Types of Meetings and Events

What’s the difference between a seminar and a workshop? A trade show and an exhibition ? With all the different meeting terms it can get quite confusing! If you happen to plan meetings it pays to get your terminology right, that’s why we here at eVenues put together this handy list of all the types of meetings and events. If you see a term we missed just email us at team@evenues.com and we'll include it!

Annual General Meetings:
An Annual General Meeting (AGM), or a shareholders meeting, is a large gathering held by publicly traded companies. These meetings are held in order to let shareholders ask the board of directors questions about a company’s health, as well as to elect new members to the board.

Board Meetings:
While the term “Board Meeting” technically means a gathering of a company or organization’s board of directors, to us a board meeting really is a gathering of decision makers. At this gathering, important facts are presented and decisions are made as to the best course of action to take in the coming months.

Further Reading: Effective Board Meetings

Breakout Session:
At a convention or conference, breakout sessions are meetings (workshops, seminars, or presentations) intended for small groups. These meetings can be held in smaller meeting rooms within a convention center or hotel as well as off-site meeting and boardrooms.

Further Reading: What is a Breakout Session

Business Dinners and Banquets:
These are generally formal celebrations organized by a company or organization to celebrate achievements within the organization and to boost employee and member morale. Depending on the size of the organization, these dinners may be a small gathering at a local restaurant or conducted in a large hotel banquet hall or unique event space like an art gallery or museum.

Further Reading: 5 Tips for Business Dinners and Banquets

Although “conventions” and “conferences” are terms that are used interchangeably, the meeting industry standard definition of a conference is of a meeting of a shorter duration than a convention and designed to meet a specific objective. See: Convention.

Further Reading: What is a Conference?

A colloquium can be best described as an “academic networking event.” Participants are often experts in a given field and they meet to informally present and exchange new ideas. Some academic programs require participation in a colloquium in order to complete the program.

Further Reading: What is a Colloquium?

Conclaves are meetings conducted in secret. In general, conclaves are used to describe “closed door” meetings between individuals who have a certain level of power or influence. One of the most famous conclaves is the Papal conclave, where cardinals meet to elect a new pope.

While most Americans generally associate the word “Congress” with the legislative branch of government, a congress can also a large group of individuals who meet on a regularly scheduled basis, often to make decisions through a debate and voting process.

Consumer Shows:
A consumer or gate show is a trade show that’s open to the general public. These shows generally have an entrance fee. People interested in learning about the latest products (electronics, automobiles, etc) often go to consumer shows.

Further Reading: What is a Consumer Show?

A convention is an a large gathering of people with a shared interest (usually professional or fandom related). These events are often recurring, and are usually scheduled at a specific time each year. Conventions usually have keynote speakers, as well as presentations that familiarize attendees with advancements or trends within a their particular field of interest. See: Conference.

Further Reading: What is a Convention?

An exhibition is a trade show that focuses on B2B businesses.

Expo or Expositions:
An expo is a large scale exhibition or trade show often conducted on an international level. One of the most common examples of an expo is The World’s Fair.

A fair is a trade show or expo organized for the purpose of exhibiting arts and crafts, industrial products and agricultural products, but more local and on a smaller scale. Unlike most trade shows, entertainment and fair food (think fried twinkies and french fry studded corn dogs!) are often a major draw.

A social gathering or party, sometimes of a ceremonial nature. A function is usually one or one of several gatherings that contribute to a larger event. See also: Galas, Business Dinners,

A fundraiser can be a party, dance, dinner organized for the express purpose of raising money for a cause or organization.

Further Reading: Successful Fundraising Events

A gala is a large scale dinner gathering or party that often includes entertainment and/or awards ceremonies following dinner. See also: Function , Business Dinner

"Green" Meetings:
"Green" meetings are events produced with sustainability in mind. When planning an event considerations are made concerning the use of water, electricity, fuel as well as the consumption of renewable products as opposed to disposable products.

Further Reading: Why Green Meetings Matter

International Events:
According to the meeting industry standard definition, an international event is any event where 15% or more of the participants come from out of the the event’s host country.

A meetup is an informal meeting or get-together organized for people with similar interests. These interests can be anything: dating, networking, board games, romance novels, meditation, hiking, wine tasting–just to name a few. Most meetups are associated with meetup.com, a website that provides listing services for meetups.

Further Reading: The Quick and Dirty Guide to Meetup.com

Networking Events:
Organizing or sponsoring a networking event can be a great way to raise a company or individual’s profile within a certain community. Networking events can run from informal schmooze and booze affairs at a local bar to fully fledged galas complete with an open bar.

A generic term for any social gathering.

Plenary or General Sessions:
A large meeting open to all people attending an event. These sessions often kick off a large conference or convention before it begins.

Political Events:
Political events are organized to raise awareness or funds for a particular candidate or cause. Democratic and Republican national conventions, the largest political events in the U.S. are organized to energize the base and bring in delegates from each of the 50 states.

Further Reading: An Inside Look At Political Event Planning

Press Conferences:
Press conferences are often organized by newsmakers (most often in politics but also in business and in sports) to make an announcement or to field questions by press who happen to be invited to the conference.

Product Launch Events:
Product Launches are often large scale events whose organizers invite journalists, bloggers and social media influencers to witness the very first unveiling of a company’s product. A successful product launch will often include a venue that is unique to the product being used.

Further Reading: Product Launch Events

In the meetings industry, receptions refer to a social function where light refreshments are served, usually buffet style. Receptions are often informal, and attendees will usually stand up and socialize rather than sit down at a table. For weddings and other social events, receptions are informal celebrations or gatherings that follow a more formal ceremony.

Retreats and Team Building Events:
Retreats can be anything from go-cart races to ski trips to ropes courses. Essentially the purpose of the retreat is to get team members to know each other better and thus be more efficient as a team.

Further Reading: Organizing a Team Building Event

In business, seminars are meetings organized to inform a group of people about a specific topic, or to teach a specific skill. Expert speakers and teachers are usually invited to speak on topics like personal finance, investing, real estate, web marketing, and many others. See Workshop.

Further Reading: What is a Seminar?

Shareholder’s Meetings:
See Annual General Meeting.

Social Events:
A large gathering organized to celebrate major life events and religious ceremonies. Common social events include: anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, and bar/bat mitzvahs.

Symposiums are meetings organized so that experts in a given field can meet, present papers, and discuss issues and trends or make recommendations for a certain course of action.

Further Reading: What is a Symposium?

Trade Shows:
Trade Shows are an opportunity for companies to exhibit some of their latest products, as well as yet to be released prototypes to journalists as well as others in the industry. See also: Exhibition, Consumer and Gate Shows, Expo.

The terms “workshop” and “seminar” are used interchangeably. While both are education focused events, workshops generally have more hands-on and group activities. Workshops are better for teaching skills that require interactivity and individual participation to learn. See: Seminar.

Further Reading: Planning a Workshop