How To
6 min read

How to Write an Email to Postpone an Event

Francisco Quintas

June 2, 2022

No one enjoys canceling plans, but we have all needed to do it or suffered the consequences, whether for personal reasons or a professional meeting. While it's certainly a drag to receive an email with a postponement request, one could argue that being the one asking for a postponement is even more of an inconvenience.

Getting your thoughts across via email can be a daunting task, but it's also a great tool to use when you want to reach out to the multiple receivers involved in the event. This article will cover the ins and outs to help you put your thoughts to paper and develop a clear and well-written piece. 

We will also detail how to ensure that the recipient won't resent you for postponing an event you had agreed upon by showcasing a few best practices to adopt when reaching out with the bad news. 

Once you know you will need to postpone, make sure you follow these guidelines if you want to up your chances of success for rearranging the event.

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Start with a sincere apology

First things first, after you decide to postpone and what that entails, you need to apologize. If both parties had agreed on a date, it's only fair you apologize for the inconvenience that is postponing the event. In this new era of the digital economy, everyone is busy and on a tight schedule, so coming through as honestly bothered for having to cancel on a plan should be your priority.

Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's, and explaining that you absolutely had to cancel right at the beginning of your email is essential.

Genuine apologies can go a long way and shouldn't be fake. If you try and make excuses, the chances are that you won't be convincing, and there could be some resentment on the other end (and rightfully so).

The key to sounding sincere is being remorseful in the first place, but focusing on the reason for the postponement will paint a clear picture of why you can't make it for this particular event.

Explain why you need to postpone

Knowing you need to focus on the reason for the postponement is one thing, but getting it into practice is another. In order to get your point across, you need to choose your words carefully to make sure you sound apologetic.

Almost 70% of communication is nonverbal. Our writing needs to be transparent to avoid any possible misunderstandings by losing access to facial expressions, gestures, and speech tone. If that is the case for any type of writing, you need to be extra careful if you are designing a postponement request email.

Here are a few phrasing ideas for you to get inspired by:

  • Because of unforeseen circumstances, I am unable to attend because...
  • We apologize for the short notice, but we are unfortunately unable to attend this year's event because...
  • Please accept our sincere apologies, but we regret that we must cancel our participation in your event due to...
  • We will be unable to participate in your event this year due to...

These are just a few pointers, but how you introduce your 'why' can make a world's difference in maintaining a healthy relationship with whom you are canceling on.

People often get caught up in trying to give an extensive explanation for why it happened, but the name of the game here is simply being concise and eliminating any fluff. The more you try to over-explain why the postponement is imperative, the higher the chances of whoever is reading isn’t buying it.

Suggest a new date as soon as possible

Next up, you should immediately try to reschedule. If you don't, you could end up sounding disingenuous. It is crucial to show effort in this step since you don't want to risk looking like you simply lost interest in the event you previously agreed on.

Finding a new date is usually no picnic. As stated before, everyone has busy work and personal schedules, and making sure everyone involved can attend this new suggested date can be tricky.

If you currently aren't able to propose a new date due to something outside of your control, tell them when they should expect news from you regarding the rescheduling. Ideally, this should be only a few days down the line, as you don't want to keep them waiting after the postponement request.

Asking for their availability is also a great place to start if they can give you a list of possible target dates. If they come forward with a date or a few options, try your best to arrange your other appointments around them to agree on a new date. 

Since you are the one needing to postpone, go the extra mile and ensure you will be available on their suggested date. Proactively contact anyone involved to confirm everyone can attend the newly proposed date.

Offer to answer questions or provide more information

A perfect way to end the postponement request email is by offering further details to clarify why you needed to cancel in the first place. Communication and transparency are the basis of any great partnership so let them know you can give more information if necessary. Working together towards the primary goal of further explanation may help find a way to reschedule the event, making it an important piece to include in your postponement email.

Sharing your personal contact information is an excellent way to cultivate a more intimate relationship with whomever you are emailing. Giving your cell phone number is one great way to show you want to be held accountable and further your relationship.

After offering to clarify and sharing contact details to facilitate the postponement efforts easily, make sure you help answer any questions the recipient may have. Whether they are related to the reason for the postponement, the event itself, or even the new date you proposed earlier. Including these will help to entice for a reply that is understanding because you don't want to risk having resentment on the other end.

If you were truthful and straightforward, the other party probably wouldn't request any further information about the postponement, but offering to do so adds a nice touch and further develops your honest efforts. That, combined with sharing a personal contact in your postponement email, will go a long way in promoting a positive follow-up.

Now that you’ve apologized, proposed some new dates, and offered any further explanation, you may need to get into other email sections depending on your situation.

Propose refunds

If there was a financial element tied to the event you were attending, you should always offer the other party a refund or give out further information about refunding policies. Again, maintaining a good connection with your email recipients should be the main focus. If that's relevant, offering a refund will transparently show that you have noble intentions, and postponing was absolutely necessary.

You could also offer another option of allowing them to use their payment towards the newly proposed dates if they prefer. If possible, present them with a discount for a future event to show good faith. Either way, they won’t feel like they are getting ripped off.

Provide an FAQ section

The better you position yourself in this email, the better the outcome. Try to get ahead of the game and present any questions and answers the other parties involved will likely have. 

Giving out solutions on a silver platter before they have the chance to get back to you is a sure-fire way to promote synergy and ultimately lead to a seamless rescheduling experience.

Key takeaways

Time is of the essence 

When it comes to postponing an event, do it promptly and professionally.

Let's face it: we are always short on time. We need to accomplish so much, and there are only so many hours in a day. Needing to postpone an event happens to the best of us, and there is no shame in occasionally failing to come through on an appointment. The key to overcoming this is to send the email as soon as possible.

If you stray and lose focus and start delaying the actual postponement email, you will miss out on possible dates that may become filled with events either you or your recipient will need to attend. By getting the first painful email out of the way, you'll be one step closer to being on good terms with a rescheduled date set for that particular occasion.

Being clear and transparent is the name of the game

It might sound cliché and repetitive, but as with all interpersonal relationships, saying what you mean and being cordial will surmount any issues that otherwise might arise after an event cancellation.

Setting the tone early and putting a sincere apology to paper is your best bet at making sure the recipient will accept the apology and want to reschedule the event and accept your new proposed date.

Postponing an event can be tricky, especially if you're doing it via email. The main thing to focus on is sounding honest and upfront. The last thing you want is to come across as unapologetic and dismissive. If you're the one postponing an event, there better be a valid reason for it, or else whoever is on the other side of the screen might feel like an afterthought.

Stay factual and keep it short, and your chances of receiving a positive reply will skyrocket. With this guide, you have the blueprint to the perfect postponement email strategy, so get to typing!

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