I was about to register for an event the other day because it was described as a workshop. Before I clicked PAY, I sent the coordinator an email for clarification. “Is this a workshop with hands-on activities or a seminar with a talking head in lecture format?” Turns out, it was a seminar.
I’m seeing this too often…event producers using words interchangeably when their meanings are completely different. You should take care in choosing the right definition for your event because participants in the know will expect a certain experience based on your description.
If you sign up for an event that’s described as one thing and it turns out to be something else, get your money back. Hope the definitions below help.
Conference can be a mixture of seminars, panels, and workshops usually based on a theme and separated into tracks to appeal to different skill sets and interests.
Congress is very similar to a conference, but with more formality featuring delegates or representatives.
Seminar is a meeting on a specific subject or educational class in a lecture/talking head format with Q&A that can prompt audience interaction.
Summit is a conference or meeting of high-level leaders, usually called to shape a program of action.
Symposium is typically a more formal or academic gathering with multiple experts who present on a particular topic.
Workshop will consist of some type of hands-on application to whatever is being taught, either individually or as a group.
Be careful when you choose the verbiage to describe your event. If it’s not as described, I want a refund.