An email is the perfect method for telling somebody you can't go to a business meeting or presentation that you've been invited to or already accepted an invitation to attend. The problem is, if you don't write it well, it can cause you problems.
But if you know both what to say and how to say it, you can write an effective email which not only reduces how annoyed the person will be with you, but will also stop them trying to change your mind and get you to go.
In the below exercise, you'll learn how to write your own emails to tell people you can't attend a meeting or an event. Through reading the three different email examples in the exercise and doing the test at the end, you'll learn not only effective things you can write in your own emails to get out of going to a meeting or an event, but also English phrases/vocabulary to make your emails both professional and polite.
Before you do this exercise, I would recommend that you read my article on 'excuses to not attend a meeting'. This explains what type of excuses to use and (more importantly) when and when not you should use them.
Examples & Exercise: Can't attend a meeting emails
Read the following three short emails where the writer is informing the person they can't attend/go to a business meeting. Two are written in a formal style and one in a less formal style. One of the emails is turning down (not accepting) an invitation to a meeting, whilst the other two are informing someone they can't attend after they have accepted an invitation.
You will be tested in the quiz that follows on the words/phrases that are in bold. So, from the context try to guess what both the meaning and the purpose/use of these words/phrases are.
Dear Mr Smith,
Thank you for the invitation to the review meeting on the 12 July. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment that I am unable to change, I will not be able to attend the meeting.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me on my mobile, 6902341899.
I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
I hope that everything's going well over there?
I'm afraid that I can't make tomorrow's meeting. Something very important has just come up and I'm going to be very busy tomorrow.
I'm sorry for the short notice, but I just found out this morning.
Is there any chance we can put the meeting back until Friday?
Let me know if that's OK for you.
Dear Miss Garland,
With reference to the upcoming review meeting on Thursday the 13 November, I am afraid that due to personal reasons, I will not be able to attend.
Would you object if we postponed the meeting to next week? If this is appropriate, what day would be convenient for you?
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me on my mobile, 1902341892.
Allow me to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.
When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.
Now that you understand the can't attend/go to a meeting vocabulary, practice them by creating your own email in English with the new words/phrases.