How to Run a PTA or PTO Meeting
It's that time again! Kids and parents (well, parents at least) are getting excited about a new school year. Starting the year off right can make all the difference in how the year goes. Take advantage of this beginning-of-the-year enthusiasm and plan your first PTA/PTO meeting to grab new members and excite existing ones. As the year goes on, your numbers may dwindle so now is the time to show your members how organized and enthusiastic you are about your club and your school. Planning an effective meeting is essential to your club's success and easy-to-do with a few simple tips.
Before the Meeting
- Poll members to find the most convenient time to hold monthly meetings. You want to make them accessible to as many members as possible. Once you agree upon a meeting date and time, try to stick with that every month. For example, meet on the third Thursday of every month in the evening.
- Find a location that works. Sometimes parents can get intimidated by coming to the school. Depending on your numbers, consider a restaurant or coffee shop. Plan on having occasional off-site meetings depending on the results of your earlier poll.
- Review your bylaws. It's always good to have the more important points of your bylaws fresh in your mind in case you come against a problem or issue. Take a copy of the bylaws to the meeting for quick reference. If there's ever a question, you can table it for next time in order to check the bylaws.
- State the purpose of the meetings and come up with a succinct agenda to publish ahead of time and hand out at the meetings. This will help your meeting stay focused and on-time.
- Promote the meeting on your website, in your newsletter, take-home flyer, Facebook, Twitter, and a sign on the school's marquee. The more people you can reach, the better your attendance.
- Arrive early to arrange seating, brew coffee, set up refeshments, etc.
- Assign a board member to greet members as they come in. It's sometimes daunting coming into a big room of parents who are friends so a greeter can introduce herself/himself and pass out agendas.
During the Meeting
- Have a sign-up sheet to record attendance. Keep this in your PTA/PTO files for future reference.
- Always introduce board members and share something personal so new attendees can put a name with a face.
- Plan a quick ice-breaker to make everyone comfortable. You'll most likely always have a few newcomers so an ice-breaker is appreciated.
- If you have a guest speaker let him/her go first--that way the speaker doesn't have to sit through business and can leave once they're done.
- Begin by going over and approving the minutes from the previous meeting. This won't take long if the board has checked them over prior. Provide several copies for members to look over. Also, keep minutes in exact order to prove things are done in accordance with the bylaws and keep them filed away for future board us.
- As the leader, keep the meeting on time and on track. Meetings should not last more than an hour. Anything over that amount can be tabled for the following month's meeting. Always start and end on time.
- Allow plenty of time for input from the entire group--don't let one individual monopolize the conversation.
- Put a "New Business" section in the agenda so members can bring forth new ideas.
After the Meeting
- Build in social time after the meeting for those who want to continue discussing something or just to check-in with friends.
- Have a plan for new members--appoint a liaison who can give more in-depth information about committees and events and can follow-up with new members if they have questions.
- Share results of your meeting via your website, social media and emails.
- Thank those who attended!
An effective PTA/PTO meeting can make all the difference in the climate of your club, your participation, and your effectiveness. Take advantage of the increased attendance you'll have these first few months of school and grab your members' attention with a well-run meeting.