I work as a full-time employee in industry. Recently, I've been invited to present at a conference in an area not closely related to my degree. My employer approved me being absent for two-three hours and I accepted the conference invitation.

However, I'm not sure how will this look in the eyes of the conference attendees and other presenters since I will have to leave immediately after my 20 minutes talk. Therefore, I will miss their talks.

Is there an etiquette regarding this? Should someone accept a presentation on a conference if they won't be able to be present for the whole duration?

  • 21
    As noted in existing answers, a conference is ostensibly about conferring with other people. Ask your employer for more time off, either paid or unpaid as needed, if you're interested enough in going and rubbing shoulders with others in the field. If you're not interested enough to spend a few hours there learning or making connections, why go at all? They can find other presenters.
    – brichins
    Feb 24, 2018 at 22:56
  • 11
    Why not just ask whoever is hosting the conference for guidance. Different conferences have different cultures. They likely accepted you as a speaker because they want to hear you speak. Given this, they are probably happier to have you speak and leave than they are to have you not attend. Just ask the host and not a bunch of random people online.
    – 123
    Feb 25, 2018 at 4:13
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – eykanal
    Feb 27, 2018 at 1:13
  • If you personally know any of the speakers whose talks you have to miss, it would be good to talk to them beforehand, explain the situation, and apologize for missing their talks. Oct 7, 2018 at 3:12

5 Answers 5


No one can force you to attend the whole conference, but usually the purpose of conferences is to spread new ideas, discuss them and make connections.

You can certainly accept the invitation, deliver your presentation and disappear soon afterward. It's certainly not unheard of. Your presentation might be useful to others anyway, but you will miss part of the purpose of going to conferences.

  • 3
    Absolutely, people leave early for many reasons, family, medical etc etc It happens and you have done the best bit : presenting your paper and answering some questions possibly.
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 25, 2018 at 6:43
  • 2
    Since the OP is an industry worker who normally works outside of the conference's field, I don't think it's correct to say their main reason for attending is to bump shoulders with other researchers. It's to share their ideas and improve their own and their company's reputation.
    – Kevin
    Feb 26, 2018 at 3:30

Is there an etiquette regarding this? Should someone accept a presentation on a conference if they won't be able to be present for the whole duration?

There aren’t really any universally agreed-upon rules for such things, but as a general rule:

  1. If the conference organizers are paying any expenses for your attendance (such as travel or accommodation), it is considered good manners to be present for at least a good chunk of the conference other than your own talk.

  2. If the organizers are not paying your expenses, I don’t think they have either a moral claim or much of an expectation that you do anything other than show up and deliver the talk they invited you to deliver.

If you are in doubt about what the organizers are expecting from you, it is perfectly acceptable to let them know about your constraints and ask them if it’s okay to accept the invitation even though you won’t be able to stay after your talk. If it bothers them, I‘m sure they will have no trouble telling you.

  • 23
    I'd add that in a very lightly attended conference session it's generally polite to at least stay for all of the talks in the session where you're presenting. It's also polite to have a question or two for the the other speakers in the session. Feb 25, 2018 at 22:10

It's certainly not viewed as odd to leave a conference straight after your presentation, plenty of people do it if they are super busy. However you will unfortunately have to skip the value of hearing other presentations, feedback on your own work and of course networking.


One practical issue not addressed in the other answers is the size of the conference. If this is a large conference with multiple concurrent sessions and hundreds of attendees, there will be so much moving about between talks that no one will even notice when you leave. Even if someone is actively seeking you out for a one-on-one discussion they may simply assume they missed you in the throng.

On the other hand, if all talks follow one another in a single location and there are a few dozen attendees, you are more likely to be missed if you leave early. In that case, I doubt many would regard it as rude, but it's certainly possible that other attendees might feel disappointed if they had been hoping to have a discussion with you.

One practical tip: (particularly) if you are forced to leave early, make sure that your contact details are prominently included in your talk and easy to find via your company's website or on social media. Then if people would like to follow up anything from your talk they have the means to do so even if they can't speak to you at the conference.


Don't leave the conference right after presenting the paper, and don't arrive right before you need to present it. At least come for the day.

Some answers tell you "oh, there's no obligation if they're not paying your expenses etc." ... well, nobody's going to hang you for it, but still: It's a conference. Attend the conference. Mingle. Talk to people. It's important for the scientific community and probably beneficial for you as well. You won't regret it.

What about your employer, then? Well, tell him you are expected to show up for the full day, and you had made a mistake only asking for part of the day off. And if you're working someplace which can't give you a day off to attend a scientific conference - well, you have bigger problems than leaving a session early.

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