wikiHow to Be an Organization's Secretary

Whether you are talking about a student council, political group or special task force, all organizations require a secretary. The secretary is arguably the most important officer as s/he is responsible for organizing, assimilating and disseminating information within and without the organization. They need to be organized, hard working, intelligent, and possess excellent writing skills.


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    Decide that this is the right job for you. Some people think that it is easier to be secretary than treasurer or president, but many meeting veterans will tell you that the secretary's job is much more difficult.
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    Meet with the outgoing secretary if possible. Have him or her give you the previous meetings' minutes, correspondences, reports, administrative orders, etc.. With any luck, these will already be well organized and ready for you to take them over; if not, read the next step.
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    Get a filing cabinet or a briefcase. These should be provided by your organization, but if they are not, buying used is a good first step and an excellent way to reduce unnecessary expenses on your part or on the part of your organization. There are many filing systems that can be employed for administrative documents like meeting minutes, by-laws and so on; read up on these and determine which is the easiest to follow and the cheapest to implement, and stick to that system. If you received the files in a disorganized mess, you don't want to leave them that way for the next secretary when your tenure is completed.
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    Learn that good organizational skills make a good secretary. If your organization's office is not well organized, this is something that should be addressed right away. Use the office to store all relevant documentation and try to employ the same filing system that you have used on your filing cabinet.
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    Go from small to big when organizing files and documents. Begin by filing all relevant documentation into a filing cabinet or briefcase, and then organize the entire office and organization using the same system, but on a larger scale. That will make the office very user friendly and afford a lot of peace of mind to you and your successor.
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    Develop good contacts and use them wisely. A friendly, professional demeanor is very important to an organization's secretary. You will learn very rapidly that most secretaries rely on an intricate network of friends and contacts to conduct day-to-day business.


  • By taking good meeting minutes and providing these in a timely fashion (a one hour meeting should have 1-2 pages of minutes maximum, and these should be submitted to the group for feedback within 5 business days) ensures that members of the organization are on the 'same page' and able to take more effective action sooner.
  • Do not use your company or organization's resources (i.e.: office supplies, email server, laptop, etc) for personal activities. Even if you are a volunteer, the organization does not 'owe' you anything, and this is in extremely bad taste.
  • Always behave in a seemly, professional manner.
  • These guidelines follow Robert's "Rules of Order", one of the best known secretarial manuals to date. It is advisable that you seek out this valuable resources; much of it is published on the web for free.
  • Always have a plan B when organizing an event, as you never know what will happen. This is particularly important if you are catering an event or expecting speakers and/or entertainment to show up. There is nothing worse than attending an event and having a colossal screw-up occur. If catering isn't going to show, you'd better make sure that you've contacted the local pizzeria ahead of time and given them a heads up. (note: the local pizzeria should probably be among your list of contacts, too).
  • Plan ahead. It is the role of the secretary to coordinate company/organization events. You simply cannot run an event on a last-minute schedule. If you need to plan something last-minute, making the event less formal can ease the pressure for your guests and for yourself.
  • Keep members informed of activities, events, and plans and ensure that the public is aware of upcoming events.
  • One of the most important functions a secretary serves is communicating with its members and the general public.
  • Remember when you are trying to organize meetings and events that organizing other people can be difficult at best.
  • A secretary makes sure that everyone knows when a certain meeting is held. They also make sure that everyone is at the meeting. They also type up important dates for the organization or business.
  • Keep files, documents, mail, and money in a safe place!

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Categories: Administrative Careers