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The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

As a professional VA, you can get asked to do many things.  

But you may find you are given – and enjoy – specific tasks within the spectrum. 

You may use some features and elements of Microsoft Office more than others. 

You mostly likely know how to do some tasks ‘with your eyes shut’ whilst some tasks have you searching online for the ‘how to’. The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

It’s good practice to review the type of work you are doing and assess for any skills gaps. 

How many of the following tasks do you do for clients or growing your VA business? 

  • Reports 
  • Proposals 
  • eBooks 
  • Letters 
  • Invoices
  • Mail merge – one letter to many people, customised for each individual
  • Mail merge Email – sending the same email to many people in a customised way
  • Writing books
  • Drafting documents
  • Brainstorming and thinking creatively
  • Signing documents – using a digital pen and writing directly on the screen
  • Drawing and Mind Mapping with a digital pen 

If you ticked half or more (or can see tasks you might be asked to do in future) you are in Microsoft Word territory.  

You can get more done in less time with Word with my online courses.  

There’s no fluff or ‘padding’. Just the bits that you really need to know to tackle the most popular tasks. 

That’s Word covered so let me ask you something else. 

Does your client work involve calculations or storing and organising information? 

If yes, these are some of the things you can use Excel for: 

  •  Profit and Loss worksheet 
  • Tracking payments 
  • Cashflow projection 
  • Invoice list 
  • Social Media Calendar
  • Social Media Planner
  • Keeping track of Income and Expenditure
  • Making Lists
  • Contact List
  • Any data you need to sort or filter
  • Making things add up
  • Time tracking 

If you want to excel with Excel, my online courses can help you. Grasp the essentials and pick up some advanced tips along the way. 

Learn at your leisure. Where you want, when you want. 

Spend less time worrying about the ‘how-to’ and more time on serving your clients like a VIP. 

And one of the things you’ll almost certainly end up using is PowerPoint. 

Despite what some people may think, this application is not just for presentations. 

Here’s some of what this Microsoft Office visual creativity powerhouse can do: 

  • Presentations 
  • Proposals 
  • Explaining with Clarity – the slides force you to reduce the amount of text 
  • Infographics 
  • Instagram posts
  • Create anything visual
  • Design blog post cover images to retain your branding
  • Photo album
  • eBook
  • Planner
  • Prepare and rehearse a big presentation 

If you want to power up your PowerPoint skills, I can help with that. 

My online courses give you lifetime access. 

This means you can learn when you want – and come back to a specific task training whenever you need a refresher. 

Creativity is one aspect of a VA’s role. Organisation is another. 

Outlook is the control centre for your emails, communications, calendar appointments and tasks. 

How many of the following do you use in your weekly work? 

  • Communicate by email 
  • Book appointments 
  • Book meetings 
  • Schedule meetings with others 
  • Keep a task list
  • Keep a to-do list by flagging your email
  • Colour code appointments to make them easier to see
  • Manage your client/boss calendar
  • Manage your client/boss inbox
  • Reply to things on someone else’s behalf 

If an online Outlook course could help you get more done in less time, why wouldn’t you take a look? 

The smarter you work the more space there is for your VA business to grow. 

Audit. Learn. Review. 


The Ready-Reckoner for Tasks

VAs – How To Gain Insta Plaudit Points from your clients

VAs – How To Gain Insta Plaudit Points from your clients

VAs – How To Gain Instagram Plaudit Points from your clients

It’s really fascinating to me how different VA’s around the world are. Some are new and just starting out. Others have years and years of experience.

Some provide a general range of services. Others specialise in one or more areas.

VAs - How To Gain Insta Plaudit Points from your clients

Some VA’s are happy to complete tasks they are given and focus on doing a good job with that. Others like to offer ideas, suggestions and advice on top – in service of the client.

Be of service to your clients

Here’s an example of how you can do the latter, using Instagram (or IG or Insta, however you know it by).

You might be asked to create Insta posts by a client. You could deliver those well and leave it at that. A professional job well done.

Or you could go one step further. And earn some profitable plaudits and praise.

You might notice, observe or take a closer look at how your client is using Instagram for their business.

Offer Feedback and SuggestionsVAs - How To Gain Insta Plaudit Points from your clients

And then offer them some feedback, some suggestions, some ideas.

Just because a company is using Instagram does not mean they know how to use it well – or make the most of it for marketing.

You may even have a better idea of how it works than your client does.

Which means you can offer them much more than just timely completion of a few posts.

You can give them some tips or things to think about. Things like:

  • Share tips, how-tos and messages which hint at your solutions
  • Ensure posts match your brand and company values
  • Use short video clips as well as written posts
  • Explore and experiment with Instagram Stories (slideshows)
  • Update the bio section and get smart with the clickable link
  • Give customers, clients or prospects a ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ tour
  • Use #hashtags wisely (and sparingly) to expand your audience reach
  • Highlight collaborations and partners
  • Share customer success stories
  • Reward loyal followers with exclusive content

You may have many more tips up your sleeve to share with your clients.

And here’s the thing.

When you are seen as a specialist or someone with a strategic mind, you are likely to attract new work. That’s not just from your current clients but also from the people they recommend to work with you.

Remember, word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool out there.

How can you add more plaudits to your portfolio of services?

VAs - How To Gain Insta Plaudit Points from your clients

P.S. If you want the confidence to turn around Insta posts fast, you can learn how to do it in 30 minutes or less. I show you how in my online course Instant Instagram Posts. Worth knowing because when the ‘how to’ is easy you can focus on adding more value for your clients.

Better for your clients, better for you.

3 Tips for Every Presentation You Create

3 Tips for Every Presentation You Create

Presentations are a way of life in business.

And – despite what you may hear from some quarters – PowerPoint remains a popular tool for helping to deliver them.

You may in your VA career come across grumbles from some clients or company employees.

They might even use the withered phrase “Death by PowerPoint”.3 Tips for Every Presentation You Create

But what they really mean is they have endured experiences where the presenter was poor – or the slides were dull and boring.

The tool itself is designed to deliver impressive presentations. It’s the people who use it badly who need to make some changes.

As a Virtual Assistant, it’s probable that at some point you will be asked to put something together for a client – or even create something for your own business.

Here are THREE ways to ensure your presentations on PowerPoint sing a beautiful tune.

Tip 1: Use ONE Idea per Slide…

One of the biggest reasons why presentations miss the mark is too much is crammed onto the slides.

It makes it dull and hard for the audience to take in the information.

Each slide should have just one core message.

And the presenter can speak to that message – then move on to the next slide and the next idea.

They should have prepared and practised their talk beforehand. And there is a ‘notes’ feature in PowerPoint should they need a little prompt.

Tip 2: Keep it Simple…

Before you jump into PowerPoint, take time to get the story straight in your mind.

Sketch out little visual representations of your ideas on sticky notes or some paper. This helps you to think of clear words and pictures before you begin to create them in the application.

It’s another way to avoid writing loads of words on the screen. Simple works best.

Tip 3: Turn Your Words Into Pictures…

They say a picture paints a thousand words.

And it’s certainly true that Images are easier for people to instantly grasp and understand.

So, take a look at the words on your slides or being considered for your slides.

For example, you may have a slide with bullet points.

Pick out and circle all the nouns or verbs on the slide and see how they relate to each other.

What you may well find is that you can recognise a visual relationship between those words. And it’s likely to be one of five types.

  1. Flow – Which reveals a process. Like a flow chart or diagram.
  2. Structure – Like a family tree or team hierarchy.
  3. Cluster – It shows groupings. For example, a Venn diagram.
  4. Radiate – This shows links or nodes. For example, a Mind Map.
  5. Influence – This picture presents cause and effect. For example, a Fishbone Diagram

The better you know how to use PowerPoint (and all its design features) the better you will be able to serve your clients.

Some will be confident about presentations and know exactly what they want. Some may be less sure about talks.

As a VA with presentation expertise, you can offer advice and guidance about how best to put everything together.

And in guiding your client through the process you will also be making your task a little easier as well.

When you know how to use the software – the tasks become fun!

3 Tips for Every Presentation You Create

P.S. If you want to speed up your mastery of PowerPoint you can take my online Master the Slide Master course for Windows. Oh, and there’s a version for Mac, too, of course.

How to Stay Ahead of the Infographics Curve

How to Stay Ahead of the Infographics Curve


Businesses are constantly looking at the best ways to get their message across to their audience.

And sometimes the information they want to get across can be quite complex.

That’s when they may turn to using an infographic to tell the story.How to Stay Ahead of the Infographics Curve

You have probably seen examples of these around – or might even have been asked to create one yourself.

An infographic is a piece of visual content that presents information using a graph, chart or image. It could represent statistics, trends, results, forecasts or other data.

The idea is to convey the message in a simple way.

This makes it easier for people to view things at a glance, take in the information and remember it.

Take this example infographic of ideas for a Lead Magnet :

How to Stay Ahead of the Infographics Curve

Infographics have certainly seen a rise in popularity so you may find clients asking you to help put one together.

And you can do this in PowerPoint (which is why I put together a course to show you how to do that).

One of the challenges when creating infographics is that they can end up looking the same as any other.

But there are ways to keep up with the current trends and make something that really stands out.

Firstly, choose original images instead of stock photos to add that personal branding touch.

A second way is to use quote roundups.

These can work if you want to share a dose of inspiration or food for thought.

Find a quote aligned with your topic and add the picture of the person who said the quote. Add more quotes from other people to create a set.

For this to add value, the people you quote are probably as important as the information in the quote. Look for celebrities, famous people and key influencers in a relevant niche. Or it could be a compilation of sayings from your client’s senior team.

A third trend is the emergence of dynamic infographics. As the name suggests, this is where the content includes GIFs and other moving elements.

There also seems to be a bit of a resurgence in the use of 3D designs. They do stand out compared to two dimensions.

Another trend is towards brighter and bolder fonts.

They help to draw the reader’s attention to the information and make it look fun. The danger is that you can go overboard with colours and fonts and spoil the professional feel of it.

If you’re unsure about the basics I’ve got you covered in my course about How to Create Infographics with PowerPoint.

And when you get good at these you can make a bit of a name for yourself.

People are always on the lookout for VA’s with specialist skills sets.

You might become the go-to infographics expert.

How to Stay Ahead of the Infographics Curve

3 Tips for Every Presentation You Create

VAs – Start a presentation from a template

Templates In PowerPoint

Now you may be thinking – I know you can start a presentation from a template, but did you know that Microsoft provides lots of ready made design templates both locally on your computer and online? No? Well let me show you.VAs – Start a presentation from a template

In PowerPoint click File New and you can choose from any of the templates offered on the screen. These are Design templates and include colours and layouts and sometimes variations.

PowerPoint Template

But if you look at the top of the New screen you will see that you can search online and there are categories. One such category is Business which I picked to use as an illustration.

PowerPoint template search

When I click Business I can now choose from quite a selection and I chose Tech Dividend Design.

PowerPoint Online template

It downloads the template and when you click Create a new presentation is opened on your screen complete with ready-made slides for you to simply update with your data.

PowerPoint template

Cool no? I think so!

PowerPoint courses

Did you know that I have three PowerPoint courses in the tomorrow’s VA Academy?

Master the Slide Master takes you through how to get to and modify the slide master so that you can update the design of your presentation in one place.

How to Create Infographics just using PowerPoint – shows you how to harness the software you have on your machine to create Infographcis.

Create Instant Instagram Posts in 30 Minutes or Less – yep, you are correct! I show you how to use PowerPoint to create Instagram posts. Once your template is set up you can create 30 or so in half an hour.

The Master The Slide Master comes in two flavours, one for Windows and one for Mac.

The other two are recorded using PowerPoint for Windows – however work the same way for Mac.

Get them here – Courses

You will see that there is also a bundle – Social Traffic Mastery which includes all three courses.

VAs – Start a presentation from a template





Testimonial – This is what one of my students says about Master the Slide Master

The first thing I heard about Shelley Fishel, the author of this course, was from my web designer – “she knows EVERYTHING about Microsoft Office. Any problems, just message her.” This came an the right time. I had just had my first skirmish with the Slide Master and I had come off worst. Still licking my wounds, I didn’t have the confidence to ask for help. 

Word reached Shelley that I needed help and she told me about the course. I knew I needed it but ego knew better. Oh, crud. A few months went by and I had reached the dizzy heights of 20 to the Slide Master, 0 to me. I had spent hours trying to recreate the same thing in Excel that someone had done using the Slide Master. It didn’t work. Of course, it didn’t work! 

Swallowing my pride, I took this course. It’s great. Easy to manage, there’s one video that’s just over five minutes and the rest are less than five minutes. It’s in bite-sized pieces and everything is carefully explained with Shelley doing it as she’s talking. 

It’s clear and easy to understand even a bolshi 63 year old can understand it. 

I’ve changed the fonts and I’ve changed the colours in the Slide Master, which is my new BFF. It isn’t quite purring but we’ve shaken paws and I’m taking it out for a drink later πŸ™‚

Why would anyone take a perfectly good idea for a presentation then build it using the Slide Master when PowerPoint is so good for putting projects together? 

Because, when your project is a daily planner with 365 pages and you get to the end and realise you’ve got the same spelling mistake on every page you’ll wish you had used the Slide Master to build it on, because you’ve got to go and correct every page. Or start again using the Slide Master. 

Using the Slide Master will be a game-changer in my journal design business. It will save me hours of work. 

Thank you, Shelley! 

Shân Marshall

3 Tips for Every Presentation You Create

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

PowerPoint Chart

You have a client who asks you to create a presentation. Now amongst the information that needs to go into that presentation is some data. Your client really wants this data presented as a chart and asks you to do this.

What if you are not sure how to do so? How long is it going to take you to learn? How many hours will you spend trawling the inernet to find out how to create a chart in PowerPoint?

In today’s blog post, I am going to help you with that

Get started via the Insert Ribbon or the Chart Placeholder on a slide.VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

Inserting charts

  • Click on the Insert Chart icon in a placeholder
  • Or Click on the Charts Icon on the Insert Ribbon

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

Figure 1 – add a chart

You will see the Insert Chart Dialogue Box which prompts you to select the type of chart you want to create.

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

Figure 2- choose the chart type

Once you have selected the type of chart, an Excel spreadsheet opens up on top of your slide, with a sample chart in the placeholder. Fill in the data area on the spreadsheet and the chart will update with your numbers and categories. When you have finished filling in the data, simply close the spreadsheet. The chart updates and the spreadsheet disappears.

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

Figure 3- fill in the mini spread sheet

Open and view chart data

You may want to see the data in the spreadsheet in order to make a small (or even big) change.

  • Click on the chart you want to modify.
  • On the chart tools ribbon click Edit Data
  • The mini spreadsheet opens up and you can now modify the data
VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint
Figure 4- edit the data
  • If you select Edit Data in Excel, then a full size spreadsheet opens up on top of PowerPoint complete with data ready to edit.

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

Figure 5- complete the spreadsheet

You can overtype the cells that are filled in. If you need to add more columns to the chart drag the small blue triangle which appears at the bottom right of the range and then add in your new data.

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint

Figure 6- drag the corner to make the chart larger

Continue to update the mini spreadsheet until you have all the data. Then use familiar Chart Tools just like in Excel as the Ribbon will change to show the Chart Ribbon.

Leave me a comment telling me how this has helped you and what else you would love help with in PowerPoint?

VAs – How to Insert and Format Charts in PowerPoint