Prepare for Your First Meeting

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If you’re like most groups, you’ll get the biggest crowd of the year at the first meeting. Here's how to make it the best it can be.


Get the Word Out

Start by publicizing the meeting in a variety of ways, and letting parents know that everyone is welcome to attend. Pin meeting dates and times at the top of your  website and social media. Put the date and time on the school sign. Post yard signs where drivers will see them at school drop-off and pickup. Send students home from school wearing meeting reminder stickers. Use photos or clip art from our Clip Art Gallery to create attention-getting emails and Facebook posts. You can also download our meeting announcement flyers, which are available in English and Spanish.

Promote your PTO meetings with Canva templates (in English and Spanish)

Set the Agenda

No one likes long meetings. The first step to running your meeting efficiently is creating an agenda that will keep the group focused. Post the agenda online and print copies to hand to people as they arrive. If a discussion gets derailed, calmly remind participants of the need to stick to the agenda. If someone wants to talk about something that’s not on the agenda, invite her to bring it up when you reach the “new business” portion of the meeting.

Meeting agenda sample

Be Welcoming

Your first meeting of the school year is your chance to make a good first impression on many parents. Designate someone to greet each parent as she arrives. Have board members wear name tags and offer them to attendees. Keep conversation positive, and encourage people to share new ideas. 

Break the Ice

Meetings are for conducting important business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun, too! It’s a good idea to open your meeting with a fun activity or an icebreaker to help attendees interact and relax. To get a discussion started, try our conversation-starter questions or play a simple game like icebreaker bingo. These casual interactions make it easier for people to meet one another and find out what they have in common.

Communicate Clearly

It’s important to make sure people joining from a video conferencing platform or in person in all parts of the room can hear the proceedings, but it’s also important to make sure they can understand what they hear. Avoid using educational jargon. If you must use it, explain what each term means. When talking about your group’s previous activities, don’t assume that everyone knows as much as you do. Take the time to explain to new parents that the fun fair is in fall and bingo night is in spring, for example.

Invite People To Help

Take advantage of the energy and enthusiasm at the start of the school year. Thank parents for attending your first meeting and tell them when the group will meet again. Circulate a signup sheet or a volunteer interest form so you can follow up about opportunities to get involved at school. Also, make sure parents know how to get in touch with your PTO’s leaders if they have any ideas, questions, or comments.

Volunteer Surveys

Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly.

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