Simple question: how do you know that you are an invited speaker for a conference?

For example, receiving an email "For your information, this is our next conference" is obviously not an invitation. What about "I would like to invite you to contribute"? Is there an strict definition of Invited Speaker?

  • 2
    I don't want to make it an answer because I'm pretty sure that it's different between fields, but my guideline is who pays. If I have to pay my travel and lodging, it's not an invited talk; if the conference covers them, it is invited.
    – iayork
    Aug 8, 2017 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


There are a number of different forms of invited talk, but to me, a clear distinction can be made by considering whether the decision to have a person speak comes before or after any associated submission.

  • If the organizers of the event have decided they want Dr. Smith to speak, based on Dr. Smith's record, and then afterwards negotiate the particulars of topic and content of the talk, then it's an invited talk. There might or might not be any publication associated with it, depending on the particulars of the venue. This covers keynotes, seminars, symposia, and many other forms of talk.

  • If the organizers ask Dr. Smith to submit something, and then decide whether they want the talk based on what's been submitted, then it's not an invited talk. This is the typical case for conferences, workshops, etc.

What can make things confusing is that the word "invite" is often used in solicitations for submissions of the second type, particularly by low-quality or predatory organizations that are trying to trick people into thinking it's an invited talk, rather than just another request for submissions.

If the judgement comes after the submission, however, it's definitely not an invited talk---and if the judgement comes before because it's a terrible venue, then you shouldn't go even if it would give you an "invited talk" line on your CV.

  • predatory organizations ;-)
    – Karl
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:51
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    Still, say I'm a symposium organizer, I know you and like you work, I send you a personal invitation to contribute (not a group mail) to my next conference. If I understand well, it's not clear yet if it's i) a real invitation or ii) just a sollicitation for submission. What will make a difference is whether your paper will be conditionally accepted or not even reviewed. Is that correct?
    – anderstood
    Oct 3, 2016 at 19:04
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    @anderstood That's correct. When I'm organizing a workshop, for example, I often send out individual, personal solicitations to people who I expect can provide a really good contribution. But they go through the normal review channel just like everybody else, so it's not an invited talk.
    – jakebeal
    Oct 3, 2016 at 19:09
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    and - if you realize that when you see your name in the program and your name does not have 'invited' next to it and someone else's does, it means that you misinterpreted an ambiguous general call for 'invitation to participate' in our conference.
    – Carol
    Oct 3, 2016 at 19:51

This varies by area, but in computer science, you're an invited speaker if

  • you're delivering a keynote
  • The event is invitation-only (like a specialized workshop)

Being invited to contribute is generally NOT considered an invited talk, unless you're being asked to do a keynote and the conference also wants you to submit a short position paper relating to your keynote.

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