Seminars vs conferences

Seminars vs Conferences: What’s the Difference?

Seminars and conferences are both effective tools for connecting with customers and increasing brand awareness. Learn more about seminars vs conferences here.
April 4, 2023

Both conferences and seminars are events in which information is presented and shared. While both types of events include information being presented to their guests, the events are different in nature. Based on your event goals, you may want to pick either a conference or a seminar as the type of event your guests. This guide will inform you of the differences between the two events and which one is the best to use based on your event goals.

What is a seminar? 

A seminar is an academic meeting where the guests not only learn new information, but they are given targeted training on the specific topic. Seminars can be small or large, depending on how many people you have registered. Seminars are typically held for only one day and for just a few hours. The guest speakers you have at your seminar are typically experts in their field, and there are usually 1-3 speakers per seminar. Each speaker can speak about the topic in their area of expertise, and guests can have multiple viewpoints on the topic!

how to host a seminar

What is a conference?

A conference is a large gathering of attendees, learning about a topic, over the course of a few days. The attendees usually attend the conference because they all have a common interest in the conference topic. Guests can also give their opinion and feedback on the topic at hand. Because conferences take place over the course of a few days, conferences also allow for networking between the guests and the presenters. 

Seminar vs Conference: A comparison chart

Basis For Comparison Seminar Conference
Meaning Educational, shared information through communication, general discussion Large gathering, specific topic, guests have common interest in the topic at hand
Session Interactive Consultative
Objective Educate, train guests and discuss topics Create solutions and gather opinions from guests on the topics covered
Participation of Audience Active participation Limited participation
Organized At Seminar room, pre-planned space Hotel, conference room, large meeting space, central location
Duration One hour or more Over the course of a few days
Type of Work Presentation and discussion, learning and educating Presentation, exchange of views, gathering of thoughts and ideas
Mode of Delivery Academic and educational Consultative
Audience Can be large or small, guests willing to learn Larger audience, active learning, sharing opinions and thoughts
Formality Relatively formal Very formal

10 key differences between seminars and conferences 


The size difference between a seminar and a conference can be quite large! A seminar is typically smaller than a conference, and a seminar can usually be held in one room. This space is usually set up with chairs facing the guest speakers, and all of your guests are sitting for the duration of the seminar. In contrast, a conference is much larger than a seminar. Guests typically attend the conference from all over, and the conference can even be broken up into smaller sections! Conferences are held in large conference rooms, specifically in a hotel or right in your workspace building, if you have a room that is large enough to accommodate everyone.

Dress code and formality 

The dress code for seminars is similar to the dress code for a conference. Seminars are a bit less formal than conferences, so the dress code can be business casual. You will want to wear something appropriate for the workplace, but you don’t need to dress completely formal. Conferences are larger gatherings of people, and you don’t know who you may meet or the connections you may make. You may want to dress more professional during a conference, as you may make connections with some high-profile guests. 


Seminars are much shorter in length than conferences, which typically last a few days. Seminars normally last for a few hours, usually between 1-3 hours. The information given at a seminar is able to be shared within those couple of hours, with guests asking questions at the end, if time allows. Conferences are held over a few days, as there is much more information to learn and share. Guests of a conference have more information they need to learn, and there can be several aspects of the conference that the guests need to attend. The maximum number of days a conference should be is 3. 


Seminars typically have one topic to cover, with the guest speakers sharing all of the information they know on the topic. The topic can be chosen by the seminar hosts, and guests can attend if they are intrigued by the topic and want to learn more. Conferences also have a topic that is being covered, and the guests attend the conference because they all have a common interest in the topic. Guests of a conference can also share their thoughts, ideas and gather solutions to the topic. 


Seminars, while they’re smaller, should be held in a smaller room, complete with chairs, tables and microphones. The setup of the seminar room can be changed, based on your event goals or the size of the group. If you want your guests to sit at tables and interact with one another, that can be done! If you want them to sit and absorb the information being presented, then you can eliminate the tables and just have chairs facing the speaker. For conferences, they are usually held in larger rooms, made specifically for conferences. This allows for many more guests to attend the conference, and for every guest to have room to move around. This space also allows for any networking events that may happen at the end of the conference. Whether you choose to host a seminar or conference, keep in mind that geographical location is also important. 41.1% of event planners would only attend a physical in-person event if it was local, according to EventMB.

where are seminars held

Session type 

Seminars are interactive, with guests being able to ask questions and engage with the guest speakers. Depending on the topic chosen for the seminar, your guests can be interactive in the learning and teaching process from the guest speakers. Conferences are more consultative, with the attendees listening to the information being shared and then sharing their thoughts and ideas at the end.  

Mode of delivery 

Seminars are meant to be educational and informative to everyone! Depending on the topic, the guest speakers can educate the guests through presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. If you choose to host your seminar in a training mode, the guests attending the seminar will all have the exact same training, so there will be no questions in the future. (The training seminar can be recorded to be used as reference in the future). For conferences, the speakers can also share their information, and the guests can break into smaller groups to gather thoughts, share ideas and brainstorm solutions. 


Seminars, where they are a smaller type of event that is still used to train attendees or share information, have the ability to certify the guests! The guests can acquire new skills and knowledge during these training sessions, and once the seminar is completed, the guest can receive a certificate of completion. This certification may have an expiration date, so be sure to keep your guests aware when their certification expires and encourage them to attend another seminar to re-certify themselves. In terms of conferences, there is no certification that comes along with attending. The discussions that happen during a conference are just that, and there is no certification or training that comes with a conference. 


Seminars have participation from the guests throughout the seminar! Guests can ask questions and engage with the guest speakers as the seminar goes on; it’s all a part of the educational process! Seminars, as we know, are educational in nature. Guests can become certified in the topic being discussed, as the participation and style of presentation helps guests learn in a more hands-on manner. According to 95% of marketers, live events enable real connections with prospective customers. Conferences can sometimes have high participation, but in a different way. Attendees of the conference can use the information being shared to brainstorm ideas and devise solutions to any issues there are. Conferences usually have a portion of give and take between the guest speakers and the guests, so everyone has a chance to participate.

how to increase conference participation


The motive of a seminar is to discuss the topic at hand, engage with the guest speakers and even become certified in the training you’re providing. The guest speakers can direct the flow of the conversation and encourage the guests to interact and engage with one another. Seminars may have people from all different backgrounds who are interested in the topic of the seminar, and want to further their knowledge on it. On the other hand, conference guests attend the conference because they are like minded and have a genuine interest in the topic being presented. Your conference guests, like seminar guests, want to expand their knowledge on the topic at hand. Conferences usually have time for networking, which can only help to expand the personal and professional networks of your guests. 

Master the art of seminars and conferences

Seminars and conferences may seem similar, but they are different in a few ways! Choosing one over the other may be a difficult choice, but you need to look at your event goals in order to choose the best option for you. If you plan on training your guests on a new product or service, then a seminar is the right choice! Your guests can receive a certification and be trained in an area they will use during  their professional journey. On the other hand, conferences are much larger in nature, and are several days long. Guests can interact with other guests and share their thoughts and opinions on the topic! The great thing about conferences is everyone in attendance is like minded and very interested in the topic, so the conversation will be organic and flow naturally! Whichever type of event you choose, your guests will leave the event full of new knowledge and information.   

Considering hosting a seminar or conference? Hubilo’s event platform can assist you in hosting engaging and informative seminars and conferences. Hubilo will make sure your attendees have an immersive event experience, whether it is a virtual, physical, or hybrid event. Contact us to schedule a demo

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