How to Write a Polite Meeting Cancellation Email (with Templates and Examples)
1. Write an email
2. Give advanced notice for canceling your meeting
3. Provide a good explanation
4. Propose a time to reschedule
5. End the letter with appreciation
6. Send your cancellation email
7. Follow up with a personal apology
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 or event.
In this article, we will cover the main steps to follow when writing a meeting cancelation email as well as provide some examples you can copy right away. If you are looking for ready-to-use templates, you might also find useful our previous article where we gathered the best event cancellation emails.
What is a meeting cancellation email?
An email canceling a meeting is a polite and official way to withdraw from a scheduled appointment. You write it with the purpose of either 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.
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;
- an error in scheduling has occurred, and it has turned out that there is no available time slot for the meeting;
- you cannot make it on time because of traffic problems;
- your plans have changed so that the appointment is not relevant anymore, or 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.
So, whenever or for whatever the reason, you are about to cancel a meeting, email is a perfect medium to do this because all people have email addresses, and everyone checks their emails. Besides, an email does not require a person to respond immediately. It gives your recipient the time to think the message through.
Unlike a direct call, an email will almost certainly reach the person at a convenient time. If you want to be 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.
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.
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. If you are new to business emailing, see these basic rules for writing effective emails.
Secondly, when terminating an appointment, you should give 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. Use online agenda planners like Google Calendar not to forget anything and stay organized.
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 believe that you are not a reliable person. You need not give a very detailed explanation to keep the message brief and to-the-point.
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 others the possibility to adjust their schedule. Incorporate a CTA button with a link to your calendar to the email signature so your recipient can choose the best time available. Online tools like Newoldstamp can help you incorporate professional clickable signatures into your business correspondence.
Just sign up for a new account, go to Signature Apps, choose Scheduling, select one of the predesigned buttons, and add a link to your scheduling app or calendar.
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.
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 canceling a meeting until the very last minute.
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 that all attendees can be present at. It takes a lot of effort to agree upon the time slot that is suitable for everyone. It could help if you either asked 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.
To save time emailing each of the meeting participants separately, use the Cc (the recipients can see the email addresses of each other) or Bcc (you keep the recipients private) options in your email client.
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 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 asking them to reply to this email, call you, or RSVP to a created event in the online calendar.
Now that you have the essential tips on canceling a meeting via email let’s see some samples of how to correctly and politely nullify an appointment.
Example1. Canceling a staff meeting by a boss
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 work out a plan for the next quarter.
I will write to you by the end of the week and suggest a new appointment date.
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Example 2. Cancel a meeting: email example for (potential) business partners
Dear Mrs. [ ],
I regret to inform you that I have to cancel our meeting scheduled at 11 AM on Monday, 13th regarding our companies' future collaboration. My assistant has notified me that I must take a business trip to Tokyo, which cannot be postponed. I sincerely apologize for all the inconveniences, as well as for my short notice. I assure you that I wrote to 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.
Example 3. Canceling an appointment at an official institution
Dear Mr. [ ],
I am sorry, but I have to cancel our appointment regarding my Retirement Plan 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 to me at this email address.
I thank you for your understanding and apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused you.
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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.