top of page

Hold Successful Meetings

All PTA meetings, regardless of their formality, contain fundamental components essential for their effectiveness. One crucial element is the agenda, which sets the sequence of topics to be addressed. It is imperative to adhere to the agenda, addressing and concluding each item before moving on to the next for clarity and efficiency. Parliamentary procedure safeguards the rights of participants while facilitating productive discussions on the meeting's agenda. All PTA meetings are governed by Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised as noted in the Bylaws.

Establish a consistent meeting schedule that accommodates the availability of both General Membership and Board of Directors, enabling individuals to plan effectively. Consider the possibility of arranging meetings at altnerate times to enhance attendance. Consult with neighboring PTAs, feeder schools, and community stakeholders to align schedules for better coordination. The individual serving as the presiding officer (or chair) should arrive punctually, understand the Bylaws and parliamentary protocols, maintain their composure, exhibit tactfulness, show appreciation, extend courtesy, embrace a charitable demeanor, and present themselves in a well-groomed manner. The President, or in the President's absence the Vice-President, assumes the role of the presiding officer. This individual officially starts the meeting at the designated time and proceeds with the agenda. The President utilizes an impersonal reference as "the chair" as the presiding officer in formal gatherings of the General Membership. In this capacity, the President refrains from participating in the substantive discussion and avoids expressing personal opinions. Instead, they facilitate the orderly conduct of business within the group. In smaller gatherings, such as meetings of the Executive Committee, the President may actively participate, and the adherence to parliamentary procedure may be less strict. Preparing the Agenda: According to Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, the Secretary is authorized to create the agenda although many Presidents do it, themselves. Prior to compiling the agenda, review the minutes from the preceding meeting to identify any unresolved business. Consult with officers and committee chairs to determine if they have reports to present. Ensure that the names of individuals scheduled to speak are included on the agenda. Refrain from calling upon anyone who lacks a report to present. Quorum: In accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, a quorum represents the minimum count of eligible voting members required for the legal conduct of business. Quorum for both BOD and Executive Committee meetings is 50% of the total roster plus one, or a majority. Do not count anyone more than once even if they hold multiple positions on the BOD. Quorum for General Membership Meetings is in the Bylaws. To establish quorum, every meeting should have the membership roster available and use a sign-in sheet to document that quorum was met. There is a sample sign-in sheet in the Secretary Toolkit.

Parliametary Procedure

Parliamentary procedure is a consistent framework of regulations that oversee the operations of various organizations. These regulations serve to safeguard the rights of all participants, emphasize courtesy toward all members, and ensure impartial treatment. While it's not mandatory to be well-versed in every rule, possessing a fundamental understanding can greatly facilitate the efficient conduct of meetings. It's advisable to keep copies of the PTA’s Bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order on hand during meetings for easy reference.


Parliamentary procedure mandates that all participants acknowledge the will of the majority and show respect for the opinions of the minority. The President, as the duly elected leader, is tasked with executing the PTA’s will rather than imposing their own agenda upon it. Authority resides in the office, not in the individual holding it. All members hold equal status within the organization. No one has the right to do anything that prevents others from seeing or hearing the presiding officer or speaker. During meetings, no one has the right to converse, move about, or stand, except to address the presiding officer. If several members rise at the same time to claim the floor, the chair recognizes one and the others shall be seated immediately to be called upon as soon as possible if time permits.

Making a Motion

A motion, also known as an "action," is a formal proposal presented to an organization, suggesting that it take specific actions or express particular viewpoints. The purpose of a motion is to introduce a matter for consideration during a meeting. There are six steps involved in making a motion:

  1. Gaining the floor and stating the motion: A member stands and respectfully addresses the chair by using the appropriate title. The chair acknowledges the member who wishes to speak. The member is then allowed to say their motion, such as "I move that..." The Secretary records this person's name.

  2. Seconding the motion: Another member must second the motion, indicating that more than one person is interested in the topic by stating, "I second the motion." Motions initiated in committees do not need a second. The Secretary does not include this person's name.

  3. Restating the motion: The chair formally restates the motion to the assembly which can be modified or edited.

  4. Discussion (or debate): All comments and arguments should be directed towards the chair. This discussion alternates between pro and con speakers until no one wishes to speak or until someone moves to end the debate early. To end the debate, a member can say, "I move the previous question." This motion requires a second, is not open for debate itself, and necessitates an affirmative two-thirds vote.

  5. “Putting the Question” or Taking the Vote: The chair reiterates the motion, specifies the voting method, and calls for both affirmative and negative votes.

  6. Announcing the results: The chair announces the outcome of the vote (passed or failed) and explains the action the assembly will take based on the vote's result.


Motions should be presented in a clear and concise manner, focused on a single main idea. The appropriate language for initiating a motion is either "I move that" or "I move to." The individual proposing the motion usually initiates the discussion. In exceptional circumstances, the presiding officer can engage in discussion but must temporarily step down from the chair during the debate and voting process. The President is permitted to cast a vote on a pending question when their vote could potentially make or break a tie or alter the outcome. Additionally, the President may vote when an anonymous ballot is used to maintain confidentiality and not to influence others. The minutes record the person’s name who made the motion but not the name of the second.


To promote an inclusive PTA, use icebreakers to have members easily engage with one another. Icebreakers are an enjoyable way for acquainting individuals and fostering a sense of belonging. This approach serves as an excellent kickoff for meetings, initiating participation and introductions before delving into the agenda. When selecting an icebreaker, consider the following factors:

  1. Primary Objective: Is the main objective, for example, to have participants meet each other, kick off a little competition, or teach the participants something new?

  2. Inclusivity: Meeting attendees usually possess diverse abilities, interests, and beliefs. Ensure that the icebreaker is accessible to all and allows everyone to actively participate.

  3. Interactive: Icebreakers excel at encouraging people to mingle and step outside their comfort zones. Select an activity that encourages participants to establish new connections and relationships.

What Do You Love?

Each person states one thing that that they love. Then others who also love the same thing raise their hands or otherwise gesture. 

Meet Someone New

Each person shares what month they were born and finds someone born the same month that they don’t know well. What’s one other thing they have in common?

Name Tag

As each participant signs in, present them with a different person’s name tag. They seek one another out as they introduce themselves to other participants.

Name Game

Ask each attendee to introduce themselves then talk about how they got their name or the history behind it. 

Just By Looking at Me

“My name is ___ and I am from ___. One thing you cannot tell just by looking at me is ___.” Begin by demonstrating the prompt.

What’s Your Favorite [Food]

Each person shares a type or category of food. This can be used for nonfood items as well. Just ask something simple and easy to identify.

Trivia Game

Create a list of 15-20 fun and interesting facts related to a theme. Get creative with your theme options, possibly related to something in the meeting.

Guess Who

Have participants write one or two facts about themselves. Take turns reading the facts out loud and guess who the fact belongs to. 

The Minutes

The official record of all meetings, known as the minutes, serves as the enduring repository of the PTA's proceedings. Given their potential use as legal documents during litigation, it is of paramount importance that they are meticulously and objectively documented and conscientiously transcribed into a final form. Although the Secretary bears the primary responsibility for recording, preparing, and preserving the minutes, it is incumbent upon every member to review them diligently. It is worth emphasizing that if an event or action is not documented in the minutes, it is as if it never occurred.

Minutes should not be mistaken for a mere report; they are, in fact, a comprehensive record of the PTA's business. Their role is to safeguard the PTA and its members by chronicling actions taken rather than delving into verbal exchanges or personal opinions. In the minutes, you will find an exhaustive account of all group actions, including the precise wording of motions, the names of their proposers, and the outcomes of these motions. The composition of the minutes should strike a balance between completeness, conciseness, and accuracy, aiming for brevity while ensuring the inclusion of essential and precise details. The minutes can be handwritten in black or blue ink and endorsed by the Secretary within a bound journal with numbered pages. This prevents any potential tampering or removal of pages. The Secretary could also use a computer to type the minutes during the meeting rather than hand write them into a journal. Each entry in the minutes should specify the date, location, time, meeting type, and the names of the presiding officer and Secretary, or their alternates if applicable. During the meeting, the Secretary should adhere to the agenda’s format and organization, taking notes exclusively on factual information and motions, omitting personal opinions and discussions. At the meeting's conclusion, the Secretary's signature finalizes the minutes. When tasked with recording the minutes of a meeting, make sure to have extra pens, a bound journal designated for minutes or a computer, and Motion Forms (located at the end of this section). Arrive at the meeting venue ahead of time to with all necessary materials. Also, have copies of the meeting agenda, sign-in sheet for attendees, and any relevant reports, financial statements, and documents. If the Secretary is absent, a secretary pro tem may be appointed for that meeting. The most challenging aspect of minute-taking involves determining what information should be transcribed verbatim, what can be paraphrased, and what is not essential for the official record. Minutes should be succinct, factual, and impartial accounts of the meeting proceedings. Therefore, avoid letting personal preferences influence notetaking. Distinguishing between various opinions and facts can be challenging. Aim to impartially document the proceedings. As the recorder, listen attentively and don't hesitate to seek clarification and ask questions from the President or chair if necessary. All meetings may be recorded (either through audio or video) by one Board Member, preferably the Secretary, to accurately document the meeting. Inform all attendees at the outset that the meeting will be recorded. Anyone can request a pause in the recording during discussions. All recordings should be deleted once the minutes have been compiled. Courtesy Seat: Only individuals included in the meeting agenda are authorized to address the assembly. However, a "Courtesy Seat" privilege may be granted to a non-Board Member visiting the meeting. The meeting minutes will include a notation such as: "A courtesy seat was granted to Officer Brown who discussed traffic dismissal concerns." During a formal vote, the method and tally of votes for each side should be documented. The Secretary should have blank sheets of paper available for secret ballot voting and assist in the vote count when requested. Reports from officers and committees may be appended to the minutes to avoid duplicating information. The Secretary can provide a concise summary of the activities. Motions that arise from the reports must be included in the minutes. An example of a Tellers Report for contested elections can be found in the LAPTA Toolkit: Elections and Nominating Committee. At the end of a meeting, a motion to adjourn is only necessary if all items on the agenda were not covered.

Hold Inclusive Meetings

When scheduling PTA meetings and times, consider possible conflicts, religious holidays, and work limitations that might prevent some from attending. Possibly alternate days of the week and times of the day. Meetings could be held at two times in one day, such as 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. Survey the school community to find best ways to reach most families.

Assure your meeting location, restrooms, and other needed facilities are accessible to all attendees. A location easy to find makes for prompt arrivals of attendees. Use signage that is clear and legible to all. If the meeting is outside the school, consider locations that are near public transportation and have ample parking. When publicizing the meeting, consider digital access limitations when sending out fliers electronically. Provide printed notice when needed. Ask teachers to include a reminder on the day of the meeting when children write their homework in their agenda planners. Send it out by email and post on the PTA website, and on social media platforms. Ask room parents to reach out to their rosters. Have handouts with all monthly meeting dates at school and PTA events. Assure digital and paper fliers are sent in all spoken languages in your school. When using any electronic translation such as Google Translate, try to have a native speaker proofread the translated flier for accuracy. Thoughtfully set up the meeting space. All those who attend should be able to have a good view of speakers, screens, etc. so that all attendees are able to see, hear, and engage with each other. Have all handouts and sign-in sheets near the entrance and easily accessible. Consider seating arrangements that make everyone feel equally engaged and significant rather than classroom style or the PTA Board facing the audience. Board Members, when possible, can spread throughout the space to mingle and meet other members. When holding a virtual meeting, confirm microphones are placed in locations able to pick up the voice of anyone speaking so those attending virtually can hear them. For the meeting environment, leaders need to be open-minded, presentable, and approachable, making others feel comfortable. Always realize the significance and responsibilities of leadership roles and how they can impact perceptions and recruitment of members and future leaders. Consider PTA Board Members taking turns greeting attendees as they arrive at meetings. Acknowledge new members and attendees as they come in. Name badges make it easier to properly address individuals and to learn their names. Take the time to learn how to pronounce names correctly. Correct pronunciation of names is more than a common courtesy. It is a significant sign of caring and inclusion. Consider having crayons, coloring books, and activities for children accompanying their family members to quietly entertain themselves. Adhere to the meeting agenda, lay the ground rules at the start of the meeting, and treat all with respect and consistency. Allow opportunities on the agenda for feedback and attendee engagement when appropriate, making it clear to all that their suggestions are welcome. Avoid terms that may offend others. When holding a virtual meeting, assign someone to check and address the chat. If food or beverages are provided, proper sanitary precautions need to be observed. Be sure to consider dietary and religious restrictions as well as food allergies. Provide clear and accessible packaging information and ingredients for those purposes. Serving tables should be accessible to all attendees. Finally, collect contact information and follow up regarding topics or issues that need to be addressed later. Unless people feel heard, they are unlikely to return to future meetings. Reach out and thank any newcomers. Remember the first time going to a meeting or doing something outside your comfort zone? Make the effort to engage and follow up to create lasting relationships and future leaders!

bottom of page