Writing an effective email of invitation (to a meeting, an event, a business meal etc...) is more difficult than most people think. For an email of invitation to work (i.e. the person agrees to go), it's not just about telling the person what, when and where the meeting or event is and asking them to confirm if they can go; you also need to make them want to attend what you are inviting them to.

Although the meeting or event may seem important to you, it may not to the people you're inviting. So you need to persuade them it is. And you do this by making it sound interesting, useful or necessary for them.

In addition to convincing them of the importance, you need to use the right type of vocabulary in your email. Vocabulary and phrases which are polite, clear and make them do what you want them to.

To learn how to write good emails of invitation, I have created the below online exercise. This exercise uses two examples of good business invitation emails (the first to work colleagues for a meeting and the second for customers for an event). Use these examples to work out what you need to write in one (what type of things you say and the English vocabulary/phrases to say them) and how (what structure you need to use).

To persuade somebody to go to a meeting they said they couldn't go to, see the online exercise on 'how to write an email to make somebody attend a meeting'.

To see exercises and examples for over 20 other types of business emails and advice on writing them, go to our email exercise menu.


Exercise & Examples: Emails of invitation

Read the following two examples of different types of business emails of invitation. When reading them, guess what the meaning and use of the words/phrases in bold are from the context (the sentence) you find them in. For example, what does 'I am writing on behalf of' mean and why is it used in the following sentence?:

'My name is Sue Jenkins and I am writing on behalf of Reef Technologies plc.'

By doing this, it'll help you to both remember them and use them correctly in your own emails. When you have finished reading the examples, do the quiz at the end which will make sure that you do and when you have completed it, give you information on how they are used and why.

Email 1

Hi Ian,

We're holding a meeting on the current problems with the computer systems and I'd appreciate it if you could come. Having somebody like yourself there from the legal department is important because of the problems we've had with the loss of customer data.

The meeting will take place next Thursday at 2pm in meeting room 3 in the Corley Building in Leeds.

If there's anything you would like to discuss in the meeting, send it to me by email and I'll include it in the meeting's agenda.

Let me know as soon as possible if you can attend.

Regards,


David Mitchell
IT Project Manager

Email 2

Dear Mr Smith,

My name is Sue Jenkins and I am writing on behalf of Reef Technologies plc.

We are pleased to announce that we are sponsoring a series of presentations on the future of renewable energy. The presentations are going to be performed by world-renowned experts in the field (for example Dr Josh Bartlett from MIT and Mrs Jennifer Woods from Clean Future inc.) and will consider future advances in the technology of renewable technology.

Due to your company having worked with Reef Technologies plc in the past, we would like to invite you to the event. The event will be held at the Randalls Conference Centre in Leeds between 3pm and 8pm on the 12 April 2013. If you require directions to the venue, please let me know.

If you would like to attend, please confirm your attendance by replying to this email by the 18 March 2013.

If you have any questions about the event, please don't hesitate to contact me by email (on sjenkins@reeftech.com) or by mobile/cell (on 07867 7433123).

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours faithfully,


Sue Jenkins
PR Manager
Reef Technologies plc


Click to see 20 other email/letter exercises & examples

Quiz:

Now answer each of the below 11 questions with one of the phrases in bold from the above emails. To check your answers, press the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz.

1. A formal way of saying 'will take place', is
     

The event will be held:
(phrase) This phrase is used when you want to tell a person where and when something (a conference, meeting etc...) will happen. It is commonly used in formal invitations ('will take place' is used in less formal emails) and is followed by details of the location, date and the time of the event. For example, 'the event will be held at the Ringtree Hotel on the 12 January from 10am'. It doesn't matter if you say the date or the location first, but the time should always be the last thing you write.

'Event' is used in English to mean a large social/public occasion like a concert, ceremony, conference/congress, presentation etc... If you want you to be more specific, you can replace 'event' with the actual thing you are inviting them to, e.g. 'the concert will be held...' 'Event' is not used to mean business meetings or meals (which are generally not large or public), so in these cases, you should use 'meeting' or 'meal' instead.

In Spanish: " el evento se celebrará".

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2. A polite way of saying 'I want you to come' or 'you should come', is
     

I'd appreciate it if you could come:
(phrase) This polite phrase is used to recommend/request that the person receiving the invitation goes to the event or meeting. It's a politer way of saying 'I want you to come'. You normally use this phrase as part of the invitation (e.g. 'there's a meeting on tuesday and I'd appreciate it if you could come'). You can also replace 'come' in this phrase with 'make it' (sounds informal) or 'attend' (sounds more formal) with no change in meaning.

Although you can use this in formal invitations, I would only use this phrase in informal or less formal invitations. For formal ones, I would use 'I would be delighted if you could come' instead.

In Spanish: "le agradecería que pudiera asistir".

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3. A formal phrase which is used to say which company you work for/represent, is
     

I am writing on behalf of:
(phrase) If you are writing a formal invitation and have never had any contact with the person before, you need to explain who you are and who you work for in the first line of the email. This is not just used for politeness but so the person receiving it will know it's an authentic invitation and not just spam. 'I am writing on behalf of' is very formal and used to do this.

You would start the email by saying who you are, followed by 'and' and then 'I am writing on behalf of' and then by the name of the company/organisation. For example, 'my name is Chris Green and I am writing on behalf of UNESCO'. You can also use the name of a person instead of a company/organisation.

A less formal way of saying this phrase is 'has asked me'. But when using this, you need to use the name of a person and place it in front of the phrase, e.g. 'my name's Chris Green and Peter Smith has asked me to invite you to...'.

In Spanish: "escribo en representación de".

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4. An informal phrase used to ask somebody to confirm quickly if they can attend/go to the event/meeting, is
     

Let me know as soon as possible:
(phrase) This informal phrase is like a polite order (because of 'as soon as possible') and is commonly used to ask somebody to confirm something. It's not only used for invitations but also if you want somebody to confirm some information. For invitations, it should be followed by 'if you can attend/come/make it'. It is always used at the very end of the email.

I wouldn't recommend that you use it in formal invitations. In formal writing, it is not polite to make orders (even if they are polite). Instead you should use 'if you would like to attend, please confirm your attendance by the 13 March', which basically does the same thing but is a request and sounds a lot more politier.

In Spanish: "hágamelo saber lo antes posible".

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5. A phrase at the very end of an email which tells the person that you are waiting for them to confirm, is
     

I look forward to receiving your reply:
(phrase) This formal phrase is used at the end of the email as a polite way to remind the person reading it that they should/have to confirm the invitation or contact you. For invitations you can replace 'receiving your reply' with 'hearing from you' with no change in meaning (e.g. 'I look forward to hearing from you').

These phrases are common in both formal and less formal emails (like emails to work colleagues), but are not used in informal emails.

These phrases are always written at the end of the email or letter, just before 'yours sincerely', 'regards,'etc...

In Spanish: "quedo a la espera de recibir respuesta por su parte".

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6. A less formal way of saying where the event 'will be held', is
     

Will take place:
(phrase) This phrase is used when you want to tell a person where and when something (a conference, meeting etc...) will happen. It is commonly used in less formal invitations ('will be held' is used in formal emails). This phrase follows the name of the thing you are inviting them to (e.g. 'the meeting', 'the presentation' etc...) and is then followed by details of the location, date and the time of the event. For example, 'the event will take place at the Ringtree Hotel on the 12 January from 10am'. It doesn't matter in which order you write the date, the location or the time.

In Spanish: "que tendrá lugar".

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7. An formal phrase used to ask somebody to confirm if they can attend/go to the event/meeting, is
     

If you would like to attend, please confirm your attendance by:
(phrase) This formal and polite phrase is used in invitations to ask somebody to confirm with you if they can attend an event or meeting. It's polite because it only asks them to confirm if they want to go (they don't have to do anything if don't).

This phrase can be followed by saying either 'replying to this email by' and then the date (with no time) that you need a confirmation by (e.g. '...replying to this email by the 13 March') or just by the date (e.g. 'the 13 March'). For example, 'if you would like to attend, please confirm your attendance by 13 March'. It is always used at the end of the email.

This phrase is only used in formal emails. For less formal invitations, you should use 'let me know by the 13 March if you can attend/come/make it' instead.

In Spanish: "si quisiera asistir, se ruega confirmación de asistencia".

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8. A formal phrase used to ask somebody to attend/go to an event, is
     

We would like to invite you to:
(phrase) This phrase is used to actually invite somebody to something. It's basically a very polite and formal way of saying 'do you want to go/come to'. It is followed by the name of the event/thing you are inviting them to (e.g. 'the car markers conference', 'the presentation', 'opening' etc...). For example, 'we would like to invite you to the U2 concert at Wembley Stadium'.

This phrase is only used when the invitation is for an event which is something special or large (e.g. an opening of something, an art exhibition, a presentation etc...). It shouldn't be used for invitations to business meetings or business meals, where you don't have to be so formal and you can use 'are you available to come' or 'can you make' instead.

In Spanish: "nos gustaría invitarle a".

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9. A not very formal phrase used to introduce what type of event/meeting you are going to have, is
     

We're holding:
(verb) This commonly used phrase is used to introduce the type and name of the event you are having. In fact, 'we're holding' in this context has the same meaning as 'we're having' or 'we've organised' (both of which can be used instead).

For meetings and most non-formal business invitations (sent to work colleagues or suppliers/customer you know well), it is very common to start the email with this phrase and then follow it by the name/type of the event and sometimes its date and time. For example, 'we're holding a department meeting at 3pm on Friday'. This is then followed by the sentence where you invite the person.

You can use 'I' instead of 'we' if appropriate.

In Spanish: "estamos llevando a cabo".

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10. A phrase used to offer to send the person directions to get to the place/location, is
     

If you require directions to the venue, please let me know:
(phrase) This formal phrase is used for politeness and for people who you think haven't visited the location of the event before. A less formal way to say the same is 'let me know if you need directions'.

To be honest, as most people now have smart phones, it is not really necessary to send directions. As long as they have the address of the place (which you should include in the email), they'll be able to find it. Even so, I would still include this type of phrase in formal invitations, because it is still polite to offer directions.

In Spanish: "si necesita saber el camino al lugar, por favor hágamelo saber".

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11. A very formal phrase used to introduce what type of event you are inviting the person to, is
     

We are pleased to announce:
(phrase) This phrase is used to introduce the name/type of event you are inviting somebody to. It is very formal and should only be used for special or important events (e.g. a charity event, a large party, an important presentation etc...) that you or your company have organised or sponsored. It shouldn't be used for invitations to business meetings or to events that you have just bought tickets or seats for (like a concert). In these cases 'we would like to invite you to' is sufficient.

'We are pleased to announce' is followed by 'that we have sponsored/organised' and then by details of the event. For example, 'we are pleased to announce that we have organised a charity casino night on the evening of Friday 13 March'. This is then followed by a sentence where you then invite the person.

A less formal way of saying the above example is 'we're holding a charity casino night on the evening of Friday 13 March'.

In Spanish: "nos complace anunciar".

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Practice

Now that you understand the new vocabulary, practice them by creating your own email of invitation.

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