Expect the first PTO meeting of the year to have the biggest turn out.
That’s the norm that happens because parents are excited for the new school year and will show up for the first meeting of the year.
But for meetings after that, the meeting turn out will drop off or maybe even take a nosedive.
How much they’ll drop off depends on what you do to keep people coming back!
This post will give you great ideas and strategies to prevent your PTO meetings from turning into ghost towns!
More parents at meetings means more parents in the loop with knowing what’s going on with the PTO and school.
And that usually translates into higher participation and volunteering!
Here’s a video on this topic.
If you prefer to read, scroll down a bit and get to it!
There’s a lot you can do to make sure people come back to your PTO meetings again and again.
But don’t feel overwhelmed by this task.
I’m going to break down the process into manageable steps for you!
One of the best ways to ensure people keep coming to PTO meetings is to be outwardly welcoming.
Get the the meeting place early so that you can get settled, make copies of the agenda, etc. before other people start arriving so that you have an opportunity to personally welcome them.
In fact, it’s a fantastic idea to get a volunteer who’s pretty outgoing to act as a door greeter.
Find someone with a dynamic personality who will be able to warmly welcome everyone.
The greeter should welcome each person and also hand them a name tag and meeting agenda.
If you’re expecting a large crowd, get multiple people to act as door greeters.
Everyone should wear name tags.
It’ll help everyone to get to know names faster.
Familiarity breeds friendliness!
Start on Time
Maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine, but it’s super important to start meetings on time.
I know sometimes, especially if a lot of people haven’t show up yet, that it’s tempting to wait for more people to show up.
But you are training the latecomers to keep coming late!
I practically guarantee that people will start (eventually!) coming on time if you start the meetings on time.
They’ll know that you’re not going to wait for them and that they’ll miss out on information.
The other thing about starting on time is that is the most respectful thing to do to honor the time of those who did show up on time.
And for the most part, your newbie parents will have shown up not just on time, but early!
If you’re starting the meeting late, that’s an indication that the group isn’t well run and can send a bad impression to first time attendees.
That in turn makes it less likely that they’ll come back for another meeting.
End in an hour or less
I’ll be blunt: Most meetings go on for way too long.
There’s almost no (good) reason why PTO meetings should be over an hour.
First, nobody’s got time for that and they’re not going to show up for that.
Tighten up your meetings to an hour or less.
If you need specific guidance on how to accomplish the one hour meeting, you’ll want to check out the meeting guide I put together specifically for PTO and PTA groups.
This picture shows a sneak peek at some of the tips covered in the guide.
Offer a treat
A full course meal won’t be an incentive for the majority of people to come to meetings, but have some sort of a treat or refreshment at each meeting.
It’ll be a nice little surprise and help round out the welcoming atmosphere!
Get a volunteer to act as Hospitality Chair and give them a small budget to work with so no one has to pay out of pocket for the treats.
Chocolate is a small, but good option for a nice little treat.
Get individually wrapped chocolate and put some on each table.
For the newbies, they’ll enjoy a small treat and it also gives some fodder for small talk.
Over to you!
What do you do to avoid your meetings turning into ghost towns? Let me hear from you in the comments!
Need even more resources?
I have a few go to resources that will help you create the right atmosphere for getting parents to show up to PTO meetings so you can avoid having low turn out that you should check out!
Again, I highly recommend the How to Run a Meeting for PTAs and PTOs e-book.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you’ll absolutely love this e-book!
There’s much more about how to run an efficient, organized meeting that draws no complaints from attendees, and encourages them to return each month!
Another great resource, especially for schools with grades 6 and lower are these Meeting Reminder Stickers.
Have teachers stick them on the kids at the end of the day for a can’t miss reminder!
Don’t waste precious time making meeting sign up sheets! Every President deserves to have this set on hand so they can just print and go. The months are already printed on each sheet, so you can literally pull it out and pass it around each month.
Two version are included – one with space to track volunteer hours and one without that tracking feature.