In Nigeria, there are conferences that look like seminars and there are workshops that look like symposium. This is because most Nigerians, especially event planners don't even know the differences.
1. A conference and a seminar are both formal meetings. A conference is a large formal gathering of several people to discuss about a specific topic or subject of common interest.
Conferences are organized at organizational, national or international level. Various types of conferences include; academic conference, trade conference, business conference etc.
A seminar is an instructional event or a formal academic forum wherein one or more experts communicate some information through lectures or general discussions.
Although seminars are academic in nature, they can also be classified into several categories such educational seminars, business seminars etc.
2. The objective of a conference is to get an opinion or solution for an issue, whereas seminars are aimed at informing, educating, counseling, guiding or training the participants on a specific objective. In other words, participants in a conference only get clarification about a specific topic but not new knowledge.
A seminar is a meeting where a group of people discusses a problem, whereas a conference is organized on a particular subject. The purpose of a seminar is to provide instructions or knowledge while conferences are organized to extract the opinions of its members.
3. A conference is consultative while a seminar is interactive. That is, there is a limited participation from the audience in a conference. In fact, no discussion is allowed in some conferences. In a seminar, participants participate actively. There is usually a dialogue or a Q & A session between participants and experts.
4. In a conference, keynote presentation is used to provide information to all attendees while in a seminar, a lecture is given by the guest speaker who is an expert in the field.
5. Most conferences are held over a period of few days while a seminar is usually for one or two hours. Owing to this, accommodation & food must be provided to the participants in a conference.
6. A conference usually have short break sessions unlike a seminar.
7. In a conference, no certificate of participation is presented to participants whereas participants of a seminar are usually given certificates of participation.
8. A conference is usually held under the supervision of a larger body while a seminar is held within an institution or organization.
WHAT IS A WORKSHOP?
A workshop lies between a seminar and a conference. It is usually aimed at generating answers to current challenges in the field. Here, participants learn new skills and acquaint you with new topics.
A workshop is generally smaller than a conference. A workshop includes all the elements of a seminar, but with more emphasis on hands-on-practice or laboratory work.
It may last for 1 or 2 days with specific topics discussed. It is usually an internal event within an organization, although outsiders may attend.
WHAT IS A SYMPOSIUM?
A symposium is a smaller version of a conference, but it last only for a day. The number of delegates in a symposium are smaller.