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The Top AI Skills Every Executive Assistant Needs

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on everyone’s front burner. The data shows that the use of AI has exploded – but here’s the real statistic to pay attention to: in a recent survey, 90% of businesses said that they are investing in AI in some manner.

AI will not replace executive assistants; executives and leaders still need (and want!) real people they can trust, who care about their success, and who ultimately have their back.

But as AI becomes integrated into our everyday lives, it’s going to become increasingly important for executive assistants to know:

  1. How AI works
  2. How to effectively use it
  3. How to choose between the many AI tools out there

Let’s break it down.

1. Know How AI Works (And How It Doesn’t)

Executive assistants are excellent at caring, taking initiative, and being proactive. AI simply can’t replace or duplicate these, they require a real human with years of experience and high emotional intelligence.

But today’s EAs need to understand how to use AI, and that starts with knowing what it is and isn’t.

AI systems consume massive amounts of data to analyze and learn from it. When humans interact with AI through apps or chat systems, AI gives back results that best fit the pattern it understands you need.

Another way of looking at it is that AI often returns helpful results, but not perfect results. For example, see what happened when our executive assistants challenged ChatGPT.

Understanding how AI works matters because that will also help you understand how it isn’t intended to work. AI can increase your productivity, but it is not meant to remove you – the human being – from the equation.

It’s also important to know that AI doesn’t always return what you need.

It might give you copy with the wrong tone of voice, or a schedule that doesn’t fit what your executive prefers. It may even provide incorrect information that your own research negates.

Getting good at prompts helps with some of this (and we’ll talk about that in a bit), but AI is still learning and sometimes returns results that must be adjusted. AI is only as smart as the user, both in the input and determining the value of the output.

Because AI is increasingly woven into nearly every app (and more every day), you’re already using AI whether you realize it or not. It’s one of the reasons it’s important to know how AI works and how to evaluate the results.

Read more: Boldly’s Top Executive Assistants Weigh In On AI Tools

2. Know How To Write Effective AI Prompts

A great manager knows how to direct her team effectively to get maximum productivity. It’s the same with AI and prompts. Executive assistants need to know how to write effective AI prompts to get the best outputs from AI tools.

Read more: 50 Powerful ChatGPT Prompts For Executive Assistants To Boost Productivity

At its most basic, a prompt is simply telling AI what you want it to do. The results AI gives you are as precise as the prompt you gave it.

That means you need to:

  1. Be clear and specific. Communicate what you want AI to do in clear and specific terms. If you want AI to include or consider something in its results, be sure to let it know.
  2. Provide context. Help AI understand the context of what you’re asking it to do. That might mean providing background (e.g. “we don’t like meetings scheduled during the lunch hour”), tone, or other details.
  3. Use a structured format. The more complicated your instructions for AI, the more you need to use orderly structures like headings and lists. Think about what you want AI to do and break it down into smaller, logically ordered requests.
  4. Avoid making assumptions. The language we use and the way we ask questions can be filled with assumptions. It takes practice, but if you can provide neutral language, AI will give you better results. Metaphors, cultural language, and inside jargon are all based on assumptions and can reduce accurate results.

There are similarities to creating a prompt for AI in how you instruct a person to do a task. But a human being understands culture, tone, and unspoken cues that you take for granted. They have history with what you’ve asked in the past. AI doesn’t know those things.

The trick is to remember that unlike a human, AI can’t perfectly infer what you want.

That means that prompts have to be specific, that you have to color around the edges of the specific task with more information than you might be used to providing when dealing with actual people.

3. Use The Right AI Tools

Knowing how to use ChatGPT as an executive assistant is almost a requirement.

But that’s not the only AI tool out there, nor is it necessarily the best for you.

Assessing AI tools isn’t easy. There are more options every day, from pure chat-driven tools (like ChatGPT) to project and management tools that are adding AI into their everyday functions somewhere in the background.

With AI being added to nearly every app or tool, it’s impossible to highlight all of them and tell you which ones you should use.

There’s actually a five-step process to make it easy for you to know what’s best for you.

Five Questions To Choose The Right AI Tools

Ask yourself these basic questions when trying out any AI tool:

  • What are your privacy concerns? AI is a learning tool. That means some of the systems that you access are using your data to teach AI. If you’re dealing with proprietary information you may not want it ending up in a repository somewhere. Depending on the results you need, be careful about copyright and plagiarism issues.
  • What are your goals? If AI isn’t making you more efficient at your job, don’t use it. The last thing you need is another tool to learn, more output to sort. If you want to automate repetitive tasks, analyze information, or simplify decision-making, be sure your AI is actually doing that for you. Otherwise, you may be wasting time with the tool.
  • What is the tool’s compatibility? Does the AI tool work well with the tools and systems you’re already using, or does it add another layer of complexity? You may be using tools right now that have integrated (or will be integrating) AI into their core functions. Do some research and find out if that’s the case. And let’s not forget how compatible it is with you. That is, is the user interface
  • How accurate are the outputs? If it seems AI is checking all the boxes, make sure the output is actually valuable, accurate, and trustworthy. How much work does it take to get the output you want? Some AI tools do a better job than others.
  • Is my client comfortable with me using this? This question may be the most important — even if a tool checks all the other boxes, your client still has the final say. Be sure to check with them before jumping on a new AI tool.

A tool that doesn’t improve efficiency and effectiveness isn’t a tool. It’s an anchor.

The best AI tool for executive assistants will vary, depending on who you ask. That’s because not all EAs work the same way or need the same output.

Test the AI tools yourself to see if it’s a good fit for how you work. In a way, AI is your assistant. If it’s not helping you, look for an AI tool that does.

About the author Katie Hill is a Content Writer at Boldly, which offers Premium Subscription Staffing for demanding executives and founders. When she isn't writing about remote work or productivity, she can be found adventuring in Colorado's backcountry.

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