What is the difference between a conference and a meeting?

Conferences and Meetings

Meetings and conferences are events in which a group of people come together to share information. What sets the two apart is scale, formality, and the overarching goal of the event. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between conferences and meetings. In particular, we will explore how each of the two can be used in a business setting to achieve an end goal.

What is a meeting?

A meeting is a congregation of people who are called together to formally discuss a subject or topic. Meetings can vary in size. Generally, they are composed of two or more people whose purpose is to come together to share information and opinions around a certain subject. Meetings do not always happen face-to-face. In fact, they can be carried out virtually either over the telephone or via video conference (i.e. Skype or Zoom).

Examples of different types of meetings are committee meetings, board meetings, staff meetings, team meetings and committee meetings. These can happen in staff rooms, offices, function rooms, restaurants, and cafes. Indeed, anywhere a group of people can convene to discuss matters on their agenda, either face to face or virtually.

By and large, there is usually an end goal to a meeting. They are commonly used to deliver key organisational updates, open discussion between colleagues, share ideas and give progress updates on a project.

What is a Conference?

A conference is a meeting of people who come together to share information (or ‘confer’) about a chosen topic. While meetings are generally focused on a key outcome, conferences tend to be bigger and involve bringing together key players in a field to discuss and share information around a certain subject.

Conferences are usually made up of a series of talks and discussions that are organised in advance. They may also feature breakout sessions, Q&A sessions, guest speakers, team building sessions, training, and workshops.

Examples of different types of conferences include academic conferences and business conferences. These are more commonly held in large venues as conferences tend to have bigger guest lists. They may, for example, be held at a hotel which has a large function room able to accommodate for a larger audience.

What are the key differences between a meeting and a conference?

As can be seen above, the differences between meetings and conferences largely come down to scale and scope. Meetings are, by and large, made up of one group of people meeting each other to discuss and share ideas. Often there is an agenda and end goal, where attendees walk away with key points of action to execute in their roles.

Alternatively, a conference is much more about disseminating information. Typically, the guest list for these types of events is much bigger and therefore they are held at bigger venues to accommodate the audience. Often conferences are broken down into chunks and held over a day, or even several days, whereas meetings tend to be much smaller – confined to a morning, afternoon or (in some cases) a day.

Meeting and Conferences with KDM

While there are key differences between meetings and conferences, it does not mean that one is more important than the other. When it comes down to it, the reason why you are gathering a group of people together (small or large) is the most important thing. What’s more, in both you are sharing information and encouraging engagement. Therefore, it is important for both meetings and conferences to be well planned, organised and executed.

If you would like help in planning your next meeting or conference, we can help. We are an award-winning events management company with over 2 decades of experience in providing support to organisations looking to deliver a wide range of events, be that a conference, corporate event, team building activity, or Christmas party. For more information, and to speak to one of our experienced Event Managers, contact us today. We’d be happy to help!

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