How to Be an Efficient Executive Assistant

So, you finally got up to the 'exalted' Executive Assistant position. Doing it, and doing it well, are two different things. Read this article to learn how to add a little efficiency to the mix.


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    Communicate your intentions and speech in an excellent way. Vocalize everything properly. You’re on the front line, you are the company! Always remember that to all outside callers, you are the company.For internal calls, you are an extension of your boss and represent the department.
    • When you answer the phone, speak from your throat, not your nose. You never want to shriek or sound shrill to callers. Imagine hearing the voice of Fran Drescher from the TV show The Nanny when calling the President of a major corporation. Not the greatest first impression!
      • (For those who aren’t familiar with this sitcom from the nineties, The Nanny, played by Fran Drescher had en extremely nasal and shrill voice. Practice a few times into a mini cassette until you hear (and feel) the difference. When your voice sounds throaty and velvety smooth, you’ve got it.
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    Communicate well through phone messages too. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking a thorough message (time, date, name and telephone number) on a carbon message pad if that is what you or your executive prefers. Using lightly-colored paper, you will type your executive's name and date at the center-top of the page and under that a column for the caller’s name and message. When someone calls, you’ll type the caller’s name, phone number and message, print it out and give it to the executive. Of course, if your boss is not at the desk at the time, you may continue to add names to the log until he/she returns to the office. Give your boss the log so he/she can begin reviewing messages and promptly return calls. As your boss returns calls, he/she will cross out the names of everyone who’s calls have been returned.
    • Periodically (you decide when), you will go in to get the old log where your boss has crossed out the names of people who’s calls were returned. You will update the log by shading the names of the people that he/she has called back. You do this by highlighting OR striking through the entire line (name, message and all), clicking on “Format” and then “shading” then choosing one of the lighter shades of gray and clicking “OK” or use the strike through method. Do this on your computer to each name that your boss has crossed out, leaving alone the names of those that were not crossed off. Now the log on your screen has some names shaded, some not shaded and any new calls that came in.
    • Print this sheet and give it back to your boss. At a glance, your boss will be able to see everyone who called, including those who’s calls were returned and those that must still be called back. You will be doing this all day long.
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    Take and Be Proactive in your initiative.
    • Go into the office with pen and paper and and excuse yourself for interrupting. Say to your boss “Pardon me for interrupting, but I notice it is almost past lunch time and I was wondering if you would like me to pick up a couple of sandwiches for you (both).” This is where your pen and paper come in handy. Remember when taking sandwich orders, to ask if they want ketchup or mustard and what kind of bread, if it wasn’t made clear. Your boss will happily break out a $20 bill and you’re off to get lunch. Often times, when you take this proactive measure, if you have not had lunch, your boss will likely offer to buy yours as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation.
    • Upon returning with the bag, don’t just dump it down on the desk and leave. Find a clear spot away from any papers that may be spread out and place each person’s sandwich and drink and napkins, down onto the desk. Tell your boss that you’re putting his change with the receipt on his desk and ask if there’s anything else you can get them. They will likely thank you, say no and commence to diving into their sandwiches. Take the empty bag with you and toss it out in your trash can.
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    Keep up the positive attitude and always anticipate things to happen in advance. Does your boss do something consistently enough that you can get a good idea of what he/she will need or ask for? This is an extremely valuable skill to master if there are some constants in your boss’ job. These things may include typing up personal letters that your executive commonly asks you to do, or to make certain special plans at certain lunch places that he likes the most. phone calls he would normally ask only you to make.


  • By all means, if you do NOT type at least 50wpm, go to and practice, practice, practice. You will set yourself in a new league when you can type 70+. Keep practicing and you'll get there!
  • Brush up on your spelling and grammar skills!!! Know the differences between (there, their and they're), their are. Be able to know when to use (whose, and who's), as well as (it's and its).
  • Always follow up on meetings, airline reservations, car services, hotels, etc.
  • When walking out to grab that lunch, always keep the phone lines covered, so there is that personal spark that tells callers that someone there really does care about their business.
  • Use Microsoft Word templates to your advantage when making fliers, announcements or invitations. You will look like a PRO when you're done.


  • Don't be a lazy assistant and make your boss do your work. That's why he hired you. Once he knows that you are efficient and reliable, he can relax and do HIS job without worrying about if it's getting done.
  • Some bosses just don't know how to be bosses and can be annoying. But know the difference between a boss who is direct and a boss who is rude. The direct boss will know exactly what he wants and will be able to give clear instructions making your job easier. A rude or arrogant boss is hard to deal with because they have personality and ego problems that you will not likely be able to change, so you will need to adapt and find out what works.
  • Be nice to EVERYONE when answering the phone. You never know who will be on the other end. So if you're having a bad day, you will have to put that aside or get someone else to take over your phones until you can get your game face back on.

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Categories: Administrative Careers