As a professional, attending meetings is often unavoidable. However, there may be occasions when you need to cancel a meeting via email. In such situations, it is crucial to inform the other party at least 24 hours in advance.
It is essential to be clear and concise in your email, explaining the reason for the cancellation and offering an apology for any inconvenience caused. If possible, suggest an alternative date or time for the meeting, and ensure that you follow up with a confirmation email once a new date is agreed upon.
As much as you can, try to attend all the meetings you’ve confirmed you’ll be attending. Scheduling a meeting often causes people to change their schedules, oftentimes to their disadvantage. Canceling a meeting does the same thing to their schedules. This is why an email canceling a meeting is more about the other party than it is about you.
Cancel Meeting Via Email
An email canceling a meeting is a formal and polite way of letting people know you’re not going to attend an already scheduled meeting. An email canceling a meeting is written to either call the meeting off indefinitely or to reschedule.
When rescheduling a meeting, you need to make sure each party is comfortable with the time set. If the meeting is between you and another person, in the spirit of being polite, you can ask when they’re going to be free and set the meeting at a mutually beneficial time.
An email canceling a meeting is often considered an unnecessary formality (when you could just send a text to the involved parties.) If the meeting is an informal one between you and a work colleague, this would be correct. But in a professional setting where you’re expected to meet with your colleagues, not formally informing them could be extremely detrimental. Canceling a meeting by email is also a great way to keep a record of your engagement with your colleagues or teammates.
When, Why and How to Cancel a Meeting via Email
One of the best ways to cancel an email is via call especially if the meeting was between you and another party, this is mainly because a call relays this information in real-time. If you’re having a meeting with over 5 people, calling each of them would be ineffective and counterproductive.
If you call to cancel a meeting, you should also send an email and adjust your calendar to reflect this change.
When Should You Cancel a Meeting? Excuses to Cancel a Meeting.
- A change in your schedule due to other work-related issues. If something comes up with work that requires more immediate attention and the priority ranks higher than the meeting, it makes sense that you would reschedule the meeting and handle the appointment with a higher priority.
- A change in your schedule due to a family emergency. If a family emergency occurs and your presence is needed, this is a valid reason to reschedule a meeting. It’s also important to mention this reason in your email. Whether or not to include it in detail is entirely up to you.
- Canceling because of your health. If you fall ill and cannot make it to the office, you should let the participants of your meeting know this as soon as possible.
- A double-booked appointment. Canceling an email because of another appointment in that time slot depends on the importance and severity of both meetings. Which of them can be rescheduled, and which cannot? If your other appointment is out office and can be rescheduled, you should reschedule it.
To prevent this from repeating itself, you should make sure your meetings are properly categorized in your calendars. This way, there’s no risk of missing a meeting.
There are loads of reasons you might need to cancel a meeting via email. Reasons to cancel a meeting cannot be exhausted. It all depends on how important that meeting is to you compared to the other emergency or issue.
In most cases, canceling a meeting via email would be sufficient. If you’re canceling a meeting 24 hours beforehand, an email would be sufficient. But if you’re canceling a meeting hours before, it would be encouraged to also call a participant of the meeting in addition to your email.
How to Write an Email Cancelling a Meeting
As said earlier in this article, when canceling a meeting, it’s more about the recipients of the email than it is about you. This is why when writing an email to cancel a meeting, you should think about the people on the receiving end of the email.
This is why you should sate their dissatisfaction by apologizing for the inconvenience caused. Your meeting cancellation email should be polite, apologetic, and as much as possible, timely.
- Give the notice in advance. If you plan to cancel a meeting, the earlier it is done the better. Canceling a meeting last minute is ineffective and downright unprofessional. If you cancel a meeting last minute, there’s a chance some members of your team may not notice this cancellation and still attend this meeting.
So, when canceling a meeting via email, inform the participants as early as you can beforehand.
- Provide a Valid Reason. This option isn’t entirely set in stone. If you’re the boss, you can be ambiguous about the reason you’re canceling the meeting. But anyone else on the team may not have that leverage. If you’re not the boss, you don’t have to be overly specific about the reason you’re canceling. You can be a little vague.
NB: It’s standard practice that your team lead or anyone you report to directly knows the reason for the cancellation.
- Be respectful and apologetic in your email. Understand that participants may have canceled engagements of their own to attend the meeting this is why your email has to express your feelings concerning the incontinence you would likely cause. In your email, use phrases like:
“I’m sorry I can’t make this meeting…”
“I understand this may cause an inconvenience,”
“I understand how this important this meeting is…” If the meeting will be recorded, you should make sure you listen to the recording and give your feedback afterwards.
- Suggest a Time to Reschedule. Propose a new time to reschedule the meeting. Doing this makes the other participants know you’re still interested in the meeting and your reason for canceling is genuine. While proposing a new time, be aware that there may be counter-proposals as they may not fit well into other people’s schedules.
Meeting Cancellation Etiquette
- Notify participants as soon as possible: Cancel the meeting as soon as you know it won't be happening, to give attendees plenty of notice to adjust their schedules.
- Be clear and direct: When notifying participants of the cancellation, be clear and direct about the reason, if possible.
- Apologize for any inconvenience: Even if the cancellation is out of your control, apologize to attendees for any inconvenience caused.
- Offer to reschedule: If appropriate, offer to reschedule the meeting for a later date and time that works for all participants.
- Use the appropriate communication method: Use the same method of communication you used to invite attendees (e.g. email, phone, messaging app) to notify them of the cancellation.
- Don't cancel at the last minute: Avoid canceling a meeting at the last minute, unless it is absolutely necessary, as it can be disruptive to participants' schedules and may cause frustration or inconvenience.
- Avoid canceling frequently: Try to avoid canceling meetings frequently, as it can damage relationships and reduce trust with attendees.
Samples on How to Cancel Meetings Through Email
After discussing the best ways to write a cancellation email, here are some examples of how they’re used.
Email Sample to Cancel a Meeting Due to Illness
Subject: Cancellation of tomorrow’s meeting. Hello Jane, This email is to inform you that the meeting scheduled to hold tomorrow at noon has been cancelled. I’ve come down with a cold and have been instructed to be on bed rest till I feel better. Please inform the rest of the team that the meeting is rescheduled till further notice. Warm regards, Lois Kent, CEO
Email Sample to Cancel a Meeting Due to Illness 2
Subject: Absence at tomorrow’s strategy meeting. Dear Team, I hope this email meets you well. I’m sending this email to inform everyone that I won’t be attending the meeting tomorrow as I have fallen ill and will be at the doctor’s tomorrow. I’m sorry for any inconvenience that may be caused due to my absence. Regards, Clark Allen
Email Sample to Cancel a Meeting Due to Unavailability
Subject: Cancellation of Tomorrow’s Meeting. Dear Team, This email is to inform everyone of the cancellation of tomorrow’s meeting due to some unforeseen events that have led to my unavailability. I apologize for any inconvenience caused. We’ll reschedule sometime soon. Thank you for your time. With Regards, Peter Rogers.
Email Sample to Change the Time of a Meeting
Subject: Change of Time for Tomorrow’s Meeting Dear Jane, I hope this email meets you well. This email is to notify you that the meeting scheduled for noon tomorrow has been scheduled for 3 PM tomorrow. Please inform the rest of the team of this recent development. Thank you for your time. Regards, Barry West, CTO
Reschedule Meeting Email Template
Subject: Request for rescheduling the meeting Dear [Name], I am writing to request a rescheduling of our upcoming meeting that was scheduled on [Date] at [Time] at [Location]. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I will not be able to attend the meeting as planned. I understand that this may cause some inconvenience, and I apologize for any disruption this may cause to your schedule. I would like to propose a new date and time for the meeting, which would be [Date] at [Time] at [Location]. I hope this new schedule would be convenient for you, and I look forward to meeting with you then. Please let me know if this new schedule works for you or if we need to discuss further options. I am committed to finding a time that is convenient for all parties involved. Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Best regards, [Your Name]
Postpone Meeting Email Sample
Subject: Request to Postpone Meeting Dear [Name], I am writing to request a postponement of our upcoming meeting that was scheduled on [Date] at [Time] at [Location]. Unfortunately, due to unexpected circumstances, I am unable to attend the meeting as planned. I understand that this may cause some inconvenience, and I apologize for any disruption this may cause to your schedule. I would like to request a new date and time for the meeting, which would be [Proposed Date] at [Proposed Time] at [Location]. I hope this new schedule would be suitable for you, and I look forward to meeting with you then. Please let me know if this new schedule works for you or if we need to discuss further options. I am committed to finding a time that is convenient for both of us. Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Best regards, [Your Name]
How to Avoid Cancelling Meetings
Respond to Meeting invitations with definite answers. Accepting an invitation to a meeting you’re sure you won’t attend is wrong. If you check your calendar and notice that a meeting is going to clash with another engagement, simply hit “decline” in your email.
If you’re genuinely unsure if you’ll be attending the meeting, it’s best to respond “tentative” or “uncertain” to the invitation. This way, if you cancel your invitation a day to the meeting, it doesn’t come as a shock to your team members as they would have made contingencies for the eventuality.
Plan out your calendar carefully. By planning out your calendar, and making sure all your engagements are properly outlined, you reduce the risk of double-scheduling and cancelling because you forgot about an already scheduled meeting.
Canceling a meeting is something you should avoid as much as you can. If you have to cancel a meeting via email, make sure to follow the points highlighted in this article.