A conference is generally understood as a meeting of several people to discuss a particular topic. It is often confused with a convention, colloquia or symposium. While a conference differs from the others in terms of size and purpose, the term can be used to cover the general concept. A convention is larger than a conference; it is a gathering of delegates representing several groups.
At a conference, innovative ideas are thrown about and new information is exchanged among experts. Its purpose could be one of the following:
- An academic conference is a gathering of scientists or academicians, where research findings are presented or a workshop is conducted.
- A business conference is held for people working in the same company or industry. They come together to discuss new trends and opportunities pertaining to the business
- A trade conference takes place on a larger scale. Besides businessmen, there are members of the public who come to network with vendors and made new connections. Such a conference consists of workshops and white paper presentations.
- An unconference differs from the traditional conference, since it avoids the high costs, top-down organizational hierarchy and sponsored presentations. All attendees are equally knowledgeable about the topic and the discussion follows an open mode; usually without a single speaker addressing the gathering.