business across cultures

Rescheduling Meetings: Avoiding Confusion

How to clearly describe changes when rescheduling meetings

One of the challenges of communicating internationally in English is how to clearly describe changes when rescheduling meetings. Frequently, there’s confusion about words like postpone, move forward, move back and delay. And while it’s not actually a word in Standard English, the word ‘prepone’ has reared its head recently, much to the confusion of native and non-native speakers of English alike.  In this post, we’ll take a look at the meanings of some commonly used words and phrases so you can know their meanings in the future. Then, we’ll throw them away completely and give you an email template that will let you feel confident that the recipients of your email will know where they should be and when.

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Words and phrases used when rescheduling meetings


To take place at a time later than originally scheduled

  • I postponed the meeting until Friday.
  • The meeting has been postponed until Friday.

To make someone or something late or slow

  • Our flight from Shanghai to Stuttgart was delayed by 50 minutes.
  • The problems delayed the release of the project.
move forward

For some people, you move an appointment forward by moving it to an earlier time or date. However, some cultures view the progression of time differently, so this phrase can be confusing.

  • Can we move the date of our meeting forward?
  • They moved the date of the supplier meeting forward to Friday.
move back

Again, for some people, this means to move a meeting to a later time or date. As mentioned before, this can be confusing.

  • I’m afraid we have to move the meeting back.
  • They’re getting in later than we expected, so we have to move the start back.

What’s the solution?

In order to be 100% everyone understands where they need to be and when, leave out time phrases that can be confusing and use ‘from’ and ‘to’. ‘From’ designates the old time of the meeting and ‘to’ designates the new time of the meeting. This way, there’s no confusion about if the appointment is earlier or later.

An email example on rescheduling meetings

Hi everyone,
Due to a meeting room problem, the time of the project kick-off meeting has been changed from Monday, January 13th at 11:00 in room 143 to Wednesday January 15th at 16:00 in room 324.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Rescheduling meetings can cause confusion if you don’t use the correct language and structure.  Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments area below. Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.

Following these 4 quick and easy steps, and using the phrases above, will help you have clearer communication in your meetings.  By alleviating your meeting misunderstandings, you will have faster, more productive meetings and save everyone time.  Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.


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