We know you put lots of energy into boosting meeting attendance, and many of you feel it’s an uphill battle. But instead of feeling frustrated about getting parents in the door, how about taking the meeting to them?

These days, there are many different options, from Facebook to live-streaming Web-based apps, that groups can use to deliver their meeting content to parents who are at home or work. These approaches can really help leaders reach a broader audience and help make parents who just can’t get to the school feel they are part of the community. 

And, speaking of community, we asked ours to share tips on how they are creating virtual meetings. Here’s what we found out.

Web Conferencing and Live-Streaming Apps
Lots of groups are now using meeting apps, like AnyMeeting.com, GoToMeeting.com, or Microsoft’s Skype (to mention a few) that can be used at meetings to connect with parents who can’t physically be there. (To see a more in-depth list, one resource is the Top Web Conferencing Software list from Capterrra.com)

These programs offer different features and pricing, so it’s important to identify your group’s needs and know your spending limit. Just some of the features to think about: sharing visuals (the agenda) while broadcasting, notifying parents about a meeting, and recording your broadcast. 

Some apps come with pricing tiers. The entry-level tier sounds great cost wise; it may even be free. But when you look at the details you may find that tier only supports a handful of users. 

Also be prepared to do a little adjustments by either changing the app or equipment you may need. For example, Jill Triana, president of the Springfield Elementary Parent Teacher Alliance in Quakertown, Penn., says her group has been using AnyMeeting.com since late last year. Initially, parents from home reported that they had trouble hearing some meeting attendees. Triani says the group invested in a higher quality microphone and that seemed to do the trick. “Our first meeting of the year went off without a hitch,” Triani adds. 

Social Channels
If you don’t want to live broadcast, you’ll find Facebook and Twitter can help you promote and deliver meeting content that parents can view or read on their own time.  One community member said her group used Facebook last winter when the meeting was snowed out a few times. The group hung out on Facebook and answered questions live as parents posted them. Another community member does a similar Facebook meeting that includes time with the principal, who answers parent questions as they are posted. 

Other options include posting photos and summaries of discussions after a meeting concludes. One community member said she posts links on social channels to video summaries of meetings that are posted on the group’s website. 

A Final Tip
One community member didn’t offer a technology solution, but had a fun idea to literally take the meeting to the parents. She noted that her PTA holds a monthly fundraiser at a local skating rink, and she’s suggested to the board that they either set up an information table at the skating rink or actually hold a mini meeting. Many parents simply sit while their kids skate. “Why not take advantage of that?” this community member says.