Whether you are a seasoned pro or a public speaking newbie, running your first PTA meeting can be a nerve-wracking experience. There’s no need to worry, though - PTAsocial has you covered with our PTA Meeting Pro Tips and Scripts.
From how to start the meeting to concluding it on time, this article will help boost your confidence and prepare you to run your first (and second...third...fourth...) PTA meeting effectively.
Pro Tip #1: Let people know that you respect their time
Getting people in the door is only part of the challenge when it comes to PTA meetings. Getting people to come back time and time again is key. There are many ways to increase attendance, but one easy way is to let attendees know the following details at the start of every meeting:
- Logistics - open bathrooms, where babysitting locations are, after meeting events, etc.
- The length of the meeting
- The agenda - provide a copy
Let attendees know that you respect their time and will stick to the agenda by making an announcement like the following at the start of the meeting:
“Thank you for attending this PTA meeting. We know your time is valuable and will respect that by sticking to the agenda and making sure that our meeting ends by 7:30. If off-topic concerns or questions are brought up, please know that they are important to us but that we will address those afterwards or at our next meeting so that we can allow parents to get home on time.”
Pro Tip #2: Run Inclusive Meetings
Introductions are a big part of making sure your meetings are inclusive. While some volunteers will probably be known by reputation (!) others may be virtually unknown.
Be sure to introduce each PTA officer and give a little bit of personal information about them. This information can serve as a reference point for casual conversation starters for those parents who want to reach out to officers or get involved.
Here are some ideas on how to share information in a lighthearted and fun way:
“This is our Treasurer, Jennifer Burns. During the day you’ll find her taking blood pressure as a nurse but at night you’ll find her chauffeuring her 2 children - a 2nd grader named, Blair, and Brandon, her 7th grader to dance and karate. During the weekend, you’ll find her channeling her inner Julia Child while she whips up a vegan meal for her family and friends.”
“Mario Rules is this year’s PTA Vice-President. Most of you have seen him walking around in his police uniform on career days or if you….unfortunately got pulled over for speeding. He would like to apologize for that and he asks that you forgive him. When not working he loves running and doing cross fit. He has a kindergartner and a 5th grader here this year.”
Make sure each officer wears a sticker with an easy-to-read name tag and have name tags available for meeting attendees as well. These name tags will come in handy if you hold a social time directly after the meeting to help members get to know one another less formally.
Make No Assumptions
Just because you have your PTA president hat on today doesn’t mean that you need to be the dominant voice of the meeting.
Most officers have usually been a part of the PTA for at least a short while before stepping up to their new responsibility and some are old hands at how things work.
However, newbies to the group may be brand new to a PTA. They probably won’t know much about how the PTA is run or what events your school usually holds.
If they feel out of the loop, your PTA is in danger of coming across like a clique – something that spells disaster for getting new volunteers on board.
So don’t assume that attendees know how things work.
A great president controls the direction and pace of the meeting, while encouraging all members to have their say and ask questions. To do this, let the attendees know when it is time for them to give input or provide feedback. Make it clear so that there is no guessing involved.
“Now is the time for attendees to provide suggestions for the fall fundraiser. We are just writing down ideas now and will vote on this next month. Please raise your hand if you have an idea. Any and all ideas are welcome; the more the better.”
Pro Tip #3: Run Organized and Focused Meetings
General meeting covering loads of topics? Or focusing on something specific? Either way, it is crucial to make sure you cover what you say you will.
It's a good idea to allocate a certain number of minutes to each topic and appoint a timekeeper to keep things moving. (Remember your opening statement regarding time from #1.)
If multiple conversations start up in parallel, you need to command attention – with a smile. You don’t want to come across as condescending or rude. A firm and polite request to wrap up side conversations or move the discussion back onto the right topic is usually all that’s needed to get things back on track.
“We have a few different conversations going on and we need to get back on track. Let’s spend 5 more minutes discussing ideas for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon and then we will wrap up the meeting.”
Pro Tip #4: Engage in these First PTA Meeting Best Practices
Make group decisions
Making decisions is a tricky part of being a PTA officer. You can’t please everyone and oftentimes there will be someone that opposes your plan and may even create a bit of drama.
To help alleviate this, make sure you have the majority support of the committee. Sticking by the outcome of any vote or decision sends the message that you are fair and that the decisions are not made by one person only.
Clarify outcomes and action items
It’s easy to sit and discuss what needs doing, but it’s essential that at the end of the meeting, everyone knows what they are responsible for, and how and when they should report back.
Make sure the minutes are written up and distributed quickly, with clear action items. Let attendees know when and how minutes from the meeting will be distributed - your PTA website and communication app are great for this.
As a side note, announce that meeting minutes are available to all parents and teachers, not just the ones in attendance. This way, you are clarifying that everyone can be in the loop, if they decide to be.
You’ve (totally) got this
Using our tips, running your first PTA meeting should be a lot less scary!
How did it go? Rate your first meeting on a 1-10 scale and let us know what you will change or keep the same at your next meeting. Share your feedback with us via email, Twitter, Facebook or by using the comment box below.
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