Looking to make your Parent Teacher Organization’s meetings the best they can be? Whether you’re a newly-elected officer or a PTO veteran here’s how to plan a successful PTO meeting and take your meetings to the next level.
Meetings only serve one purpose and most meetings fail to serve that singular purpose. Do you know the purpose of a successful meeting? To make decisions. If you focus your meetings to that one end goal, you’ll run better, more successful PTO meetings than most organizations around the globe.
The Meeting Specifics
People don’t love meetings. Typically that comes from two major complaints. The first, nothing was accomplished or the meeting wasn’t necessary. Now, we know that’s because many meetings fail to accomplish the one purpose of a meeting. The second, it’s too long. If you want to up your meeting game shoot for a 60-minute cut off. Meetings that move past the 60-minute mark start to nosedive in engagement and productivity.
Make your meetings as short and purposeful as possible. Meeting consistency is great, but meaningless meetings are not. Just after new officer elections is a great time for your group to vote on the best day of the week and time for meetings. Once you know the day and time, lock in your venue as soon as possible.
If you’re looking to boost meeting attendance a good tactic is to bundle your meeting with another school event. It’s a key tactic for successful PTO meetings. Parents are more likely to come to your meeting if they’re already at the school for another reason.
Don’t suffer procrastination. You can start planning for your next successful PTO meeting as soon as your current meeting is over. Good prep work will make your meetings smooth sailing. Before the next meeting make sure you have your meeting specifics arranged, an agenda, and you’ve notified people presenting or giving a report during the next meeting.
Successful PTO Meeting Agenda
The first step to your next successful PTO meeting is to make an agenda. Your agenda should be a list of the business items for the meeting and estimate time frames for each. Remember, we want to keep your meetings within 60 minutes, so partitioning time is key. Here’s a sample of the items that should be on your agenda.
- Meeting Start
- Approve Prior Meeting Minutes
- Guest Presentation/School Update (Principal, V. Principal, Faculty Representative)
- Treasurer Report
- Committee Reports
- Old Business Items
- New Business & Ideas
- Meeting End
Disseminate the agenda in your meeting reminders. Also, have them printed and ready for attendees to pick up at the meeting.
Presentations & Reports
For a successful PTO meeting, make sure to notify participants you expect to make meeting presentations/reports so they can prepare. Communicate specific content and time expectations to fit your meeting agenda. Make them aware of any presentation equipment available for use during the meeting (PA, projector, etc.).
Get the School on Your Side
Inform your principal and school staff of the meeting specifics so they’re ready and prepared. Invite school staff and faculty to participate in the meeting. Some staff are just waiting to be asked to give a presentation. Because it concerns their job and workplace, you may learn something new about your agenda items. Make sure to get the specifics on event setup and breakdown. And have your group clean up after the meeting. Nobody likes a slob!
Publicize Meeting Details
People can’t come to your meeting if they don’t know about it! Broadcast multiple notifications to your group. For successful PTO meetings always use multiple means of communication because people communicate differently. Examples of ways to reach your group include email, social media, text, newsletter, school calendar, announcement during school events, and notes/stickers sent home with students.
Your communication should detail the specifics of your next meeting.
- Who are you and your organization?
- What are you doing? Meeting
- When is it? Day, time, and duration
- Where is it? Location, room and parking instructions
- Why? Agenda
- Extras: Childcare options, light refreshments, etc.
You also need to send out your meeting details more than once. Consider sending out notices two weeks in advance, one week in advance, the day before, and a same-day reminder.
Successful PTO Meeting Setup
If you want your meeting to start on time and make attendees confident in your leadership, successful PTO meeting setup is key. You will need some place for attendees to sit and a few tables. Your school may provide the setup or you will need volunteers and access to chairs and tables to set up your meeting. Make sure you also have access to any audio-visual equipment necessary for the meeting.
Assign volunteers to greeter duty. This person(s) should stand at the door and greet attendees as they arrive. Greeters hand out agendas and name tags, point people to the refreshments, and inform people of the restroom and childcare locations.
It can help to make yourself a successful PTO meeting setup checklist. Here are some list items you might include:
- Tables (Presentation/Secretary/Refreshments)
- Refreshments plus cups, plates, napkins, and utensils
- Agenda hardcopies
- Bylaws hardcopies (dispute resolution)
- Name tags and pens
- AV equipment
Keep Your Successful PTO Meeting on the Clock
It’s important to keep forward momentum in your meeting. And the first step is respecting everyone’s time, even yours. That means you start on time, even if attendees are still filtering through the doors. It also means you end on time. If you promise an hour-long meeting, deliver a one hour meeting. You will keep more people interested in your meetings if they never worry about a one-hour meeting turning into a two-hour meeting.
Plan for Chitchat
Your group meeting is the perfect place for parents to visit with each other and catch up. Build social time into your schedule for before or after the meeting. That way the busy people trying to squeeze your meeting into their schedule aren’t waylaid by the social butterflies swapping the latest gossip. And be available during this time to address parent concerns.
Post Successful PTO Meeting Dispatch
There’s one last thing you need to do after your meeting to make sure it’s a success. Within 48 hours of the meeting you should send out a post-meeting dispatch. The dispatch should include the meeting minutes for review, what needs to be accomplished based on the meeting, and who is in charge of making those things happen. Reach out to confirm the responsible parties are aware of their duties.
Follow this guide on how to plan successful PTO meetings and your group will soon be running like a well-oiled machine. You’ve taken on an important role in your student’s educational success. And while it may seem daunting, with these tactics you can act with confidence.
One more thing your parent teacher organization needs is insurance. AIM Insurance offers many options to protect your PTO for things like embezzlement, general liability, even special event insurance. Your parent teacher group may not be protected by your school’s insurance policy. To learn more about AIM and how to protect your PTO visit https://aim-companies.com/pto-insurance-program/.