Whether you're kicking off a fundraiser, sharing information with members or making group decisions, how you run a PTA meeting is key to its success. Each meeting should have a specific purpose and takeaway message or follow-up action so you aren't wasting anyone's time. Get organized for your next PTA meeting to increase participation and accomplish your goal.

Review Bylaws

The bylaws govern how you run your PTA meeting. Local groups can create their own bylaws, but they need to align with the state PTA and National PTA bylaws. Your group already should have bylaws in place that cover meeting dates, announcements about meetings, elections, quorums, who can set meetings and requirements for specific types of meetings, such as committee meetings versus general membership meetings. Review the bylaws your PTA has in place before you plan and schedule your meetings to ensure you follow those key guidelines.

Plan the Agenda

Your PTA meeting should have a specific purpose to use the time efficiently. The meeting agenda often is dictated by the school calendar and upcoming events. PTA groups often focus on fundraising efforts and supporting schoolwide events, such as seasonal classroom parties, school picture day and field day events. These events take weeks or months of planning. Education issues relevant to parents, such as the curriculum, assessments and school policies, also are potential meeting topics. Guest speakers can inform members about those topics. The principal might speak to the group about standardized test scores or the administrator in charge of curriculum might be on hand to answer questions, for example. If you are planning a new fundraiser, you might ask a representative from the fundraising company to explain the products and program. Create an agenda that breaks down the purpose of the meeting. The agenda also helps keep you on track at the actual meeting. If you notice the meeting veers too far away from the agenda, gently guide the meeting participants back on track so the meeting doesn't run too long.

Spread the Word

An effective PTA meeting has all necessary members present, which often is a challenge due to busy schedules. If you're holding an executive committee meeting, your guest list is short and you can contact each person to find a time when everyone is available. For general membership meetings, the schedule can be more challenging. Survey your PTA members to identify the time when the largest number of people are available. Evenings tend to work best since many parents work during the day, but you may have some conflict with sports practices and other events. Advertising and sending out reminders as the date gets closer is key to increasing attendance. You might hold the meetings the first Thursday of every month, but many parents will forget or overlook the meetings. Post signs in prominent places where parents gather in the school. Send home notes with the students. Send out an email to the PTA email list the day before.

Take Charge

A large group together easily can get off-topic. As the leader of a PTA meeting, your main job is to take charge and keep the discussion on track. You likely won't do a lot of the speaking yourself, but you will introduce the new topics and keep the group moving through the agenda. Refer to your bylaws when it comes to calling the meeting to order. Ask that participants follow established procedures for sharing information. Use a timer if necessary to keep a discussion about a certain topic under control. If you have members who come up with other question or tend to wander off-topic, put out pads of sticky notes on the tables. Participants can write down questions or off-topic discussions and give them to you at the end. You can later answer those questions or address the other issues.