If you’re a new PTO president, chances are you’ve had a few moments of doubt lately, asking yourself if you can really do this job.
Sure you can.
It’s common to think a PTO president is a certain type—an outgoing, confident, high-energy dynamo. You may even be replacing someone exactly like that. But there’s no rule that says you must become that person. In fact, you’ll put a great deal of stress on yourself if you try to play to a stereotype. Our best advice: Be yourself. It might sound a little trite, but it works.
There are many successful PTO presidents who are quiet, reserved, and even shy. Leaders aren’t supposed to entertain; they are supposed to inspire, and there’s no one way to encourage and motivate people.
Often, the big bugaboo for low-key leaders is public speaking. Two things: Don’t expect you’ll be perfect the first time out and, if you do need help, we have a good article with lots of public speaking tips.
Remember to play to your strengths. Perhaps you won’t deliver a memorable speech at the first PTO meeting. But you may be a great listener who will warmly welcome new parents to the meeting. And there’s a good argument to be made that the warm welcome will do more for parent involvement than a show-stopper speech.
On a recent Facebook thread, we had some inspirational comments from leaders who shared about their nerves and uncertainty about being PTO leaders. One woman said she is a “quiet person who doesn’t like to speak in front of large groups.’’ She said English is not her native language and that the first time she spoke at a meeting, her voice was “shaking so bad that everyone noticed it.’’ But she hung in there and is currently the PTA president at a school with 1,000 students.
You can do this, too! And for a little more motivation from peers, check out our blog of inspirational quotes.