training workshops

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.

In this article, we are going to be outlining the main difference between a conference, training, workshop and seminar.

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

A seminar consists of a small group of people. With professional researchers present, a seminar will often be used for academic instruction.

For example, at Universities, you have ‘lectures’ that are seated talks with a large group of people, similar to a conference. You also have ‘seminars’ which are done in small groups in classrooms and are more interactive and gives the student a chance to discuss any queries in regards to the specific subject the lecturer is teaching.

What is a conference?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a conference as “a formal meeting of people with a common 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

A conference is a large event that has a focus on a particular issue. These are formally structured events and can happen within a professional organisation. Often people interested in the chosen subject are able to purchase tickets and there will be a handful of keynote speakers.

What is a workshop?

To know the difference between a workshop and a conference, you need to ask ‘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

Smaller workshops and seminars are beneficial because it gives the group of people an opportunity to go in-depth with the specific subjects. Workshops and symposiums can also open up a debate, which is always a fun way to learn about others’ opinions.

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

Training can be held within one institution, or you can outsource your training by sending your employees on different training courses.

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.

training workshop

Events vs smaller workshops

There is always the question of whether you should be hosting a large conference event or a smaller seminar or workshop. The main thing to consider here, is what are your goals? If you are looking to simply inform and educate a large audience on a specific topic, then a conference is best as you can reach a lot of people at once.

If you want your lecture to be interactive and you want the opportunity to speak to others about the chosen subject in-depth  then a seminar or workshop is best.

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.

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