{Creating} Settle-In-Time

Leadership / Leadership //

Everyone needs some good ole’ settling-in-time. before a meeting, before volunteering, before getting down to business, they need some time to get settled and to feel ready to participate.

Here’s what i’ve noticed — people walk into my meeting and need a good five minutes to get settled. they take their coats off, look for the perfect seat, search for a pen, and then{!} when i think they’re finally settled and ready to start the meeting, they turn to the person next to them and say — how was your weekend?! really. did you see “chat about weekend” on my beautiful agenda?

Maybe this is obvious already — but, allowing for settle-in-time does not come naturally to me. when i arrive at a meeting, i’m ready to go. ready to work. we can chat later. but, that’s when i’m the leader. because i’ve already had my settling-in-time. i came early to the meeting, i put my coat away, i found my pen, printed the agendas, and mentally prepared for the meeting before i arrived.

Leaders settle in pre-meeting. participants settle in at the begining of the meeting.

Today: a few things i’m intentionally trying so that participants feel settled and ready to engage in my meetings, and so that i can feel less frustrated at the beginning of meetings.

Build in the time. i’m creating agendas that allow a good five minutes for settling in. i’m not adding a new agenda line, but i’m mindful that the first agenda item also needs to account for settling-in-time so that folks can engage as the meeting starts.

Don’t get panicky. let the settling-in-time settle. i notice that when folks are chatting, and looking for just the right seat, and not getting to the work of the meeting quick enough, i start to feel panicky. i’m nervous we’ll run out of time and won’t get to everything we need to discuss. but, lately, i’ve been telling myself — this is good! this is the work of the meeting! people chatting, connecting, all good!

Move the meeting along. once it’s time, move the meeting to the next topic. settling-in-time can easily turn into a thirty minute free for all, where everyone chats about everything. not good. allow for settling, then move the meeting along. if someone does need to chat further, make a note and mention that you’ll follow up post meeting.

Oh! oh! also! when it’s time to move along, don’t say — let’s get this meeting started. i’m the guiltiest of this! i do this every stinkin’ freakin’ meeting. settling-in-time is part of the meeting, it’s part of the good work that’s needed for everyone to fully engage. don’t discredit that by implying that the real work of the meeting begins after this time.

{creating} settle-in-time in order to lead effective, productive meetings. additional tips? 

Oh! and, in case you’re new to the blog. it’s a little passion of mine to lead great meetings. i’ve previously written additional meeting related posts here. enjoy!





About the Author

Amy Dolan is founder, leader and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company that seeks to encourage churches to consider a fresh approach to leading and teaching children. Amy started the company in 2005, as a way to empower and encourage fellow children’s ministry leaders, and since that first day has had the opportunity to work with leaders & organizations committed to the spiritual growth of children. Amy believes that the church fully empowered, combined with the commitment of the family, and the compassion of the community has the power to inspire children’s faith for a lifetime. In addition to her consulting work with Lemon Lime Kids, Amy leads the strategic curriculum development for Phil Vischer’s new curriculum What’s in the Bible? (, and serves as Director of LOCAL, a Chicago-area children’s ministry collaborative ( Amy is the former Executive Director for Children’s Ministry at the Willow Creek Association, a former Children’s Ministry Director at The Chapel in Libertyville, IL and a Curriculum Writer for Promiseland at Willow Creek in South Barrington. Amy is proud to be married to her husband Kelly, and loves living in Chicago. Amy blogs at and tweets at @adolan.