A few weeks on and I’ve had time to really absorb – and reflect on – all the elements of last month’s NW VA Conference.  The feedback on the day and since the event has been fantastic, with attendees reporting that they felt welcomed, supported, inspired, motivated and enlightened by the brilliant speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.

This is the second time I’ve organised the conference, and it was, for me, a very different experience from last year. You see, last year, there was ONE person in charge: one person organising the venue, the caterers, the goodie bags, the speakers, the photographer, the equipment, the schedules, the drinks….and that person was ME. This year, I did what I expect my clients to do, I DELEGATED. I walked the walk: I relinquished control of aspects of the event to the unquestionably capable Pam of All Things Sorted & Naomi of EVPA & NHVA , and the success of the event is a testimony to their hard work and almighty organisational skills.


And yet…on the day, I was a bit twitchy and kind of jittery.  And it’s not because I don’t trust my wonderful team; it’s because I underestimated the amount of updates, involvement and feedback I required to feel comfortable. I’d delegated, but I’d stepped a bit too far back for my own peace of mind.

As a VA, it’s easy to expect a client to let you “get on with it”, after all, you don’t need to be micro-managed and really don’t want someone breathing down your neck every time you undertake a piece of work. On the other hand, however, it’s important to be aware of the fact that it may be difficult for them to relinquish control of certain tasks completely. Determining from the outset what each other’s expectations are in terms of communication, feedback and involvement will make for a more comfortable experience all round.

When it came to the conference, I noticed minor things at the venue that made me nervous, but I also noticed that I was feeling nervous! Clearly the attendees – who all went away smiling – hadn’t noticed any of it, and it had no impact whatsoever on their enjoyment of the event. For my part, it’s an indication that, next time, yes, I need to delegate, but I also need to delegate with more self-awareness! For me, this means determining and articulating beforehand what feedback/level of communication I’ll want throughout the preparations and on the day.

The event was undoubtedly a success, and I’m quite confident that nobody was aware of any nerves I had…..but I was aware, and the experience has reinforced the valuable lesson that if you want to keep developing, improving and growing, it’s crucial that you “notice what you notice”. After all, what we pay attention to can make a huge difference in the quality of our day and ultimately our lives, and the only thing we can really control is our own feelings and how we deal with those feelings. So be mindful, be aware and be prepared to shift your focus.

I’m deeply thankful to my team for pulling together to make sure that this year’s  conference was another great event, and to the speakers and contributors who made it remarkable: Debbie of Debbie Hayes HQ Tricia of Women’s Business Network, Andrew of Andrew Collier Photography (who also took amazing photographs),  Roz of Big Thinking Online,  Mary of Mary Murtagh Media, Sara of Evermore Wellbeing & McKee Direct.

I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to all the delightfully engaging, warm and enthusiastic attendees and, of course, a massive well done to Gwen of Curlew Secretarial Solutions, winner of the NW Awards,Helen & Jane of Queen Bee PA, runners up and finalist: Sue of Chadwick’s Admin Ltd.

Once again, I’ve been  inspired by the knowledge, spirit and courage of those around me, and I’m eternally grateful for the new lessons that each experience brings: I’m sure that next year’s conference will be even better as we all continue listening to, learning from and supporting each other.

Onwards & Upwards !

Joanne x