One of the mainstays of life is making and keeping appointments. Many people consider “an appointment” to mean a doctor’s visit or a job interview or other more formal. However, it is important to realize that such activities as meeting a friend for lunch or dinner, going to a concert with friends, or having work done on your flat are all appointments.
Setting and handling appointments is a must for those learning business English and require some basic organizational skills. The ability to set appointments, both formal and informal, changing or cancelling appointments, and confirming appointments efficiently and clearly will help you efficiently manage your time, help you be more productive, and help alleviate stress.
In this post, we will give you some tips for setting and managing your schedule, show you how to make an appointment in English by phone and email, how to cancel an appointment, how to change the date or time of an appointment, apologize for changes and how to ask for a confirmation.
Use a day planner or digital calendar. These help you plan and organize your day. Appointments should be written in your planner as you make them. One of the advantages of a digital calendar, such as Google Calendar, is that you have access on any device and can quickly refer to in when making new appointments.
The first task every morning should be looking at your calendar so that you can picture and plan your day.
If you have a number of appointments to make at one time rank them in terms of importance. Make sure you schedule the most important one first in order to leave yourself the most flexibility.
Try to schedule appointments that are in the same general area on the same day. This will save on time and expense.
Leave yourself a cushion of between 15 and 20 minutes in travel time to arrive at an appointment. This will help you deal with traffic or transit delays.
Make a printed phone list each day for your appointment’s contact. This can come in very handy if your mobile service is disrupted.
You should make an appointment by calling or by email. Do not try to make appointments by text, unless you are simply asking a good friend if they would like to have lunch.
When making an appointment you should give the person your name and the reason for wanting an appointment. You should also ask the amount of time the appointment will take and if you should expect a wait time prior to the appointment. Be sure to ask about cancellation policies and procedures, some businesses impose penalties for cancellations that occur less than 24 hours before the appointment.
In many, if not most, instances email has replaced phone calls as the preferred method of making an appointment. This means that the ability to make an appointment by email is an important skill for those learning business English.
If you are making a first appointment and writing to someone you do not know be sure to give your background information and the reason for requesting an appointment.
If you don’t know the person, you’ll need to give some background information about yourself or your company. Here are some examples that are typical business English conversations.
I am _________ (followed by company info if appropriate) and I would like to meet with you to discuss…
My name is _______ and I would like to schedule a convenient time to meet.
Be sure to request a semi-specific time; “next week”, “the week of October 1”, etc. This will make it easier for the person to check their schedule and typically will get you a response faster.
When writing an email to request an appointment be sure to think about who will be receiving the email. Basically your email request will fall into three categories; formal, neutral, or informal.
Formal email examples:
I would like to arrange a suitable time and place to meet to discuss….
I would like to arrange an appointment to review…
Neutral email examples:
Could we met on Thursday to review
We should meet in the next few days to discuss…. When is a convenient time for you?
Can we get together to talk about…
Do you have a few minutes tomorrow to discuss…
Always make sure that you confirm appointments when you make them. When you make an appointment in English by phone be sure to confirm the appointment by repeating the date and time of the meeting back to the other party and asking if that is correct. This should be one of the last things you do prior to ending the conversation.
When using email, you should immediately confirm the appointment once it is scheduled.
Thank you for your response. I look forward to meeting with you on Tuesday the first of October at 10 AM.
Thanks see you on Tuesday at 10. (informal)
You should also confirm appointments the day prior to having them with a short email or call.
Sometimes circumstances require that we cancel or change an appointment. Here are some basic steps.
Cancel as soon after you discover there is a problem as possible.
Try to reschedule the appointment before ending the call or at the end of the email.
Here are some examples of cancelling an appointment, rescheduling, and apologizing for the change.
Due to an upcoming business trip, I will be away from October 3-9. Is it possible to reschedule our meeting for the following week? Thank you in advance and I apologize for any inconvenience.
Due to an unexpected situation, I need to cancel our meeting on Friday.
At first glance, making managing appointments may seem a bit daunting. However, spending a short amount of time making the best practices a part of your regular routine will make you more productive and help you achieve more in terms of working with other people and companies.
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