Difference Between Symposium and Conference

Symposium vs Conference

Seminars, workshops, conferences, symposiums etc are events that are held mostly in academic environments. Many people remain confused between these nomenclatures and cannot tell a symposium from a conference considering their similarities and overlapping in the manner in which they are arranged and participated. However, there are differences pertaining to the number of delegates, topics covered, duration etc that will be discussed in this article.


A symposium is a formal gathering in an academic setting where participants are experts in their fields. These experts present or deliver their opinions or viewpoints on a chosen topic of discussion. It would be correct to label a symposium as a small scale conference as the number of delegates is smaller. There are the usual discussions on the chosen topic after the experts have presented their speeches. The chief characteristic of a symposium is that it covers a single topic or subject and all the lectures given by experts are completed in a single day.

Symposium is a bit casual in nature, and there is not much pressure on the delegates to perform or present lectures in the best possible manner as is the case in other academic events. There are lunch breaks, tea, snacks etc to break the ice further.


Conference refers to a formal meeting where participants exchange their views on various topics. Conference can take place in different fields, and it need not be academic in nature all the time. Thus, we have parent teacher conferences, sport conferences, a trade conference, a conference of journalists, conference of doctors, a conference of research scholars, and so on. A conference is a meeting that has been prearranged and involves consultation and discussion on a number of topics by the delegates.

A conference is on a large scale with a large number of participants though a conference can take place between just two people, the student and his instructor. In general though, a conference refers to a meeting of lots of people coming from different places at the conference venue and discussing their views on a number of topics. A conference stretches over a period of few days with formal discussions taking place on chosen days and according to the agenda of the conference.

Symposium vs Conference

• Conference and symposium are similar events where speakers come together and give their opinions on a chosen subject

• Symposium can be described as a smaller conference that gets over in a single day with a lesser number of delegates

• Symposium is a bit casual in nature with breaks for snacks and lunch

In a symposium, experts give lectures on a single topic whereas in a conference, there is a discussion on several topics