Must Have Skills to Become a Successful Administrative Assistant
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Must Have Skills to Become a Successful Administrative Assistant

  Jul 14 2019

# Administration and Secretarial

As an inexperienced secretary, I hated taking notes and writing minutes – I’d rather have thrown myself downstairs! However, as I progressed to more senior roles, I eventually got the hang of it and have, since 2000, been helping other PAs and administrators to resolve their concerns.

Here are some hints on the skills you need:

Being good at taking notes

You should have your own prepared system for taking quick notes. Remember you don’t need to write perfect English in the meeting. Prepare your abbreviations in advance of the meeting. If you haven’t already got a system, think about learning speedwriting or shorthand.

Good mastery of English

This is very important so that people can understand your minutes and to reflect a good image of you, your department and organization.

Good vocabulary

You will need a good general vocabulary and an understanding of the technical terms, jargon and abbreviations that may be used in the meeting. Get yourself informed before the meeting so you’ll understand what’s being said.

Word processing skills

A set of well-presented minutes reflects well on you. If you are regularly minuting the same type of meeting then use a template. You can then use a laptop and type your notes straight onto your template – but remember you are not writing your minutes in the meeting, you are simply taking notes.

Summarizing skills

This is after the meeting; you need to write a summary based on the notes you have taken. Minute taking is NOT dictation…. don’t “go through the process”.

Listening skills

Always the first skill that people think of as the most difficult. Understanding the subject is one of the main ways to make life easier.

Proofreading skills

It’s important to check your minutes after they have been typed. One tip is to print off the minutes and check them again.

Knowledge of how to use reported speech

You may occasionally have to report what people say in minutes and, if so, reported speech should be used. However, by using excellent summarizing skills you can avoid the “he said, she said‟ scenarios (see above).

A good relationship with the Chairperson

A very important part of minute taking. A chairperson and minute taker should always have time together to prepare for their meetings.

What to record

A sense of what you should and shouldn’t record is a skill that takes time to develop. It helps to understand your readership and the use of the minutes after they have been written. Most important – always include any actions.

About the Author

Heather Baker

Heather Baker is a highly accomplished training consultant, specializing in Office Professional skills, with over 19 years of training experience. Before becoming a consultant and delivering programs to numerous participants from all levels of administration, Heather spent over 20 years in multiple Executive Assistant roles, including 10 years assisting the Chief Executive of Granada Television in the U.K.

Heather’s programs not only cover the fundamentals, but also encompass innovative topics to help organizations thrive in their daily activities. Her training has enabled professionals to enhance the way they work, leading to more success for their business.

Heather holds a Paris Chamber of Commerce Bilingual Secretarial Diploma and is a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. She travels worldwide to motivate and develop the skills of personnel in diverse organizations and industries. She regularly delivers presentations at secretarial and office professional conferences and is a regular contributor to office professional magazines, webinars and blogs. She is also a Prince’s Trust Business Mentor in the UK and a mentor for Isipho Admin in South Africa, as well as the creator of the Baker Write speedwriting system and the author of “Successful Minute Taking: Meeting the Challenge” and “Successful Business Writing”.

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