At some conferences I attend(ed), plenary speakers are introduced with more than just name an title of the talk, but also a short CV by the session convenor.

While I don't know how these intros are compiled (do organisers run background checks on the speakers? do speakers provide the summary themselves?) it may happen that the presented information (roles the speaker holds / held) are incorrect. (Misunderstandings between the convenor and their sources, not full awareness of subtle seeming terminology differences, …)

I expect mostly nobody cares about the details in such a speaker introduction, but there may be cases where the speaker gets a role attributed which they didn't hold and the award of the role was disputed or a politically delicate topic.

I'm wondering, what is the correct way to deal with such an incorrect introduction (assuming the speaker didn't deliberately provide false information)? Should one embarrass the convenor by correcting them before starting the presentation or let it slide and off-stage apologize to those in the audience who will feel offended because the convenor attributed their reputation to the speaker?

  • 1
    The way you've written this it sounds hypothetical. Whose point of view are you asking from?
    – Jessica B
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 8:20
  • i'm wondering about all involved, but i think only the speaker has a chance to do anything (they have the word / microphone; if anybody in the audience would stand up and shout to correct the convenor that would probably be regarded unprofessional. similar for raising it as a comment after the talk)
    – pseyfert
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 8:57
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    "I don't know how these intros are compiled" The conference organisers will request a bio from the speaker. In my experience, the session convenor will simply read this out. A good session convenor will ask the speaker to help them pick out the most interesting/relevant things and double check everything ahead of the session. This more or less minimises the risk of an incorrect introduction.
    – Phil
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


In case your name is pronounced wrong, just let it slip. You cannot expect someone to know all of the correct pronunciations of strangers' names.

As for the title, I would recommend to only speak up when you are introduced with a status higher than your real one. A side remark like "Oh, and I do not actually hold a PhD" should be enough to clear the confusion and to show people you are not adorning yourself with borrowed plumes (taking false credit). Any further would probably unnecessarily embarrass the speaker.

  • I was more thinking about awards the speaker supposedly received or jobs of recognition ("is in charge of leading the XYZ project" - with the actual project leader in the audience). (People in my experience don't get addressed by their title anyway, so their PhD only comes up in introductions like "did their PhD in 2006 in the group of <famous person> on <title of thesis>" I would hope this is hard to get wrong by the convenor.)
    – pseyfert
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 9:42
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    @pseyfert If I were incorrectly introduced as being in charge of leading the XYZ project, I'd probably say something like "Although I work on the XYZ project, I'm fortunately not in charge of leading it. That burd--, I mean honor, belongs to John Doe." Commented Jun 7, 2020 at 18:21

Your name and affiliation should be on the title slide and conference program. This should provide the necessary information.

I strongly disagree with the other answer about pronunciation of your name. While it's true that you cannot expect people to be able to pronounce your name, you should not just "let it slip." Instead, assume that the conference chair will pronounce your name incorrectly or inaudibly. Have a practice of always introducing yourself at the start of your talk. You don't need to point out that you were introduced poorly. Just say your name and affiliation. This way, all the people in the audience who could not understand the introduction or knew it was wrong will be thrilled that you've let them know who is speaking. For context, I work in a field where >50% of the time the chair cannot pronounce the speaker's name right.

I agree with the other answer that you do not need to correct your status, but it is acceptable to make a correction if the introducer overstated your rank.

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