Ten best practises for making appointments in English

What you need to know if you are not a native English speaker when making an appointment and particularly business appointments in English.

If you are not an English speaker and need to make an appointment in English, then follow these top tips so that you don’t get caught up or caught out when doing so.  Once you master the art of making an appointment in English you wont ever want to stop.   So, deep breath and here goes…

1. Making an Appointment in person

Sometimes there is no better way to make an appointment than going to the person concerned and speaking to them “face to face!”  It can save a lot of confusion and if making an appointment can be complicated because of the lack of time or available appointments, then it is always easier to go and see the person and take a look at the Diary together.  Much quicker and also leads to less confusion.    Also, if your English is not very fluent, then often people have more confidence if they can speak or write to the person they want to deal with

2. Making an Appointment on the telephone

So you feel pretty confident now with your English and you think that you can understand and answer any questions that they may pose to you.  You know you will understand them and answer successfully.  If this is the case, then you should definitely save time and pick the telephone up, tell them what you want and then both agree on an appointment date

3. Making an appointment via email

This is a great way of doing things if you are not able to visit them personally, you feel a little nervous about using your English in case they ask you a question you can not understand, or maybe you are unable to contact them when they are open and available to speak.   If nothing else, it enables you to correct your English and stops you feeling confused if they ask you something you don’t understand.  It simply allows you time to compose yourself.  We sometimes call this “cold calling” and it’s because your contact was not invited but you decided to contact them yourself.  There are lots of things to do such as not making the other person annoyed for your approach and offer them lots of different appointments.  Here are some top tips that Call Centre Workers use.  It could be useful to you also.          

4. Cancelling an appointment

Sometimes we have to cancel an appointment for whatever reason.  So, make sure you cancel in plenty of time, especially if it is for something where they levy a cancellation charge.  So, either pick up the telephone, write them an email or speak to them personally.  Make sure they have your details and you get the name of the person who you cancelled with.  That way no one will feel annoyed with you, especially if you did it as soon as you knew.  Keep your reasons factual but succinct.  Give them the reason why, if appropriate, and then ask them for another appointment when convenient to them.  This is very important if it is a business appointment because if you cancelled then you should not demand another appointment that suits you.  You inconvenienced the other person, so let them know that any new appointment you will DEFINITELY keep and it can be at a time to suit them.

5. What you should always notify when making an appointment

So when you make an appointment make sure you get the name of the person you are applying to.  It’s a good point of reference and regardless of you making the appointment in English or any other language – notations are so important.  So, get their name, their contact details and make a brief note of what occurred. 

6. The difference between a business appointment and a personal one

Not a lot of difference.  For sure you should make a note somewhere of the time of the appointment, the person you are seeing and what it is about.  Otherwise you don’t usually write to formally confirm a personal appointment such as the Doctor, Dentist etc but you would expect this to happen if you are making a business appointment

7. Should you contact them before the appointment to double check it’s not cancelled

Yes this is definitely a good idea to contact them the day beforehand.  Just write to say that you are expecting to see *** and add their name and then the time.  This confirms the appointment.  They know you are going to arrive and it allows them to double check the time made.  It’s also a time when you can give a brief overview of how you expect the meeting to be as well as allowing them time to cancel, should they have to.

8. What happens if they don’t confirm your appointment?

That’s a good question.  Well, you can either take a chance and just turn up, but its better to telephone them.  This way you are speaking directly to them and they will confirm or not to you.  If you write to them possibly they won’t read the email or letter.  So telephone. Always!

9. How much information should you put in your email or letter

Again this depends on whether it is a formal or personal appointment.  If it is just an appointment to the dentist, then you don’t need to put anything, but if it is a “business pitch” then you should give a brief outline of what you hope to achieve at the meeting, what you propose to talk about and anything else they should know, such as your main objectives.  How long you have been in this Industry and what you hope to receive from them.  If nothing else it saves precious time at the business meeting and allows you to “cut to the chase!” as us Brits like to say.

And finally – 

10. What you should avoid when making a business appointment in English

Its very important when making an appointment in English to get the tone right.  English speakers and more particularly British people can be quite formal and reserved.  It doesn’t do to make a joke in the letter or email if you are hoping to make a serious business pitch. It just won’t look professional and they will wonder if you are taking your job seriously.   Similarly, don’t talk to them about anything too personal.  We are not interested if you had a fight with your partner or your cat has just died.  Sad though that sounds – it’s business and therefore only business should be spoken.  Of course, the Brits do have their own funny sayings – or slang words – so read this quick article on some words which they may say to you when replying to your request for that Meeting.

If you are worried about your Business English – the written and the spoken, then consider one of the shorter online Business English Courses  for say ten hours.  Here is a good suggestion for a 10 hour Business English syllabus.


Keep it polite

Keep it formal

Keep it precise

Keep it clean    

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