How to make cancellations professionally on the phone and in writing

Fingerspitzengefühl und Redegewandtheit benötigen Sie in jedem Fall,  wenn Sie Termine absagen oder verschieben müssen. Wie Sie auch im Englischen die passenden Worte dafür finden, lesen Sie jetzt in Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen. Und hier geht’s zu Ihrem GRATIS-Test ...

Making cancellations or postponing meetings and other appointments is part of the daily routine for most secretaries. You can do it perfectly in German. You’re precise and you apologise nicely. But what about when you have to make a cancellation or postpone something in English? Do you have all the right vocabulary and know the right phrases?

My tip: Whether you are cancelling or postponing on the phone or in writing, always give a genuine reason. Firstly, it’s often easier to tell the truth than to make an excuse. Secondly, if you make an excuse that is not true, you might forget what it was and get found out!

Here are some useful phrases for you to use on the phone

  • I’m afraid I have to postpone Bernhard Krause’s appointment with Mr Dixon. There has been a problem in the plant and he has to go there. Can we reschedule?
  • Would you be available on 26 March?
  • Could we possibly postpone the meeting until late afternoon?
  • Would your boss be free the following day?
  • I’m sorry about any inconvenience.

Here are some useful phrases for you to use in emails

  • I am forced to cancel this appointment, but I am still very much interested in a possible cooperation with your company.
  • Due to a change in schedule, I regret I must cancel the appointment with Sonja Brown and Marion Smith on 25 March.
  • There are two possible dates as alternatives to the cancelled appointment: …
  • I will send you an email to confirm our new appointment.
  • I am very sorry if this change of plans causes you any inconvenience.

Here are two case studies and sample letters about cancellations. And a lot practical correspondence tips for secretaries and personal assistants more.