Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Live—chances are you’ve been using some of these platforms for online get-togethers with friends, loved ones, and maybe even your parent group. Whether you’re new to videoconferencing or have been doing it for months now, there’s always room for making your virtual meetings smoother and more enjoyable.
If you haven’t met virtually yet, do a quick test meeting with a few friends to get comfortable with setting the meeting up and with the controls you might use.
When you first go live, take your time and allow a few minutes for people to join you. People sometimes need a few moments to tune in. If you notice more people join, let them in and say something like “for those just joining, we just covered _____” to ease any awkwardness.
At the start of the meeting, introduce yourself and let viewers know they can post questions in the comments or chat. You might say something like, “Feel free to ask your questions, and we’ll get to them at the end.”
Setting a cohost or moderator will let someone else help manage the meeting, including screensharing and pausing for chat comments and questions (and helping with questions at the end).
Be conversational and relaxed. To the best of your ability, behave as you would at a normal PTO or PTA meeting; you don’t want to sound scripted. People will respond better to your natural self.
Interact with attendees. At different times throughout the meeting, reintroduce yourself and welcome people who have just joined you.
Break the ice. Just as at in-person meetings, starting your meeting with a tongue-in-cheek or funny question can help get the conversation flowing. (See below for more ideas.)
When it comes time to answer questions, repeat them to your audience and don’t forget to mention who the question came from.
Document links to consider including in the meeting invitation: agenda, financials, previous months’ minutes, and other official business. Also screenshare the agenda so you can stay on track.
Ask everyone to mute themselves to cut down on background noise.
Ask everyone to use a specific view mode according to your needs: gallery view if you want everyone to see everyone, speaker view if it’s more of a lecture.
With security concerns, if your platform allows, make sure your meeting is password-protected so only invited participants can get in.
Don’t worry if something unexpected happens. If one of your kids walks in (there’s a lot of that happening these days), just roll with it. Remember that you’re broadcasting to other parents; they’ll understand!
Because people are remote, bump up your friendliness a notch to compensate for not being there in person.
Some parents attending the meeting might not want to be on camera. That’s OK! You can help them participate by suggesting that they turn off their cameras, if they want to.
Fun questions. Some suggestions: What’s the most embarrassing song you admit to liking? If your PTO had a mascot, what would it be and why? What’s the worst gift you ever got? Get more ideas from our printable conversation-starters.
Amusing or interesting virtual backgrounds. You can even set a panel of judges and vote on the best.
Participant Q&A. Think of a few “get to know you” questions and pick a different person or two to send them to in advance of the meeting. Then ask them during so other attendees can learn more about them.
Favorite binge shows. Tiger King, Schitt’s Creek, Dead to Me—everyone’s been talking about the shows they’ve been watching since last spring.
“I can’t wait to…” Ask attendees what they’re missing most about regular PTO life. You might get some surprising answers.
Theme or dress-up. Keep this one pretty simple: hats, silly socks, or oldest T-shirt are some ideas that are easy to pull together (and can get some laughs).
Pop quiz. Come up with a not-serious question or two and several answers. You could find out which Hogwarts house people most identify with or which reality show contestant parents are rooting for. Ask people to vote by hand, or by using the poll feature if you’re on Zoom.