5 Keys for Communicating a Cancellation to Your Community


In this moment of global uncertainty, countless conveners are facing decisions of whether or not to cancel or postpone their events. Whatever you decide, communicating your decisions and the process by which you came to them, is paramount. Here’s how to start: 

  1. COMMUNICATE IMMEDIATELY – Get connected with your community NOW, even if you don’t know all the details yet. It’s important for your participants to know that you are aware of what is going on globally and acknowledge how it will affect them if your convening is postponed or canceled.
  2. SET A DATE – Set a date for yourself by which you will choose to cancel or not and communicate that with your participants immediately. This helps your team gain clarity on what will need to be done leading up to that decision and what support will be needed for the community once the announcement is made. It may even save your inboxes as participants know when to expect news from you.
  3. BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS – Whatever your ultimate decision, clearly share the basis of that decision with your community; think statistics, recommendations from health organizations, concrete data, and facts.
  4. COMMUNICATE WITH LEVEL-HEADED COMPASSION – In every communication, be sure to check the tone of your messaging. Lead with empathy that includes the facts and avoids inducing panic. Acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and the impact it will have on everyone involved, but it never helps anyone to focus on worst-case scenarios or make claims we lack information to support.
  5. EXAMINE AND REWRITE YOUR REFUND POLICY – If you haven’t already, make sure you communicate your refund plans with participants and post them front and center on your website. Refund what you can and allow for special requests as they come in and budget allows.