It might only be July, but chances are that your group has at least started thinking about its first meeting. And it’s definitely an important one to think about because if your PTO is like most, it’ll be the most attended meeting of the year. Here’s what I recommend to make sure your meeting goes smoothly—and to encourage folks to attend more of them throughout the year.

Let parents know. Be sure to let parents know about your meeting in a variety of ways, and that everyone is welcome to attend. During the weeks leading up to school starting, your social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are a good way to get the word out.

Be welcoming. Your first meeting is a great chance to make a good impression on many parents. Appoint a “meeting greeter” to do just that as people arrive. Have board members wear name tags and offer them to attendees. Keep conversation positive, and encourage people to share new ideas. 

Keep it light. For the purpose of making sure a meeting doesn’t run too long, it’s a good idea to have an agenda. That said, try not to make your first meeting too business-heavy. The beginning of the year is the wrong time to engage in a long debate on the merits of various fundraisers or the best way to handle teacher grants.

Add some fun. Making your first meeting fun can do a lot to let potential new volunteers know what their experience in your group would be like. I love these new “human bingo” sheets that get people to open up about things they have in common.

Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly