As an InCorporate Trainer, I provide business English training and support to an engineering multinational within their offices. Most of my participants attend meetings with clients, partners and colleagues, and sometimes it’s necessary to reschedule a meeting via email. My participants are concerned about the tone of the email, letting others down, and losing trust and credibility. Based on my work with them, here are a few examples, tips and phrases that you can use when you need to reschedule a meeting in English.
Reschedule with as much notice as possible
This gives others the chance to use their time as efficiently as possible and reduces the impact and inconvenience. Waiting until the last minute to reschedule the meeting, means no one else will have a chance to schedule another activity during this time. If it happens frequently it damages your emotional bank account. As you can see from the example mail below, the reason for the change has been given. Transparency is valued and builds trust. If you have a reasonable reason for rescheduling the meeting and you share this, others will find the change easier to accept. If you are informing them a few days in advance a polite email to is usually fine. This email has 3 steps:
- Shares the reason why
- Says sorry for the inconvenience
- Suggests another time
Reschedule at the last minute
How you handle rescheduling your meeting at the last minute depends very much on whom you’re meeting, why you are meeting and how big a problem it is to reschedule the day before. Sickness and family disasters aside, rescheduling on the day of the meeting really does deserve a personal phone call. Using the phone is personal, shows you care and also speeds up the process of finding a new date that fits both sides. On those very rare occasions when you need to cancel a meeting an hour before then get ready to eat humble pie. Again, do it by phone, apologize, explain why and show you want to find a new date – even if you can’t do this right then and there. Then consider showing you appreciate their patience by following up later with a thank you email. For example …
Explaining the reason
- There is an urgent work-related problem which I need to solve.
- I’ve been called away to deal with a problem.
- I’ve been double booked and need to prioritize the client meeting. I hope you understand.
- I need to cover for a colleague who is out of the office for several days.
- I have a family situation I need to prioritize.
- I appreciate your flexibility.
- Thank you in advance for your understanding.
- I really appreciate your support/help.
Phrases for apologizing
- I’m sorry, I’m afraid I will need to move the date of our meeting.
- Can we please find a new date? I’m really sorry, things have changed on my side.
- I’m truly sorry but I can’t make the day/time we planned.
- I apologize for changing things last minute.
- I’m sorry about this, I was looking forward to our meeting.
Suggesting an alternative meeting time
- Does X, Y, or Z work for you?
- I can offer X or Y. If neither of those fit, please make a couple of suggestions and I will do my best to make it work.
- I’m available on X, or Y, at A or B.
- I can offer… / I’m free on…
- Anytime on Friday works me.
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