Difference Between Seminar and Conference

Main Difference – Seminar vs Conference

Both seminar and conference refer to a meeting of several people. Words like convention, symposium, workshop, etc. also refer to such meetings. What makes a seminar different from these other types of meetings is its academic nature. A seminar is typically a form of academic instruction at an educational institution or a commercial or professional organization. A conference is a formal meeting for discussion, problem solving, or consultation. Therefore, the main difference between seminar and conference is that seminar is academic in nature whereas a conference can be of various formats such as business, trade, academic, press conference, etc.

What is a Seminar

A seminar is a form of academic meeting. It can be held at an academic institution or offered by a professional or commercial organization. A seminar is generally recurring meetings that focus each time on specific subjects. The attendees are also expected to actively participate in these meetings. Active participation is achieved through engaging in discussion about the relevant topic. A seminar is always lead by a seminar leader or an instructor who directs the discussion. A seminar can also be conducted through a formal presentation as well.

Although seminars are academic in nature, seminars can be also classified into several categories such as educational seminars, business seminars, etc. A business seminar can be a place where new skills are taught to the business owners.Main Difference - Seminar vs Conference

What is a Conference

A conference is a formal meeting whose typical aims are discussion, problem-solving, and consultation. It is a platform where people ‘confer’ about a topic. Since conferences have specific objectives, they can last for several days. As mentioned above, there are various types of conferences, such as academic conferences, trade conferences, business conferences, media conferences, religious conference, etc. An academic conference is a place for academicians and researchers to present and discuss their work. A business conference is a conference that focuses on the new trends and opportunities in the business. Innovative ideas and new information can be exchanged in all types of conferences. It is important to notice that discussions are not allowed in some conferences.

A conference usually has an organized format. Speakers and subjects are selected prior to the conference. There will be a keynote speaker who will deliver the keynote speech. This can be commonly noticed in academic and business conferences.Difference Between Seminar and Conference

Difference Between Seminar and Conference


Seminar is a form of academic instruction that brings together a small group of people to learn about a specific subject.

Conference is a formal meeting in which discussion, problem-solving, and consultation take place. 

Time Taken

Seminars are conducted in one day though they can be recurrent.

Conferences can last for several days.


Conference is a formal meeting.

Seminars are less formal than conferences.


In some conferences, discussions are not allowed.

Discussion is a key feature in a seminar.Difference Between Seminar and Conference - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 4 2015” by UNclimatechange (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

“Dominic Meily Creative photography seminar” by Dominic meily – own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikipedia

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