Developing Influence and Your Career

Donnelly-Shelagh-2018-Copyright-Shelagh-DonnellyEvent planners: Here’s a sampling of Shelagh’s presentations on developing influence and one’s career, any of which she’ll happy customize for your conference or onsite training needs.

For details on any presentation, just click on the “+” sign alongside the topic title. To collapse a presentation abstract, just click “-“.


You give a lot to your career, but are you investing your energies in the right direction? Many assistants are known for a tendency toward perfectionism. Of course you want to be known for the quality of your work, but you may more effectively meet everyone’s needs if you approach this from a basis of nurturing your own resilience.

Join this recovering perfectionist for a look at prioritising resilience as a means to both high performance and career satisfaction!

  • Why the question for perfection?
  • How nurturing your resilience helps drive high performance
  • The impact of networks on your resilience.
Perception is reality, so join Shelagh for a look at how executive presence begins with your own perceptions and attitudes. Do you feel your voice is heard? Would you like to enhance your ability to assert yourself, negotiate on your own behalf, or influence others?

Perhaps your focus is on making it through meetings or interviews with increased confidence. Much of this comes down to executive presence, and how to establish one that is authentic to you.

Assistants are accustomed to advocating for their colleagues, but are not always as comfortable with self-advocacy. Career growth is impacted by your capabilities, insights and integrity, but it’s also helped along by healthy doses of self-promotion. Plan to look at exhibiting your best traits through your communication style, including a focus on body language.


  • Eight steps for effective self-promotion
  • How to enhance your visibility and recognition of your contributions
  • Negotiating like an executive
  • While your organisation may have a good orientation program, it’s likely that you as an assistant have found yourself the point person when it comes to helping newcomers settle in to the office. If you’re meeting these needs without structure or planning, this impacts your productivity. This can create uncertainty for a new colleague, and frustration for both of you.

    Ensuring your new colleagues feel welcome and well grounded supports their effectiveness. Planning and documenting onboarding practices also represents a good return on investments (ROI) of time and expertise in recruitment efforts. Join Shelagh to explore the elements of a good onboarding program, including preboarding, microlearning and more.

    Since it’s a rare assistant who doesn’t welcome at least one or two new principals (bosses) over the course of a career, we’ll also focus on why and how you should be prepared to onboard a new principal.

    • Adding value through onboarding (induction)
    • Elements of the onboarding process
    • Onboarding your principal (boss)
    If you’ve ever found yourself playing catch up in the office or struggling to get out the door at a reasonable hour, this interactive session will help you work smart and not just hard. You're no doubt highly committed, but are you proactively managing your time and priorities?

    Sometimes it's an issue of workload. Perhaps you support multiple committees, supervise challenging colleagues, or find yourself approaching burnout. When you have a lot on your plate, it can be easy to slip into a reactive mode.

    Be prepared to assess the difference between being busy and being productive, and to consider organizational strategies that support efficiencies. Shelagh will also discuss how use of an annual calendar and work plan can increase your capacity to be proactive, and also have a positive impact for your colleagues.

    • Assess whether you’re making the best use of your time in the office
    • Learn how to recognize a career plateau that hinders productivity
    • Identify practical steps to help shift from a reactive to proactive mode
    • Tips on organizational practices to increase efficiencies
    Debate has followed a prominent business publication's article about the “vanishing” executive assistant, and we continue to witness the accelerated rise of artificial intelligence (AI). In the midst of all this, one thing is for certain: assistants of all job titles need to be able to adapt to and manage change.

    While change is something assistants routinely handle, it’s increasingly unfolding on different levels. Technology, demographics and other factors are driving changes that can be developmental, disruptive or transformational in nature. Join Shelagh for a look at how to adapt and not only cope, but thrive in times of change.


  • Learn about developmental, disruptive and transformational change
  • Explore how to nurture your resilience through self-care
  • How to build confidence and convey value through self-management
  • The best assistants are recognized as extensions of their executives. They’re well informed and acquit themselves with confidence. Despite this, even C-level assistants sometimes hesitate or experience discomfort when asked to speak in front of a group.

    Whether it's a planned presentation or a request to provide a project or event update during a meeting, each such occasion represents an opportunity to enhance your reputation and your capacity to influence decision making. Shelagh studied speech arts and was winning public speaking competitions at the age of 13, and shares the strategies that supported her success in interview situations and as an EA.

    Focused preparation goes a long way, and this session will position you to tackle speaking opportunities with greater skill and confidence. You'll come away with Shelagh's step-by-step process to prepare for presentation success.

    • Step-by-step tips on preparing and polishing a presentation
    • Flipping your perspective to sharpen your presentation skills
    • Proactive strategies to ease unwanted nerves
    • Principles you can also apply to speaking confidently at meetings and interviews
    This interactive session will challenge you to assess the impact your writing skills have on your career prospects. Whether you’re comfortable in your current role or want to enhance prospects for promotion, you’ll benefit by considering what your business writing says about your credibility, currency and professionalism.

    Join Shelagh to enhance your ability to write for multiple audiences and demographics, with concise content that’s underpinned by good grammar, proper punctuation and organizational knowledge. Even the best assistants will benefit from revisiting how to structure business communications with clarity and logic. We’ll also focus on your choice of words, and how your writing can either convey or toss away power and influence.

    Through this session, you’ll reassess your writing skills from the perspectives of executives and other colleagues as well as clients and recruiters. In the process, you’ll gain insights on how to ensure your written communications yield positive reputational impacts for you and for your employer.

    • Writing with your audiences in mind
    • Be concise: write so that people will read your work
    • How to structure your communications with clarity and logic
    • How to ensure your grammar and language enhance, not diminish, your reputation
    If you’ve shunned social media or stayed on its sidelines, you’re in good company. What you may not realize is just how relevant some channels can be to your brand and your career.

    Social media can be the contemporary networking equivalent of a golf club membership, as you can make mutually beneficial connections. LinkedIn can serve as your online CV – complete with endorsements and recommendations. If you choose, social media can also serve as a vehicle for professional development.

    Join Shelagh for an interactive look at local, national and international networks that can become valued resources. You’ll learn how to tap in to social media as a networking mechanism and which resources can be relevant for your professional development. If you’ve contemplated social media but have reservations about how to get going, we’ll cover how to establish accounts. By the end of this session, you’ll be able to make better informed decisions about whether any of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have a place in your career.

    • Learn how social media can influence your career prospects
    • Explore social media in the context of professional development
    • Reassess whether or not some channels have a place in your professional life
    • Learn the core steps of setting up LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts
    The best assistants are extensions of their principals (bosses). You're well positioned to represent the brand - your office, department or division and the organization itself - and build positive, authentic perceptions. External networks and professional associations represent additional opportunities to add value by serving as a brand ambassador.

    These associations also represent opportunities to expose yourself to new people, ideas and best practices while nurturing your resilience. That's critical in a career where you're constantly supporting others' success.

    In this session, we’ll look at networking principles, how to establish internal and external networks, and the personal and professional benefits of developing international networks through technology.

    Plan to look at a couple of case studies, as Shelagh helped professionalize a national network of counterparts who work in the same sector but may be situated up to thousands of kilometers/miles apart from one another. Shelagh will provide an overview of the evolution and structure of this professional association, and how technology plays a role in its success.

    She'll also identify strategies on how to make the business case, launch and nurture your own internal network if your employer isn't already tapping into such a resource. Shelagh has launched two internal networks, one in 2006 and another in 2012, and both are still going strong.

    We’ll wrap up by pushing the boundaries beyond what you might consider a typical network. With technology, we can establish and nurture digital networks across the globe. This presents opportunities to expose yourself to different cultures, practices and people, all of which enhance your CQ/cultural intelligence. At the same time, you'll be building a network of supportive contacts who share practices and business travel insights.

      • Networks as a means of adding value to your employer while enhancing your resilience and cultural intelligence (CQ)
      • The benefits of formalizing networks with sector or other peers across the city, region or country
      • How to make the business case for an internal network, and then launch it
      • Digital networks: exploring International networks of assistants on social media

    To have Shelagh contact you for a discussion of your needs, click here

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    Shall we talk? To discuss your plans and needs, drop an email to or click here to send an online request.

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