tips I will throw out:
  • If your menu bar disappears in Internet Explorer, press F11 to bring it back again. 
  • If you find yourself all of a sudden churning out weird characters when you're typing along, try pressing the left CTRL + SHIFT keys at the same time to switch it back over (You might need to press them a few times).
  • If you are at a meeting and have a PowerPoint presentation on screen (in Slideshow mode), but are not ready to show it yet, press B and the screen will go black, or W and the screen will go white.  When you are ready to start the presentation, press any key to bring the presentation back on screen. 
  • In Excel, if you want to go to the next line, but stay in the same cell, press Alt Enter.
Do you have anything to share?

15 March 2016

The Executive Assistant

Being an Executive Assistant is more than just a title.  When you get to this level it is expected you will take on leadership responsibilities. 

I am in an Administrative Assistant role again and am really enjoying it, but having just finished my career as an Executive Assistant, I am appreciating the work that they do, but at this time in my life am glad to leave it for someone else.

Now that I am looking at it from an Administrative Assistant's perspective, I see the EA role as being someone to look up to and seek guidance from.  It should be someone who has experience and knows their way around an office.  The person should also have initiative and be an ideas person.  When I was an EA I loved coming up with new ideas, but I also had to listen to what others on the team thought because together we came up with the best ideas.

Some things that an EA can do to show leadership:
  • chairing (or starting) an admin team
  • planning for and organizing a schedule for replacements when other administrative staff are away
  • organizing educational events for the other administrative staff and/or teaching them
  • succession planning to ensure someone will be able to take over when people leave
It can include any number of these things or all of them depending on your organization, but don't be afraid to make suggestions if your organization isn't there yet.  Sometimes it takes time to build the reputation of the Administrative Team.  Most bosses know the value of their Assistants, they just need to see how it can work as a team and the added value to the organization.

The last place I worked was very progressive in that way and looked to the Admin Team as professionals in our field.  It was probably the best model I have ever seen in all my career, but it came about by having the support of senior management.  Most Executive Assistants work for the CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents of the company and what better place to be to initiate change.  Having your boss on your side goes a long way to paving the way for implementing some new ideas.  Some of the best ideas I received were actually from my boss.  He saw the value of the administrative staff and helped me to see it in a new way too.  It helped that he was the CEO, but he expected me to be a leader too.

However you are showing leadership in your role as EA, lead by example.  If you are a professional in your position, the others will look up to you and want to learn from you.  Be willing to do the work you want them to do.

Yes, being an Executive Assistant is much more than just a title.

Minute-taking Q&A

In preparation for the AdminPro Forum on June 15-17, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, here is an article with some Question and Answers about Minute taking

For more information on AdminPro Forum 2016, please click on the website and if you are able to join us, please register at this linkI hope to see you there!