If you are a new PTO president, chances are you may feel a little anxious about the first meeting of the school year. So we asked veteran PTO leaders from our Facebook community to offer some advice and here’s what they had to say:

1. Get to know volunteers and committee chairs if possible before the first meeting. Check in on email or have an informal get together during the summer break. You will be more comfortable with folks you know.

2. Remember other people are probably nervous, too. A committee chair with a one-minute update on the agenda may be just as anxious as the PTO president who must run the entire meeting.

3. Greet people as they arrive. This does two things. First, it goes a long way in making your attendees feel comfortable and welcome. Second, it helps you. As you start the meeting, you will be looking out at people you have just greeted, not a group of total strangers.

4. A good agenda is key. Write an agenda ahead of time with feedback from other board members on topics to cover. Keep it near you while you run the meeting to help you stay on track. Try printing it in a large font so you can easily read it if you are standing up.

5. Keep the meeting interactive. Start by introducing your board and asking them to share a little about their responsibilities. Ask committee chairs to give a (very) quick rundown on their plans. Throughout the meeting, ask attendees if they have questions.

6. Keep the atmosphere casual. Rather than doing a formal presentation at a podium, try arranging the seating around a table or tables, or even try placing chairs in a circle.  Serve refreshments to add to the comfortable vibe.

7. Remember, it will get easier! But as one Facebook friend recommended, for your first time out, you might want to wear a shirt that hides the sweat!

Thanks to all our Facebook friends who offered such great tips!

For more resources on meetings and public speaking, check out these stories:

Public Speaking: Overcoming the Jitters

My First Meeting: Presidents Remember 

Make Your First Meeting Count