How to write a ROCK STAR agenda for your PTA/PTO meeting and SHINE!
Are you nervous about being the person in charge at your Parent Teacher Group meetings? Do you feel like you aren’t quite sure if you are doing a thorough job writing your monthly meeting agendas? Do you even know what you should be doing to prepare for your meetings? Are you worrying about leaving out important discussion topics? Is your fear of all of this responsibility holding you back from accepting an officer position of President in the first place?
Leading a meeting with a group of professionals and peers can be very intimidating, for anyone! It may be one of the scariest parts of accepting the “job”! All of those eyes and ears on you? Sounds fun and relaxing, right? After all, public speaking is one of the most widely reported fears. It is only normal to have a heart and head full of questions and uncertainties.
I was nervous too!
I remember vividly my very first meeting as President in my Parent Teacher Group (PTG), I was SUPER nervous. In fact, I was SO nervous that my hands were shaking, literally shaking…. Does that happen to you too?
It wasn’t actually speaking to a group of people that gave me the shakes. I have never minded public speaking that much, honestly. Am I weird?
The part that was giving me heart palpitations was the prospect of making a mistake. I worried about leaving out important details. I questioned that I would be misinterpreted, and even judged. What if I said something that offended a teacher, a staff member, a parent, or even THE PRINCIPAL? What if I made a dumb joke that no one appreciated or understood? I have a habit of cracking jokes when I’m in tense situations..making those situations even more interesting! I was nervous that I was going to screw up and everyone would see that I don’t have it together. AT ALL!
It will get easier
When I had some time to reflect on those first few meetings, I felt silly for worrying so much. I later realized that it wasn’t really that big of a deal. It was a PTG meeting, after all, and not a job interview or other event that could change the course of my life. Let’s keep things in perspective, right? I realized that almost everyone in that room was relieved that I was the one leading the meeting…and not them.
From that point on, it got easier.
It will get easier for you, I really believe that. I want you to believe it as well!
One of the essential parts of making my job easier every month wasn’t gaining confidence and experience (I mean, those things helped). What really helped me was having a fully developed agenda that kept me on task and feeling prepared, from the start.
Any skilled public speaker or teacher will surely confirm that being prepared is the key to success. A huge part of preparedness is to actually prepare, you know…like in ADVANCE! 🙂 Slapping together an agenda 30 minutes before the meeting will just not cut it and almost certainly will leave you open for lots of slip-ups and possibly embarrassing mistakes.
I would like to share with you some key points that are super valuable tools you can use each month for creating a ROCK STAR agenda.
How to write a ROCK STAR agenda for your PTG meeting and SHINE!
1. Don’t wait until the very last minute!
For the first few months, you may need to begin working on your agenda as early as two weeks in advance. This way, you will have plenty of time to compile necessary materials. You will also have time to follow-up on those notes you made for yourself at the last meeting. These are typically all of the things that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Starting early allows for enough time to complete all these (potentially forgotten) important tasks.
2. Look to the past.
One of the BEST ways to learn is to look back to see what others did before you. With that in mind, find last year’s agenda for the same month, or even that month’s agenda for the last few years. I have personally kept a binder to file these documents. But, if you don’t have those items at your fingertips, check with the former President or Secretary to see if they can share any documents with you.
Once you’ve gotten your hands on past agendas, read through them to see if there are any seasonal topics you should to include in yours. Perhaps there are ongoing events that are scheduled at your school each year. Use these important tools that should be easily available to you to help keep your PTG (and YOU) on the right track!
3. While we are on the subject of the Past…
It is very important to use the previous month’s agenda and/or meeting minutes to make sure you are aware of any details that need to be discussed further this month. Things like financial decisions or votes that were made are always a good idea to consider adding to your agenda if they seem like topics that need to addressed again, even mentioned as a follow-up comment.
If you are starting out your first agenda for the first month of the school year, you can still find value in addressing any items that had been “New Business” items during the last meeting of the previous school year. In doing so, you will likely be able to avoid something important falling through the cracks. Your agenda will appear very thorough as well and will impress everyone with your awesomeness!
4. Create a template.
While each PTG’s agenda won’t look exactly the same, there are some general details that you should include each month. I have created a sample template that I am happy to share with you! There are some extra tips and helpful suggestions in it for you as well. I hope you like it!
5. Ask for help!
Share your draft with any board members to get their feedback and help. Two, 3 or, 4 heads are better than one. I feel it is especially important for all officers to have ownership over what is discussed at the meetings. While the President may be responsible for writing the agenda, she (or he) shouldn’t hold the lone responsibility for deciding meeting actions and discussions. This open line of communication establishes communication that keeps everyone on the same page.
Keep the principal and other key staff members in the loop by sharing your agenda with them in advance. Several days prior to our meeting, I share the document with our principal and teacher liaisons at school. Each reads through the agenda and adds any details for special reports or other committee notes.
I have found it so helpful sharing the agenda in advance of our meetings because everyone comes to the meeting prepared with information or questions necessary for the planned discussion items.
Our agenda also is shared with our school staff before the meeting. While some PTA/PTO leaders may feel that this could hinder meeting attendance. Some might say, why come to a meeting when you can just read an agenda, right? I look at it like this, openly sharing the agenda is a great way to invite teachers/staff to the meeting and opens a strong line of communication. It also offers them an opportunity to have a voice in special projects they have extra interest.
You can do it!
Does this seem like a lot of work? Well, you are right, it is a lot of work. But, I know you have a heart filled with LOVE for your PTG just like me! I also know that you want to do the best job you can with your PTG and a big part of that is leading successful and productive meetings. I hope you find that by following the steps I have spelled out for you, your confidence increases. Soon, I know you will be crafting your own ROCK STAR agendas and shining like the PTG star you are!
If you have found this helpful on your PTG journey, I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for spending some of your valuable time with me! I feel so honored that you have included me in part of your day!