How to write great meeting invitation emails (samples & top tips)
A meeting invitation email plays a vital role in business activities. They’re the trigger for bringing people together to share ideas, learn more and make decisions. Whether it’s sales meetings with customers or team meetings with colleagues, it all starts with the business meeting invitation email. So, let’s look at how to write an effective invitation email and review some simple meeting invitation email samples.
Is email always the best way to invite people to a business meeting?
There are plenty of alternatives to email if you want to invite people to business meetings. But by any objective measure, email is easily the best.
The advantages of email invitations are:
It links directly to calendars. Email recipients can accept an invitation and know that it’s automatically added to their business diary.
It can launch straight from your chosen conferencing platform. Unless it’s a face-to-face meeting, your first option will likely be Zoom, Teams, or something similar. All the links and timings sync up via email when attendees RSVP, so they don’t need to scramble for the details later.
It goes straight to the recipient, assuming you aren’t contacting them at a group email address.
It’s fast. Type out a few carefully considered lines, and you’re done. And all your recipients receive it just seconds later.
Everyone has an email address. Email is the most pervasive form of business communication.
So, email has to be the way to go, although breaking the mold sometimes can come as a welcome change. It depends on the context. Sometimes it’s faster and more personal to call the invitees and ask them. Or take the time to handwrite an invitation or get a formal one designed, printed, and posted in the mail. These options don’t scale, however, so use them sparingly.
What’s the difference between asking for a meeting and confirming it with an email diary invitation?
One potential gray area in understanding meeting invitation emails is the different sequences of communications used to arrange meetings. These are the two-stage process and the one-stage process.
Two-stage email meeting invitation process
A typical two-stage sequence could be as follows:
Organizer emails other parties to outline the purpose, agenda, place, time, and duration of a proposed meeting they plan to host.
Attendees reply, signaling their intention to come along.
Some attendees who are willing but unable to attend can use this opportunity to propose alternative timings and locations and the later back and forth to arrive at a consensus.
The organizer emails a calendar invitation to hold the agreed time slot in the attendee’s diary. The notification holds all the pertinent meeting coordinates.
Attendees accept the calendar invitation (where applicable).
In this most commonly-used sequence, the general idea is that people use email to agree that a meeting will happen before confirming this with the issuing and accepting calendar entries.
Some form of ’email meeting invitation’ is the starting point, and the contents are primarily reproduced in the confirmatory calendar invite.
One-stage email meeting invitation process
The alternative one-stage approach is to truncate the two-stage process with an email meeting invite launched from the organizer’s own calendar. The sequence is therefore:
The organizer sends an email (in the form of a calendarized invitation) to other parties to outline the purpose, agenda, place, time, and duration of a proposed meeting they plan to host. This is the meeting invitation email.
Attendees reply, signaling their intention to come along or not.
Some attendees who are willing but unable to attend use this opportunity to propose alternative timings and locations and the subsequent back and forth to arrive at a consensus.
Attendees accept the calendar invitation (where applicable).
The pros of this approach are:
It’s simpler because there are fewer stages.
It is well suited to meetings where attendance is mandatory, i.e., CEO company announcement to staff.
It is well suited to meetings where timings, location, etc., are fixed.
The cons of this approach are:
It can appear rude and presumptuous.
It can seem abrupt and lacking in context.
It is less consensual than the two-stage approach, where diary invitations are not issued until ‘permission’ has been obtained.
Whichever approach is used, the organizer must still formulate a meeting invitation email. It’s just a question of how they use it.
Common types of meeting invitation emails
There’s scope for an invitation email for every conceivable kind of meeting. Here are just a few possibilities:
Quarterly business reviews with customers
Sales presentations with prospects
Planning sessions (internally or externally)
Kick-offs and wash-ups
AGMs and other stakeholder meetings
Community liaison meetings
Teambuilding events with colleagues
Staff social gatherings like summer BBQs or leaving parties
1-2-1 employee catch ups
Each of these share the same constituent elements essential to the meeting taking place:
The people who are being invited
Its proposed timing, location, and duration
The proposed content of the meeting
Its purpose and value
We’ll cover how to address all the essential components of a meeting invitation email later in this guide.
Why meeting invitation emails have to be compelling
The idea behind meeting invitation emails is to get people to come to your meeting. Meetings that happen without the right people attending aren’t as worthwhile. And if it’s a one-to-one session, getting your participant to join dictates whether the meeting goes ahead. So, persuasion plays a part…
What also matters is the context of hectic daily schedules with multiple demands on people’s time. Individuals are picky about which meetings they attend (unless mandatory), so your meeting invitation email needs to communicate clearly, effectively, and persuasively. If you fail, people will ignore or reject your invitation.
What to include in your meeting invitation emails
Every email meeting invitation needs to include the following:
Your invite will be sent as a regular email in the inboxes of target meeting participants. And the very first identifier is who it’s from. Now that’s fine and simple if your name is Peter Peterson and you want recipients to see that.
But is that how it presents itself? Check if it shows up as ‘Admin Group’ or ‘firstname.lastname@example.org ‘. The upshot is that it’s worth checking and having it show what you intend.
A subject line
As with the From field, the only other identifier in recipients’ mailboxes will be the subject line. Getting this right is very important, especially if you’re ‘selling’ the invitation to people who can treat attendance as optional.
Use a clean subject line rather than just replying to the most recent email.
Be factual, not enigmatic.
Be clear that it’s a meeting you’re contacting them about.
Understand that if you’re creating the email invite from your calendar, it won’t be called ‘Subject’ but rather ‘Event name’ or something similar.
Where, when, how long
We are now into the body of the email itself. The most important information to convey is the mechanics of the proposed meeting:
The name of the meeting
The date and time of the meeting
When the meeting finishes (the difference between the start and finish time is the meeting duration)
Where it will take place
Any other pertinent information necessary for attendance, such as dress code, travel/venue access guidance, whether meals or accommodation is provided, etc.
Also, remember that some of this information might be auto-populated into your invite’s subject line if you’re launching straight from your calendar or collaboration platform. Duplication is a good thing; you shouldn’t assume any of it has been absorbed by the recipient simply by being included in the subject line.
The purpose of the meeting
The meeting purpose is often overlooked. A common mistake is inferring the purpose of the meeting or assuming that participants must know.
Up to 50% of meetings are unnecessary, and if you haven’t given a clear purpose for yours, why should anyone attend, and why should it even happen?
You needn’t go into incredible detail when explaining the purpose. A couple of lines will be acceptable to summarize this (and hopefully make it compelling).
Beyond the primary purpose are the main agenda items you want to cover. This provides a general sense of the areas the meeting will cover and where the attendees might get value or be required to contribute.
This is particularly useful for helping attendees prepare for the meeting adequately. A few bullet points should suffice unless you have a more detailed agenda. Alternatively, you could add this as an attachment.
Call-to-action / RSVP
Now comes the business end of the meeting invite, where recipients are steered toward the action you need them to take. If you’ve created the invitation as part of calendar scheduling, some handy options should display as part of the program. Or, for larger meetings, direct them to that link if you have a registration page. Consider other information you might need from meeting attendees, like car license plate numbers and special dietary requirements.
RSVPs (the initialism comes from the French for “please respond”, repondez s’il vous plait) will make or break the feasibility of smaller meetings where the recipient could be one of just a few (or perhaps the only) target attendee/s. For more extensive sessions with more people, it’s a big help to organizers to know in advance what numbers to expect as well as which individuals.
You might also want to put a time limit on responses so you can finalize your meeting logistics without the risk of any stragglers responding right up to the wire.
Best practice for writing simple meeting invitation emails
Here are 7 top tips for writing a simple meeting invitation email the right way. Much of it is just good business email writing practice.
1. Be concise
Your meeting email invite is fighting for attention, so don’t draw it for longer than it needs to be. Concise explanations for what the meeting is about also come across as more professional than lengthy descriptions that take longer to get to the point.
The other benefit of being concise is that your email meeting invite might take less writing and reading time.
2. Personalize wherever possible
Meeting invitation emails aren’t good places to address people as ‘Customer’, ‘Partner’, or ‘Employee’. To be compelling, you’ve got to appeal to why attending the meeting is valuable.
That means making it as personalized as possible, so the recipient knows this value applies directly to them.
3. Set the right tone
There’s a lot of difference between the formality of a company board meeting and the informality of a staff party. You need to understand where your meeting sits on that spectrum and match your choice of vocabulary and the general tone you use.
Match it to the purpose and expectations surrounding the meeting, and you’re on the right path.
4. Predict questions
The balance you need to strike is keeping it short and yet packing it full of all the details attendees will need to decide whether to come and (if they are) to prepare ahead of time. This means being discriminatory about what you include.
A good thinking framework for this is imagining yourself in the invite recipients’ shoes and what questions you have. Is parking provided at the meeting venue? Are you working through lunch, and so is food being brought in? Is it possible to dial into the meeting if you cannot attend in person?
5. Make it easy for them
Think about the ‘meeting experience’ from the perspective of the prospective meeting attendee. This is especially important with customers and potential partners, and employees. Are you fundamentally doing what you can to make it a good experience?
How much effort are you making attendees go to?
How much time are you making them spend on this?
Is all the information they need in one place?
Is it straightforward for them to understand when, where, what, why, and how?
By making it easy, you’re empathizing with them and promoting a better impression and overall business understanding.
6. Check it over before sending
Another vital sign of empathy is respect. This includes caring enough about the accuracy of the presentation of your meeting invitation email, so it reaches them in perfect shape.
Read it through for typos and brevity. Ideally, get a second pair of eyes on it too, as this can show errors you’ve missed.
7. Put it in your email signature
Instead of just asking people to meet you, what if you could facilitate a continual opportunity for people to meet you whenever they want? For example, you could insert a meeting link into your email signature. It doesn’t replace the practice of setting up meetings normally. Still, by always keeping the option open for people to book into your diary, you lessen the admin overheads associated with meeting scheduling.
Email signature-based meeting scheduling is also helpful as a part of the two-stage process described earlier in this guide. As you email back and forth about the general meeting parameters, instead of issuing an invite, you invite people to schedule it by clicking through your signature. This works best for 1-2-1 meetings where it’s just you and one other person, though these are, in fact, the most common type of business meeting.
You can also use your email signature to advertise forthcoming events that you wish to drive attendance to, such as sales seminars, open days, and presence at trade events.