How to write a polite meeting cancellation email even if it's urgent?

While everybody makes plans and schedules appointments, not everything is always doable. Under certain circumstances, regardless of whether we cause them or not, we have to make changes to our plans. Timetable changes presume that other people adjust their schedules too, sometimes not to their advantage. At times, it might cause them certain trouble. Thus, whenever we have to annul an appointment or reschedule it, we have to notify other people and make sure they are fine with those changes. A proper way to do it would write an email to cancel the meeting.

So what is a meeting cancellation email?

An email cancelling a meeting is a polite and official way to withdraw from a scheduled appointment. You write it with a purpose of either by calling off or rescheduling your—online or offline—meeting. On the one hand, such an email is a formality; on the other, it is an official yet personal way to notify the recipient of the change in plans and apologize for the inconvenience in advance.

via GIPHY

When and why you should write an appointment termination email

Although the best way to terminate an appointment would be a phone call made as soon as possible, writing an email to cancel a meeting is often more convenient. Some of the typical situations when you ought to send a meeting cancellation email are as follows:

  • You cannot make it to the meeting, because you fell ill
  • You cannot make it on time because of traffic problems
  • Your plans have changed so that the appointment is not relevant anymore
  • You suddenly need to be somewhere else due to work- or family-related issues
  • It is not possible to attend the meeting due to changes in your schedule
  • An error in scheduling has occurred, and it has turned out that there is no available time slot for the meeting

So, whenever or for whatever the reason, you are about to cancel a meeting, email is a perfect medium to do this because:

email meeting cancellation

If you want to be absolutely sure that your recipient has received your message and will respond to it, you can also notify them of a meeting revocation on the phone. In most cases, sending an email is sufficient.

Step-by-Step: How to write a meeting cancellation email:

Before you terminate an appointment, put yourself in the other’s shoes. Imagine all the inconvenience this might cause them and try to milden their dissatisfaction through politeness and apology. So, the key rules for crafting a meeting cancellation email template are: politeness, timeliness, and reasonableness.

  • Write an email yourself

First of all, do not leave this task to your assistant. It is better to dedicate some time and write it yourself, or at least from your own email address. You can have your assistant remind you to write such an email if you must.

via GIPHY

  • Give advanced notice for cancelling your meeting

Secondly, when terminating an appointment, you should give a notice well in advance. Calling it off half an hour before the scheduled meeting is bad manners at the very least. Make it so that a person has enough time to adjust his or her schedule. If it is a last-minute email, you need to have a very good reason.

Cancellation meeting email

  • Provide a good explanation about why a meeting has to be postponed

You need to explain why you cannot attend. Otherwise, a person might think that you are canceling because you just decided so. As a result, they may start to think that you are not a reliable person. You need not give a very detailed explanation to keep the message brief and to-the-point.

cancellation of meeting
  • Propose a time to reschedule

Suggesting a new time will mean that meeting this person is still important to you. Show that you are interested in the appointment despite the need to terminate it. Propose a few time slots but stay open to counter-proposals. Give your recipient a possibility to adjust his or her schedule.

Meeting Cancellation Letter

 

  • End the letter with appreciation

At the end of your email, you should thank the person for his or her consideration of your situation. Appreciate the fact that they have found the time to read your email and maybe even compromise their plans in your favor. You should understand that it is not that easy to make adjustments in a schedule, especially for business people.

  • Send your cancellation email as soon as possible

Do not linger over your email once you’ve written it. The sooner you click the Send button, the easier it will be for your correspondent to make changes in their schedule, and the more chances they will do so. In absolutely no case should you postpone sending your email for cancelling a meeting until the very last minute.

How to write an email for cancellation of a meeting for multiple people

If you are rescheduling a meeting with multiple people, do it well ahead of the appointed time. When you do it in the last minute, bear in mind that it will be overly hard to plan a meeting which all of the attendees can be present at. It takes a lot of effort to agree upon the time slot that is suitable for everyone. You should either ask each participant to suggest their date and time or propose a few openings yourself. Also, prepare to be flexible: it can happen that all of your suggested time slots will not suit the participants.

meeting for multiple people

Follow up with a personal apology email for cancelling a meeting

When rescinding an appointment, always make sure that the other party has received your message and taken it into consideration. You can write a meeting cancellation email follow-up later, in order to see whether the person has accepted your suggested time slot and that they do not hold grudges for you terminating a scheduled encounter. In such an email, you need to reiterate your apologies, thank the other person for their understanding, and include a call to action, which can be asking them to reply to this email, to call you, or to RSVP to a created event in the online calendar.

 

Click here to personalize cancellation email even more by creating professional email signatures

 

Best examples of meeting cancellation emails

Now that you have the essential tips on cancelling a meeting via email, let’s see some samples of how to correctly and politely nullify an appointment.

 1. A) Cancelling a staff meeting by a boss

Subject: Cancellation of tomorrow’s Staff Meeting

Dear Team,

I am writing to inform you that due to an unforeseen and emergent situation, I have no choice but to cancel our staff meeting scheduled tomorrow at 11 AM regarding our Roadmap. Please accept my sincere apologies for such short notice and any inconvenience this may have caused. I know how important it is for you to finally work out a plan for the next quarter. I will write you by the end of the week and suggest a new appointment date.

Kind regards,

Name

Business email signature

2. B) Cancel a meeting: email example for (potential) business partners

Subject: Cancellation of our meeting

Dear Name,

I regret to inform you that I have to cancel our meeting scheduled at 11AM on Monday, 13th regarding the future collaboration between our companies. I have been notified by my assistant that I must take a business trip to Tokyo, which cannot be postponed. I sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience, as well as for my short notice. I assure you that I wrote you as soon as I learned about this change of plans.

I hope for your understanding and am looking forward to our meeting, which we could reschedule for the week of 20th, once I am back. For example, we could set the date of our appointment to Wednesday, 22nd. I kindly ask you to send me confirmation that you have received my email and suggest a new date for our meeting that will suit you.

Thank you once again for your consideration.Kind regards,
Name
Business email signature

 3. C) Cancelling an appointment at an official institution

Subject: Cancellation of my appointment on 13th Nov.

Dear Mr [...],

I am sorry, but I have to cancel our appointment regarding my Retirement Plan that was scheduled at 8:30 AM on Monday, 13th November. My youngest daughter has been hospitalized with some complications, and I have to be at the hospital.

Unfortunately, I cannot suggest a new time slot right now because I do not know what we are dealing with. I will contact you as soon as I know the details. If you need any information from me, please do not hesitate to write me at this email address.

I thank you for your understanding and apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused you.

Best regards,

Name

Email signature

Summarizing it all

To sum up all of the above, here are the main “how’s” of writing a cancellation-of-meeting email:

  • Appreciate other people’s time
  • Give a good reason for terminating the appointment
  • Thank the person for their understanding of your situation
  • Show your interest in talking to the person in the future
  • Be proactive: suggest the new time slot
  • Be polite and courteous

In general, no matter with whom you were supposed to have a meeting that you are canceling. If they are professional people, they will understand that you provided a decent reason. Things happen, plans change, appointments get terminated. Just do not overuse your right to terminate appointments. It is always better to make sure you can make it before scheduling anything or writing an email cancellation of a meeting.