The smart PA or VA knows their worth. 

However, their value to the organisation may not always be acknowledged, recognised or rewarded. 

Even as an employee, the professional assistant will benefit from being business-minded. 

If just seen as someone who sorts the tea and coffee or keeps files in order, that is a tremendous disservice to the role. 

Part of the job is to demonstrate your worth and value. That means some ‘internal marketing’ work on your boss or bosses. 

Here are five ways to go about that. 

1. Show Speed and Efficiency 

Bosses expect their PA or EA to be efficient. They ask for something to be done and it gets done. 

Therefore, knowing how to get tasks done in the most productive way is crucial. If your Microsoft Office skills are up to date and up to the mark, you’ll be able to do more in less time. 

Imagine you have a weekly task that takes 60 minutes and then you find a way to do it in half the time. That saves you 30 minutes a week. That’s a solid 24 hours or more saved every year. 

Your boss won’t be interested in the detail of that. They’ll just love that you’re super-efficient and seem to do it all so effortlessly. 

But you can be subtle about how you affirm your powerful speed and productivity.  

As promised, here is that report you wanted by 3pm.” 

You wanted the presentation ready to rehearse by tomorrow. I managed to get it done for you today. Here it is.” 

And, for a group of bosses, you might find yourself saying: “You each have a copy of the Henderson Report. The information is the same in each copy and I’ve organised the content the way you each prefer it to be presented for ease of reference.” 

Gentle reminders that you are doing a great job. 

2. Demonstrate Skills with Applications and Tasks 

Much of the work of a PA or EA is task-based. 

You’ll be asked to do this. To do that. To take care of something else. 

With strong Microsoft Office skills, you’re already taking care of the efficiency and productivity side. But you can also take further advantage of that to highlight your value. 

You might expect people to know that you’re able to work well in Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams and more. 

But there’s no harm in referencing applications to demonstrate your expertise.  

For example, a boss might be working on a presentation. You can advise them to put their sub-headings and notes in a Word document and you’ll turn that into slides in PowerPoint – so they can see how that looks. 

If you know your Word and PowerPoint tricks, you’ll know how to do that task with ease. 

When you reference the apps you use, it conveys your knowledge and professionalism. Subtle yet powerful. 

Let’s say the organisation is changing email marketing software. You could say: “I’ve merged the different databases into one list in Excel and uploaded that to the new software. We’re all ready to go.” 

It’s a bit of extra detail but not too much detail. Just enough to show how ‘on top of everything’ you are. 

3. Champion Your Communication and Collaboration Expertise 

Bosses may know the core apps in Microsoft Office, but chances are they won’t know what each one is capable of. 

As a PA or EA, you can enlighten executives and managers. Especially around smart ways to communicate and collaborate. 

For presentations, everyone has heard of and fears ‘Death by PowerPoint. However, when used properly, PowerPoint can deliver fantastic presentations. 

The savvy PA or EA can guide and mentor their boss on how to deliver a strong visual presentation. The use of words, styles and designs, animations and other tricks can all be covered. 

The boss can focus on the message and content, knowing that you’ll be able to make it look good. 

When their presentation makes them look good, to their colleagues and peers, it makes you look good, too. 

With hybrid, remote and flexible working still around, virtual meetings are very much part of the working week. 

Some organisations may be using Zoom but if you have Microsoft Teams, it probably makes more sense to use that instead. Teams gives you everything Zoom can do – and a bit more. Plus, your organisation can save on Zoom subscriptions. 

When you have tamed Microsoft Teams, you could be the person who trains others in how to use it within the organisation. If each department has at least one Teams ‘ambassador’ (who knows how the essentials work) those people can become the ‘go to’ for any help. 

Alternatively, hire a Microsoft Teams Trainer who can deliver group training. It can all be delivered effectively online these days – saving you room hire and travel expenses. 

Good communications and strong collaboration are vital to organisational success. The savvy PA or Executive Assistant who can show better ways to go about it will be able to demonstrate a higher value to the people who employ them. 

4. Be an Ideas Person and Problem Solver 

Being an Executive Assistant or PA today is about much more than completing a list of tasks each week. 

People who are able to show that they are more than their title role will stand out. 

Organisations are always looking for new ideas and good suggestions. The savvy PA or EA is likely to have eyes and ears to the ground about what’s happening in the day to day. 

If you see something that’s not working or think of a different, better way of doing things, consider sharing that with your boss. 

For example, it could be presented in this way. 

“Hey, I’ve noticed we do X (activity or behaviour). This causes Y (a problem or poor result). Have we considered doing Z (your idea)? I think it could work and lead to A, B and C (new results or outcomes). What do you think?” 

The PA or EA who shows eagerness to help with strategic or managerial issues can also demonstrate added value to their boss. If you can provide a solution to something that’s been a sticking point, that’s an extra bonus. 

You’ll be seen as a problem-solver and may be given extra responsibility (perhaps even a raise) as a result. If you’re using Microsoft Office to get more done in less time, it’s that saved time you can use to apply to working out ideas. 

5. Share Learning and Development 

The savvy PA or EA sees learning and development as an ongoing process. 

Microsoft Office and its applications get upgrades and tweaks throughout the year. The Windows operating system changes to a new version from time to time. We’re currently at Windows 11. 

The smart PA or EA will ensure they are up to speed with how to use Microsoft Office – and build their skill level with each upgrade. 

As a Microsoft Office trainer, I have refreshed, updated and created new courses to stay on the curve with how each application is changing. 

My latest ‘Essential Office’ programme, for example, is geared for Windows 11 (which looks and functions a little differently to its predecessor, Windows 10) 

But learning is not just about skills with the software and keyboard. 

If you have a second language, that could be useful to your organisation. If you keep up with the news, read magazines or follow relevant articles you may find items of interest to your boss. 

They may know about it. They may not. What they will notice is that you’re thinking about their role and the business. 

It’s another way to demonstrate your value. 

What Message are You Sending Out to Your Executive? 

Who you are, what you do and how you do it are all part of how people perceive you. 

As a PA or EA people simply expect you to get things done. 

They’ll assume you know ‘everything’ about Microsoft Office – even the newer apps like Teams – and how best to use it to get tasks completed. 

They may know some of what you do each week but probably not everything. It’s part of the job of the savvy PA or EA to ensure bosses understand the value of what you do. 

How do you want people to see you? 

The messages are in what you say, do and how you operate.  

How do you demonstrate your value? 

Let me know in the comments. 

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney