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What is a Symposium vs. a Conference? And What are the Differences?

What is a Symposium vs. a Conference? And What are the Differences?

What is a Symposium vs. a Conference? And What are the Differences?

Conferences and symposiums are both great opportunities to network with fellow professionals in your field and learn more about your industry. However, they differ on several fronts. Conferences are one-day events that feature a series of speakers who give presentations on specific topics related to the conference’s focus. Usually, conferences last for a full day and occur on the same date and at the same location each year. On the other hand, a symposium is different from a conference in that it typically lasts for several days, has multiple presenters speaking about unique topics, and occurs at different locations (often hotels or conference centers). While some conferences have breakout sessions that focus on certain topics, an entire symposium is centered around these topics.

female speaker giving presentation in hall at Symposium

What is the difference between a conference and a symposium?

It’s a common misconception that conferences and symposiums are the same thing. While they both have similar goals — to bring like-minded professionals together to educate and inspire one another — they are structured in different ways. Conference – A conference is a one-day event that features a series of speakers who give presentations on specific topics related to the conference’s focus. Usually, conferences last for a full day and occur on the same date and at the same location each year. Symposium – On the other hand, a symposium is different from a conference in that it typically lasts for several days, has multiple presenters speaking about unique topics, and occurs at different locations (often hotels or conference centers). While some conferences have breakout sessions that focus on certain topics, an entire symposium is centered around these topics.

What to Expect at a Conference

You’ll hear talks on a variety of topics, including the future of your industry, recent trends in your field, and strategies for improving your skills and productivity. Often, conferences have concurrent sessions where you can choose from a variety of topics to attend. Some conferences also feature smaller-scale workshops and hands-on training sessions during which you will participate in activities related to the topics discussed. Other highlights of a conference include exhibit halls filled with vendors showcasing their products, lots of networking opportunities (such as happy hours, receptions, and networking breakfasts), and opportunities to build your resume by obtaining conference credentials and attending workshops that can be listed on your résumé. Some conferences also offer prizes to lucky attendees, such as free trip to an international conference. Be on the lookout for any giveaways.

microphone with background people out focus

What to Expect at a Symposium

A symposium will also feature speakers who discuss a variety of topics related to the symposium’s focus. However, unlike a conference that usually only lasts for a day, a symposium will stretch out over a few days. This allows for more presenters to speak about various topics, so you have more options to choose from. An entire symposium might be dedicated to a specific industry, such as healthcare, technology, or finance. Or, it might be geared toward a specific company or organization. For example, an event might be organized to celebrate a company’s anniversary or to recognize its employees for a job well done. In addition to the difference in the length of the event, you can also expect a symposium to have more “extras” than a conference. For example, some symposiums feature guest speakers who aren’t part of the core group of presenters. In addition, there might be more networking opportunities at a symposium.

How to Network at a Conference or Symposium

Networking is one of the best ways to get your name out there, get introduced to new people, and learn from the experiences of others. There are many ways to get involved and network at both conferences and symposiums. If you’re attending a conference, consider attending a workshop in which you can participate in an activity that relates to your field. This will allow you to network with other attendees who have opted to participate in the same workshop. You can also attend breakfasts and receptions to network with fellow attendees. At a symposium, you can network with others by attending the different presentations and networking receptions. You might also want to consider volunteering at the event. This will allow you to become more involved with the symposium and help you meet more people in your industry.

Final Words: Which is Right for You?

When choosing between a conference and a symposium, keep in mind that both offer opportunities to network with professionals in your field, learn from others, and discover new ways to improve your skills. Depending on what’s most important to you, you can select the event that best meets your needs.

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