Conference vs Convention vs Seminar: What's the Difference?

So you have a work conference. Or is it a convention? Maybe it’s a seminar. Does it even matter? While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are key differences between conference vs convention and conference vs seminar that are good to know. 

Conference vs convention and conference vs seminar: what's the difference?

If you're planning an event, then understanding the differences can help you book the right space. If you're attending a conference, convention or seminar, knowing how they're different will help you prepare ahead of time. 


In general, a conference is a large-scale, multi-day, specific industry event for professionals. These events facilitate a great exchange of knowledge where attendees can network and learn from others. Often held in large, open venues such as halls or auditoriums, conferences give attendees autonomy over which presentations and gatherings they attend and can be customized to individual professional development goals. Finding ways to connect with people and join conversations will help you make the most out of your conference experience. 

Key characteristics of a conference:

Duration: Multiple days

Goal: Bring together professionals to network and exchange knowledge

Speakers: Keynote speakers sharing thoughts, research and knowledge with a large audience

Format: Formal professional gatherings taking place during the event


Conventions serve as a large-scale gathering place for people with a common interest. You may think of something like Comic-Con International, which is a popular annual event where comic book enthusiasts pilgrimage to San Diego to gather and celebrate their shared passion. There are many events geared toward hobbies and entertainment, as well as conventions for other professional industries. 

Think of a convention as a conference and a trade-show combined. Conventions offer different ways to participate in a large-scale event, such as watching panel discussions, speaking with vendors, viewing demonstrations or attending networking events. 

Key characteristics of a convention: 

Duration: Two to three days, often over a weekend

Goal: Provide a platform for companies, organizations and professionals who share common interests to network, exhibit products or services and share information with a wide audience

Speakers: Talks and panel discussions featuring notable figures, such as celebrities and industry leaders

Format: Large, often held across multiple venues 


Looking at conference vs convention and conference vs seminar, we can see that conferences and conventions are quite similar. However, a seminar is not the same. 

If you've ever taken a seminar in university, then you know they're intimate gatherings designed to spur rich, thought-provoking discussions between facilitators and participants. 

With a focus on education and interaction, seminars work best when attendees are active participants. These can be stand-alone events or part of a larger convention or conference. 

Key characteristics of a seminar:

Duration: Typically, one to three hours

Goal: To educate and advance the understanding of a topic through interactive discussions

Speakers: Facilitators guide participants through discussions

Format: Small, classroom-style 

Booking your next event space 

Now that you have a clear understanding of the key characteristics of conference vs convention and conference vs seminar, it's easy to make an informed decision about the type of event you'd like to attend or where to host your next gathering. 

For larger events, consider booking a conference facility equipped with everything you need to host a top-notch conference or convention. 

If you require multi-purpose or meeting rooms, consider seminar rooms with a theater or U-shape design to provide an optimal environment for engagement and participation. 

Whether you're attending or planning a conference, convention or seminar, recognizing the differences can help you choose which is best for your professional growth. In-person events provide amazing opportunities for professionals to connect, learn and make advancements in business and industry.


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