How to Cancel a Meeting: Roadmap to Guilt-Free Cancellations





Future of Work


Your most valuable asset is time. You can never have enough of it, and you can’t make more of it.

Time shouldn’t be wasted – be it yours or anyone else’s. In an ideal world, every meeting in your working schedule is effective and value-adding. However, that’s often just not the case.

Thus, knowing how to cancel a meeting becomes a valuable skill to possess in today’s work culture. This is especially true if you don’t want to burn bridges while gaining back productive time.

Our “How to cancel a meeting” roadmap walks you through:

  • Valid reasons for sending a meeting cancellation notice
  • Channels to cancel meetings: when to use each one & examples
  • The basics of canceling a meeting
  • How to avoid cancellations altogether

You can also access all information from this roadmap in a dedicated project template! Edit and personalize information, engage with others and access meeting cancellation resources and custom workflows.

Ready to become a well-rounded expert on canceling meetings? Read along or get started with the dedicated FREE template!

Free template on how to cancel a meeting

Valid reasons for sending a meeting cancellation notice

Cancelling a meeting can be a tricky situation, but sometimes it's necessary. When it comes to deciding whether or not to cancel a meeting, consider the reasoning.

Next up we explore some scenarios that are often perceived as justified reasons for cancelling a meeting:

  • Lack of Preparation or key information: If crucial information or resources are not available, it might be wiser to postpone the meeting to ensure a more productive discussion.
  • Unavailability of key participants: In some cases, a meeting loses its purpose if certain attendees are unable to participate. If the absence of one or more key participants would render the meeting unproductive, reschedule.
  • Double-Booking: Mistakes happen, and sometimes meetings get double-booked or overlap with other important events. In these situations, it's important to evaluate the priority of each meeting and cancel or reschedule the one with lower urgency.
  • You have no input: There are some meetings where you may not add a lot of value or input to the conversation. This is especially true if the topic at hand doesn’t involve your department, or doesn’t require your expertise.
  • Insufficient Agenda or Objectives: If the purpose or meeting agenda is unclear or lacks specific goals, it might be best to cancel. Maybe try reorganizing the meeting with a more focused objective.

Remember, before thinking about how to cancel a meeting, what are valid reasons within the organizational culture of your team?

Critically assess whether the meeting should be held and what the value of your presence is. Whether the meeting should be canceled, rescheduled or move on without you, it’s important to take action.

The meeting cancellation template highlights these reasons and more! Work together and adapt the template to reflect when meetings should be canceled within your organization.
Valid reasons to cancel a meeting

6 Channels to cancel meetings: when to use each one & examples

When canceling a meeting, it's important to choose the appropriate channel of communication to ensure that all participants are informed in a timely and professional manner. Here are some of the most relevant channels to consider when canceling a meeting:

  • Email
  • Phone call
  • Chat message
  • Calendar cancellation
  • In-person
  • Asynchronous video

1. How to cancel a meeting with a cancellation email

A cancel meeting email is a widely used and efficient method. It's suitable for most situations, particularly when you need to inform a large group of people or provide detailed information about the cancellation.

  • When to use: Use email for most cancellations, including scheduling conflicts, lack of preparation, insufficient agenda, or low attendance.
  • How to politely cancel a meeting example: "Dear team, Due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts, we need to cancel tomorrow's project update meeting. We'll reschedule for a later date and update the calendar invite. Apologies for any inconvenience.”

Learn more about using email when thinking about how to cancel a meeting through the dedicated template!

"Meetings should be like salt - a spice sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish, not poured recklessly over every forkful. Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation.” - Jason Fried co-author of "Rework"

Wondering how to write a cancellation email? We have added a few examples in the template! Think of:

  • One-on-one meeting cancellation email sample
  • Department meeting cancellation email sample
  • Client meeting cancellation email sample
  • All-hands meeting cancellation email sample
Meeting cancellation email samples

2. Phone call for urgent meeting cancellation notices

A phone call is a more personal method of communication and can be used when the situation requires a more immediate response or when dealing with sensitive matters.

  • When to use: Use phone calls for emergencies, last-minute cancellations, or when you need to convey empathy or urgency.
  • How to politely cancel a meeting example: "Hi John, I'm sorry to inform you that I have to cancel our meeting today due to a family emergency. I understand this is short notice, but I hope we can reschedule for next week.”
Learn more about using phone calls when thinking about how to cancel a meeting through the dedicated template!

3. Text message or messaging apps as a tool to cancel meetings

Text messages or messaging apps (e.g., Rock, WhatsApp) are suitable for quick and informal communication, especially when the meeting participants are already using these channels for team communication.

  • When to use: Use text messages or messaging apps for small, informal meetings, or when you need to quickly notify participants of a cancellation.
  • How to politely cancel a meeting example: "Hey all, we need to cancel today's brainstorming session as our meeting room is unavailable. Let's reschedule for next week."
Learn more about using text message when thinking about how to cancel a meeting through the dedicated template!

4. Calendar cancellation: quick but impersonal way to cancel a meeting

If you've organized the meeting using a calendar app (e.g., Google Calendar, Outlook), you can cancel the event directly in the calendar. This will automatically notify all participants about the cancellation.

  • When to use: Use calendar cancellations for meetings that are not very important or don’t require attendance as it is a rather impersonal channel.
  • How to politely cancel a meeting example: Cancel the event in the calendar app and include a brief explanation for the cancellation in the "message to attendees" section.
Learn more about using calendar cancellation when thinking about how to cancel a meeting through the dedicated template!

5. Working in the office? Here’s how to cancel that meeting In-person

If you're in close proximity to the meeting participants, or if the situation calls for a more personal touch, you can inform them of the cancellation face-to-face.

  • When to use: Use in-person communication for small, in-house meetings, or when you want to discuss the reasons for the cancellation more thoroughly.
  • How to politely cancel a meeting example: "Hi Sarah, I wanted to let you know that our meeting this afternoon has been canceled. The client had an emergency and needs to reschedule. Let's touch base later to discuss the next steps."
Learn more about how to cancel a meeting in person through the dedicated template!

6. Asynchronous video: transform information-sharing meetings into time-saving opportunities

In today's fast-paced work environment, meetings are often seen as time-consuming and sometimes even counterproductive. This is particularly true for meetings where the primary purpose is to share information, rather than foster discussion and collaboration.

By replacing these meetings with asynchronous video presentations, we can create a more efficient and informative experience for all participants.

  • When to use: project updates, training sessions, or company announcements.
Learn more about each channel and add your very own for free by getting started with our how to cancel a meeting template!
channels to cancel an email examples

How to cancel a meeting - the basics

Canceling a meeting should be done in a professional and respectful manner. Here are the steps to follow when canceling a meeting:

  1. Decide on the cancellation: Assess the situation and determine if canceling the meeting is the best course of action. Weigh the importance of the meeting against the reasons for canceling it.
  2. Choose a method of communication: Based on the context and your relationship with the participants, decide whether to use email, phone calls, text messages...
  3. Provide a clear reason: Explain the reason for the cancellation in a concise and honest manner. This helps maintain transparency and ensures that participants understand the circumstances behind the decision.
  4. Propose rescheduling or alternatives: If appropriate, offer a new date and time for the meeting or suggest alternative ways to address the meeting's objectives (e.g., via task management, smaller group discussions or maybe even a video).
  5. Update the event in the calendar: Modify the original calendar event to reflect the cancellation or delete it entirely. If the meeting has been rescheduled, create a new calendar event and invite the participants.

By following these steps, you can cancel a meeting professionally and courteously, while minimizing the impact on the participants and maintaining strong working relationships.

In order to keep track of every step in the process, using a task management tool can be handy. The template includes a to-do, doing and done list where you can add meetings you have to cancel.

"Meeting culture is something that needs to change — there’s no reason to have eight hours of meetings in one day. Meetings are not how humans are most productive." - Claire Hughes Johnson, COO of Stripe

Make sure the correct meetings are canceled, everyone is brought up to date and next steps have been set. It’s as simple as reviewing the list and moving the task card across columns to stay organized at work.

Get started with the meeting cancellation template today for free!
How to cancel a meeting workflow

How to avoid canceling meetings altogether

It may not always be possible to avoid sending out meeting cancellation notices altogether. Nevertheless, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of cancellations and minimize their impact.

Here are some workflow changes we implemented in order to avoid scheduling unproductive meetings on a day-to-day basis:

  1. Work asynchronously by default: Asynchronous work is a type of setup where not every team member has to be online and working at the same time. This gives you more flexibility when you want to get work done without having to wait for others.
  2. Reduce context switching: It’s best to reduce the number of tools your team has to shuffle between. Doing this makes it easier to keep track of progress for different projects, which can lessen follow up meetings for progress.
  3. Improve documentation: Create clear guidelines on how you store documents so everyone is aligned. Explore having walkthroughs through asynchronous video recordings instead of meetings.

By avoiding cancelled meetings and having a more efficient process, you can focus on the work at hand. In the long run, this can greatly help you and your team achieve your company goals and objectives.

How to cancel a meeting template: get started today!

In conclusion, implementing a process for meeting cancellation notices is an excellent way to ensure clear communication with all involved parties.

By incorporating tasks, notes, files, chat, and meeting features, the how to cancel a meeting template enables efficient collaboration with anyone. Don't hesitate to get started and manage meetings while fostering an organized environment for all team members.

Give it a try and experience the benefits of a well-structured approach to handling meeting cancellations to maintain productivity.

How to cancel a meeting free template

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