Hosting A Parent Event

Posted: 
Friday, May 15, 2020

One of the most common ways to connect with parents is with a parent event. It is a great way to connect with and communicate with multiple parents all in one hit. Whether it is an evening, a breakfast or a meeting after church.

Of course the challenge these days is getting people into the room at the same time and place. Even pre-COVID, people were busy and difficult to coordinate for a combined meeting. But there is benefit in those face to face moments, which is why they are still part of youth ministry.

Why have a parent event?

  • Connection - connection between youth leaders to parents, and connection between parents
  • Inform - to discuss the youth ministry, programs, events, camp, fundraising etc
  • Input - bring helpful resources or content that will help the parents
  • Buy in - whether to gain support or volunteers, sharing vision and need can be part of a parent event
  • Feedback - sometimes you need feedback from parents 

 

Organising a parent event?

The five big things to consider when planning a parent event are purpose, time, place, content and communication.

Purpose: why are you having this event/meeting? You may be able to achieve multiple aims, but there should be one key purpose. This will help you make informed decisions around other parts. It will also be a crucial part at the end when you ask if the event was a success.

Time: when will you be holding this event. What day of the week? What date? What time? This is definitely the aspect that you should get good input from parents on, if you want people to show up. There is never going to be one particular time that will suit everyone, so you need to make a decision on when you expect to get the most people there. You also need to choose a date far enough in the future that will give parents time to plan to be there.

Place: where will you have it? Make sure you find a suitable space that will help serve your purpose. If the main purpose is social then a cafe type setting is probably going to serve you better than a class room. If you are aiming to present information then a space with a large TV or projector may be needed. Make sure it is convenient for the parents to get there at the date and time you have set.

Content: what will happen? Will there be food and drink? Will there be time for socializing? What information do you need to present and how will you present it? Will people walk away with something in their hand? Will you need people to help present or serve or coordinate? Will I need a runsheet to help coordinate? Will this honour the time and effort parents have made to attend? All these and more will need to be answered to make your event run smoothly and achieve your purpose.

Communication: how will you make sure that all parents are aware? Remember that they need to know early enough that they can make best efforts to be there. Choosing methods for communication and regularity will help make this more successful. Do as much as is reasonably possible for all parents to have heard about the event multiple times.

 

Alternatives

There is value in the face to face interactions when a parents event that is held in person. But in person events have their challenges. So it is worth considering other options. And maybe you plan 1-2 in person events each year and then have a couple of other alternatives at other times. This list will age quickly as not these technologies will be available in 6 months, but the principles should continue.

Online video chat - tools like Zoom or Skype create an opportunity for group calls, video or audio. This still requires a date and time, content and communication, but it eliminates the need to travel to a specific location. This can make it more convenient. Managing the attendees can be challenging, especially if there is any discussion or Q&A. So I would recommend having a co-host who can focus on the tech.

Live Video - Facebook and Instagram have options where you can broadcast live, and interact with comments from viewers. This has some value when presenting content live but has limited interaction. Again, there is a date, time, content and communication required.

Online chat - chat using text and emojis etc. You need to be very cautious using text based interactions, as there is no non-verbal cues. You have to try and interpret the tone of the writing. And what one person thought was playful banter, someone else may read as rude and confronting. Use this sparingly.

Pre-recorded video - this gives people the chance to interact with the content at a time that is convenient to them. It is primarly one way but can be useful. It requires content and communication but removes the need for date, time and place. Just make sure that you have good quality audio on the video. Nothing more frustrating that not hearing things clearly.

Mixture -  mix and match the alternatives. You could record the video chat and post it so people can watch it later, to at least get the content. You could pre-record a video and then host multiple Q&A sessions at different times so that people can interact and get more information.

 

If It Doesn't Work

We have all had events that didn't go how we hoped, and parent events can miss our expectations too. So somethings to keep in mind:

  • Be positive and hopeful, but temper it with realism. The chances are that not all parents will be there, so don't expect it.
  • During the meeting, focus your energy on those that made the effort to be there.
  • Review afterwards - what went well and what needs work, make adjustments as necessary for future events
  • Follow up - follow up with those that were there, thanking them for coming and get their feedback. Follow up with those that weren't there and let them know that you missed them and pass them any important informaton that they may need.
  • Use positive parents to help promote the next event. If there were parents that found value in the event, then use them to help promote the next one you do.

 

Tell us about your parent events and communication. What has worked in person and online? What hasn't worked?

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