A conference is generally understood as a meeting of several people to discuss a particular topic. It is often confused with a convention, colloquia or symposium. While a conference differs from the others in terms of size and purpose, the term can be used to cover the general concept. A convention is larger than a conference; it is a gathering of delegates representing several groups.
At a conference, innovative ideas are thrown about and new information is exchanged among experts. Its purpose could be one of the following:
An academic conference is a gathering of scientists or academicians, where research findings are presented or a workshop is conducted.
A business conference is held for people working in the same company or industry. They come together to discuss new trends and opportunities pertaining to the business
A trade conference takes place on a larger scale. Besides businessmen, there are members of the public who come to network with vendors and made new connections. Such a conference consists of workshops and white paper presentations.
An unconference differs from the traditional conference, since it avoids the high costs, top-down organizational hierarchy and sponsored presentations. All attendees are equally knowledgeable about the topic and the discussion follows an open mode; usually without a single speaker addressing the gathering.
Most conferences have one or more keynote speakers who will deliver the keynote speech. These are common at academic and business conferences. The speakers chosen are eminent personalities in the related field and their presence is meant to attract more people to attend the conference. There are various types of conferences:
A symposium is a casual gathering and includes refreshments and entertainment.
A seminar is organized to discuss a particular topic. They are usually educational in nature and attendees are expected to gain new knowledge or skills at the end of the seminar
A workshop is more of a hands-on experience for the participants with demonstrations and activities; the amount of time one speaker addresses the group is limited
A round-table conference is a get-together of peers to exchange thoughts and opinions on a certain topic, usually political or commercial. There are a limited number of participants who sit at a round table, so that each one can face all the others
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