PTA Meeting Strategies
January 13, 2009
As a long-time member of the PTA, I have sat through more meetings than I can possibly count. This year, I am a member of the executive board for two different PTAs. That is double the commitment, double the interactions, and double the meetings. One thing you should know about me is I like my meetings quick and to the point. If a meeting drags out for too long, I tend to find myself looking for ways to stay amused.
Just the other day, I discovered some really interesting ways to pass the time while sitting through a three hour middle school PTA meeting. I thought I would share some of them with you in case you find yourself stuck in a meeting – any meeting – that lasts too long for your attention span.
If you stare intently at someone's mouth while they are talking, no matter how confident they are in what they are saying, they will begin to stammer and lose their train of thought. This one really works great on pompous people that you just are not very fond of in general.
Every time you look at another person in the meeting, rub your cheek a just little bit. (Be subtle about it.) Before too long, they will begin to casually rub their own cheek to the point of near obsession. They become intent on trying to rid their person of whatever blemish or food remnant must be stuck to their face. Of course, it's funny because there's nothing there. (Sidenote: This works with the mouth, nose, and chin as well.)
It is probably not in your best interest to say, "Are you still talking?" when one of the status reports goes on for entirely too long. More specifically, don't say it loud enough for someone else to hear you.
If you're really bored and want to gauge how bored other people are, continuously glance up towards the ceiling. Try to look at the same spot each time. Eventually, look around and see who else keeps looking up as well. This actually serves a dual purpose: (a) you can see who else is just as bored in the meeting and (b) you see who is so bored they have resorted to watching you watch the ceiling.
And finally, the most important thing to keep in mind in an overly long and boring meeting: Don't doodle things such as "I'm in a meeting black hole!" or "Will this ever end?!!" or "blah blah boring meeting blah blah" on the report that you are supposed to turn in at the end of the meeting. Seriously. Find out at the beginning of the meeting what you are turning in and what is yours to keep. I am not saying that I have actually done this (okay, I have), I am simply offering advice.
My kids have requested that when or if I join the PTA each year, and if I ever get on another PTA board, that I please not use my real name as it associates me with them. I don’t know what they are so worried about; I am helping other bored parents. Still? They would rather I stay more anonymous.
Kids! They just have no sense of humor!