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What’s the difference between a conference, training, workshop and seminar?


At Yarnfield Park, we are often asked what the difference is between a conference, a training program, workshop and a seminar. The truth is that there can be an overlap in the definition of each and they are not easily distinguished at times.

What is a seminar?

The Oxford English Dictionary explores a seminar as “a conference or other meeting for discussion or training”. As mentioned earlier, these terms do overlap and this definition stands as proof. Although interchangeable at times, a seminar is usually characterised by the following attributes:

  • Small groups
  • Specific topics
  • Comprises of tasks and discussions

What is a conference?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a conference as “a formal meeting of people with a shared interest, typically one that takes place over several days”. At Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire, our theatre, usually used for conferences, can seat up to 450 people. Conferences typically comprise of a range of speakers (often experts in the field) who discuss a particular topic. Examples of conferences:

  • Religious/charitable communities
  • Governing bodies
  • Political/social causes

What is a workshop?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a workshop as “a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project”. Workshops, similar to seminars, are usually much smaller than conferences – a workshop can be an element of the conference structure. Workshops typically tend to be:

  • Interactive
  • Educational
  • Conversational

What is training?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines training as “the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behaviour”. At Yarnfield Park, the number of candidates taking part in training sessions varies greatly. They can take place in large conference theatres or small meeting rooms and each style of training session is dependent on the organisation using the facilities. Training sessions are often for:

  • Companies
  • Governing bodies
  • Leaders/teachers

Difference between training and workshop

We have described above the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a ‘workshop meeting’ and ‘training’. The key difference between training and workshop is that training is the action of ‘teaching’, whereas a workshop is where the group will ‘engage’ in an intensive discussion and activity.

In a corporate environment, training is where a specialist will teach and train the employee additional skills so that they are able to do their job properly. A workshop, on the other hand, is a corporate event where skills and knowledge can be shared in a group. Workshop meetings are usually a lot more interactive and can include group activities such as presentations and small group projects. Training is usually done in a ‘teacher, student’ environment and uses traditional learning techniques.

Difference between conference and workshop

We have defined the Oxford English Dictionary definition of ‘conference’ and ‘workshop’ above. The key difference between conference and workshop is that a workshop consists of smaller groups and usually only lasts a day or two. A conference can last up to a week and will have keynote speakers who are experts on a particular topic, giving attendees industry knowledge and updates.

difference between training and workshop

For more information about the different types of events that can be held at a national training centre, click here.



Book your session at Yarnfield Park today by contacting our events team on 01785 878428.