How to Cancel a Meeting and What to Do Next

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One of the most valuable assets in the professional world (and in general) 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. This is why staying organized at work and sticking to your commitments – such as meetings – is so important. 

In an ideal world, we would be able to attend every meeting we’ve committed to. However, that’s just not the case sometimes. Under certain circumstances, knowing how to cancel a meeting becomes your only option. To give you an idea, we’ve listed down some common scenarios below.

Valid reasons for sending a meeting cancellation notice

Whether you’re doing it through a cancellation email, a quick phone call, or a text/audio message, sending a meeting cancellation notice shouldn’t be done without a good reason. Here are a few examples of why you might need to cancel a meeting:

You need personal time off 

If you’re feeling ill or have a personal emergency to attend to, it may be best to cancel the meeting. While this one may sound obvious, many people still continue meeting with team members while feeling sick. Other times, they put off dealing with a family emergency to continue working. 

This can be counterproductive because working while you’re unwell or stressed won’t be helpful for you or your team. You may just end up being out of it or being unfocused. While work and meetings are important, taking care of yourself and your loved ones should come first. Don’t sacrifice important matters for a meeting, and cancel if you really need to.

You have minimal input on the meeting topic

There are some projects where you need to have oversight, but you may not need to attend all the meetings for it. This is especially true if the topic at hand doesn’t involve your department, or doesn’t require your expertise.

You have more urgent tasks to do

When it comes to work, it’s important to prioritize the most urgent matters. This can sometimes mean having to miss one meeting to finish a deliverable, or meet a project deadline.

There is a conflict in your schedule

A schedule conflict can mean anything from being invited to two meetings that overlap to having a sudden change in your schedule. This can affect the rest of your tasks and commitments. In this case you need to choose what to prioritize. It can happen that the most reasonable outcome is sending a ‘meeting canceled’ notice.

These are just some of the reasons why you should know how to cancel a meeting. Remember, you shouldn’t cancel a meeting via email, message, or phone call without a good reason. 

Should people be canceling meetings more often?

Contrary to what some may believe, a canceled meeting isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s good to be mindful of which meetings you schedule and attend. For one, picking the essential meetings is good practice for discerning which of your tasks are urgent. In the long run, it will help you discern each meeting’s relevancy to your tasks and your goals. 

Additionally, having too many meetings can affect employee morale and breed a toxic work culture. Unnecessary meetings, or meetings that could have been summarized in an email, take up time that could have been used for executing tasks. Overall, having too many meetings just gets in the way of productivity in your organization.

Many companies all over the world have also adopted an asynchronous work setup, which goes hand in hand with using remote tools to work from almost anywhere. At the end of the day, you don’t have to say yes to every meeting you’re invited to. 

How to cancel a meeting - the basics

Here are our tips to minimizing the inconvenience of a canceled meeting.

Cancel well in advance

You want to make sure you give your ‘meeting canceled’ notice as soon as possible. This will show to whoever you were supposed to meet with that you’re also taking their schedule into consideration. It helps avoid wasting time to prepare for a meeting that isn’t going to happen. 

Provide a reason for the cancellation

Once you decide to cancel a meeting, make sure you provide the reason for it. People don’t like being kept in the dark, and explaining your reason will help them understand the necessity of the cancellation. Doing this is a basic act of courtesy, especially since you would be asking them to adjust their schedules.

Don’t cancel in a rush

If you want to know how to politely cancel a meeting, one good example is being clear from the get-go. Make sure you are direct with what you want to say, and that you remain professional and respectful.

It’s also good to take ample time in crafting a meeting cancellation email or message, or giving a phone call. If you’re sending out a written notice, ensure that there are no typos or grammatical errors in your message.

Suggest next steps

After canceling a meeting, don’t leave the other person hanging. Initiative a follow-up by suggesting the next steps. You can either recommend other dates and times for the meeting, or ask them about their next available schedule. If there is anything that should be immediately discussed, make sure to address them in your meeting cancellation email, message, or call. 

Following these tips is a good start when it comes to canceling meetings. Always remember to be intentional and receptive to the needs of whoever you were supposed to meet with. Canceling meetings may sometimes lead to difficult conversations, but open communication will help both parties come to an agreement as soon as possible. 

Different channels for meeting cancellations: pros and cons

Now that you know the usual reasons for canceling meetings, as well as some tips on how to do it, it’s time to delve into the channels you can use. Note that each has its pros and cons. It’s ultimately up to you to decide which channel can best get your message across. Make sure that whichever channel you use, you apply relevant workplace communication strategies when necessary.

Email

Sending a cancellation email is one of the most common ways to go. That’s because most people communicate and schedule meetings through this channel. If you’re wondering how to write a cancellation email, then read on for some very simple steps.

First, any well-structured email has a subject line, an introduction, a body, a call-to-action, and a closing phrase. Start with a clear and easy to understand subject line. Make sure your recipient understands from the get-go that you sent the email to cancel a meeting. You should then use a professional statement for your introduction. If you want to add a touch of personalization, you can address your recipient by his or her name. Just make sure you get the spelling of their name right!

The body is where you explain that you’re sending a ‘cancel meeting’ email. Briefly state why you have to cancel, and apologize for the change of plans. Afterwards, you can include a call to action regarding their next availability should you opt to reschedule. 

Close the email in a way that shows your appreciation for their understanding. Make sure to provide your contact details as well should they have any questions. 

In terms of length, make sure you thoroughly explain your reason, but don’t draw out the message if unnecessary. A paragraph or two will do. Make sure also to be professional, as an email is often used as the official communication channel at work.

If you’re looking for templates on how to politely cancel a meeting via email, here are some examples:

One-on-one meeting cancellation email sample

Subject: Request to reschedule tomorrow’s one-on-one meeting

Hi Justin,

I hope you’ve been safe and well. I’m writing to ask if it would be possible to reschedule our one-on-one meeting tomorrow. I have been feeling unwell since this morning, and I’ll be on sick leave until tomorrow.

My sincerest apologies for this change in schedule, and I would be happy to reschedule at your earliest convenience. Do let me know what date and time works for you.

Thank you for your understanding, and stay healthy!

Sincerely,

Jane

Department meeting cancellation email sample

Subject: Weekly Marketing team meeting canceled 

Hi team, 

I hope you’ve all been well. I’m writing to inform you that tomorrow’s department meeting has been canceled. I have been feeling unwell since this morning, and I’ll be on sick leave until tomorrow.

My sincerest apologies for having to move this meeting. We can reschedule the meeting for this Friday, 2 PM. Do let me know if this works for everyone so that I can resend the calendar invitations.

Thank you for your understanding, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

Sincerely,

Jane

All-hands meeting cancellation email sample

Subject: Company meeting postponed

Hi team,

I hope you’ve all had a productive week so far. I’m sending this email to inform you that our company-wide meeting has been postponed to a later date. I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause, but I must attend to an urgent business matter.  

Please stay tuned for further announcements on the new date of our company meeting. Thank you for your understanding, and please stay safe and healthy!

Sincerely,

Jane

These are just some examples of how to write a cancellation email. Now that you know how to structure it, it’s time to look at its pros and cons.

Pros of a meeting cancellation email 

One of the pros of canceling via email is that it’s one of the most common forms of communication in a workplace. This means it’ll be easier to loop everyone in, especially if you’re canceling a department or company-wide meeting. Additionally, sending a notice via email is a good way to keep track of your communications with your colleagues or clients. 

Cons of a meeting cancellation email

Remember that when you cancel a meeting via email, the people you message may not be able to read it right away. This is especially true if you’re canceling on short notice. 

Online message

Another way you can cancel or postpone a meeting is by sending an online message. Some teams and clients prefer to touch base on online messaging applications and productivity tools such as Rock, Slack, or Telegram. 

When sending an online message to cancel a meeting, be direct and concise. You don’t want to be sending a very long block of text in the chat. You should also refrain from sending too many messages to get your point across. Limit it to sending one or two separate messages. 

Here’s an example of canceling a meeting through an online message:

Good afternoon, Justin!

I’m messaging to see if we can postpone tomorrow’s Marketing meeting. A family emergency has occurred, and it’s something that needs my immediate attention. Because of this, I won’t be coming to work tomorrow. 

I sincerely apologize for this cancellation. Do let me know when your next availability is so that we can reschedule the meeting. Thank you so much!

When sending a cancellation message, remember to be brief but never vague. Don’t just say that you can’t attend without stating the reason as the message may seem insincere. Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of sending a cancellation message.

Pros of an online message cancellation

Compared to an email, sending an online message may be a faster way of reaching whoever you were supposed to meet with. This means that for times when you have to cancel on short notice, it can help you reschedule as soon as possible. 

Cons of an online message cancellation

One thing that you have to be mindful of when sending out an online message is if you have any typos or grammatical errors in the text. Make sure you don’t, as having these in your message may make you look unprofessional.

Video recording

If you want a more personal way of canceling a meeting, you can try sending a video recording of yourself. This would work best if it’s an important meeting that you unfortunately have to miss. Keep the video short and sweet. You should also explore different tools that can help you effectively get your message across, such as Loom. 

Make sure that you have an appropriate background, and that there is minimal background noise wherever you are recording. Furthermore, You should look professional and sharp in the video. 

To help avoid making any mistakes, try writing down what you want to say first. Next, practice reading it out loud. Do this a few times before you record so that it can help you be more comfortable in front of the camera. 

Keep the same structure as what you would have in a cancellation email or message – talk about canceling or moving the meeting, why you need to do so, and next steps in terms of rescheduling the meeting if necessary.

Curious about the pros and cons of sending a video recording to cancel a meeting? Here are some of them:

Pros of a video recording cancellation 

As previously mentioned, doing a video recording can feel more personal to whoever you’re cancelling on. That’s because it’s clear that you took time in planning how you were going to cancel. Additionally, a video recording can work great if you want to bring up points from your side that may help the team move forward with the meeting despite your absence. 

Cons of a video recording cancellation 

One thing about doing a video recording is that it takes preparation and time. You have to find a suitable set-up for the video, and you have to make sure you look presentable. You also have to draft a message in advance, and then see how you can effectively say it on your video.

Audio message

There’s also the option of cancelling a meeting by sending an audio message. If this is the channel you prefer, it’s best to keep your audio message under a minute. Similar to the other ways of cancelling a meeting, the key is being professional and straight to the point. 

Send an audio message only if you’re somewhere with minimal background noise. Make sure that the recipient of your message can hear you clearly.


Here is a sample template of what you might say in an audio message:

Hi Justin! I’m just leaving you this message to say that I have to cancel our meeting this afternoon. I apologize for the short notice, but I have a family emergency that I must attend to. Do let me know what date and time is most convenient for you to reschedule. Thanks so much, and stay safe!

Although sending an audio message may seem simple enough, it also has its pros and cons:

Pros of an audio message cancellation 

Sending an audio message is one of the quickest ways you can cancel a meeting. It’s also very convenient, as many communication apps already have built-in features for recording audio messages.

Cons of an audio message cancellation 

Sending an audio message may be seen as less polite than the other ways previously discussed. That’s because it’s not a very formal way to cancel a meeting. It may be best to do this only if you’re unable to send an email, message, or video recording.

These are just ways on how to cancel a meeting. Remember, choosing the most appropriate channel to do so is an important aspect of canceling. Furthermore, no matter the reason for your cancellation, you should be honest and direct about it.

What to do after canceling your meeting

Once you’ve canceled a meeting, that doesn’t mean your work is done. The things you do after the cancellation are equally important. Here are some reminders on things you should do once you’ve officially canceled a meeting:

Follow up

Follow through even if you reschedule or cancel a meeting. This means reaching out to whoever you were meant to meet with to start a conversation.  If you sent a cancellation email, you can move the conversation to a one-on-one or group space so you can stay in touch and collaborate without needing to meet.   

When you use platforms like Rock, you can also add an invite link or a quick connect link to your cancellation so that the other party can easily reschedule or reach you. 

Get started on work

If there are relevant items you can work on in the meantime, you should do those first. Don’t stay idle just because you weren’t able to attend the meeting. Strategize on how you can stay productive and on-time for the project despite the canceled meeting.

Set up a meeting agenda

If you plan to reschedule a meeting, try setting up a meeting agenda. This will help both you and whoever you are meeting with be aligned on the goal of the meeting. It’s also a more efficient way of moving forward.

There are a number of meeting agenda examples that you can follow to simplify the process, so make sure to check those out. Plus if you’re set to meet online, don’t forget to go through these virtual meeting best practices!

Make sure you do these three important things after canceling your meeting. It will help you be more productive and will lessen any disruptions in the workflow of your team.

How to avoid canceling meeting altogether

If you want to avoid sending out meeting cancellation notices often, then get to the root cause of the problem. This means having measures in place to help you lessen the number of times you cancel or move a meeting. Here are some that you can start with:

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.

One great tool for asynchronous work is Rock, a holistic task management and communication tool. Working asynchronously means that communication revolves around Rock’s mini-apps such as Chat, Notes, Tasks, Files and Topics. It ultimately creates a working environment where unnecessary meetings can be avoided.

Reduce context switching

Having too many work platforms for communication and task management can be tiresome. That’s why 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.

Improve documentation 

Being disorganized can be the downfall of any team, especially when it comes to files and company information. Create clear guidelines on how you store documents so everyone is aligned. 

You can also explore having walkthroughs through asynchronous video recordings instead of meetings. This lessens the meetings you have to attend, plus it allows you to revisit different topics in the future should you need to. 

Use modern channels for client communication

Knowing how to avoid meeting cancellations isn’t just important for internal meetings. It’s important for client meetings, too. Thankfully, today’s communication channels can help you stay in touch with clients while also reducing meetings with them.

For example, Rock helps you collaborate with clients while also encouraging asynchronous work. This means everyone in the team can stay aligned without having to hop into a call or be in meetings for most of the time. This makes both internal and external communication and task management easier.

By avoiding meeting cancellations 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.

Optimize your company processes with Rock

You now know all the basics about how to cancel a meeting. But more than that, you have information on how you can lessen canceled and unnecessary meetings altogether.

 

Rock is a multi-functional communication and task management tool, built for asynchronous collaboration.The Chat, Tasks, Topics, Notes, and Files mini-apps functionalities make it easy to reduce the number of meetings and make the most out of the necessary ones.

By reducing the number of meetings you have, you will in effect lessen the number of meetings you have to cancel. Prioritize your company’s productivity and efficiency by giving Rock a try today!

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