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Convention vs. Conference: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 22, 2023
A convention is a large gathering based on shared interests or professions, while a conference is a formal meeting for discussion, often academic or business-focused.

Key Differences

A convention typically refers to a large gathering of people who share common interests, often in a particular profession or hobby. Conferences, on the other hand, are formal meetings where participants discuss a specific topic, often in the realms of academia or business.
At a convention, attendees might partake in workshops, displays, or networking events relevant to a particular theme or industry. In contrast, a conference often has scheduled talks, presentations, and panels with an aim to share knowledge or research findings.
The scope of a convention can be broad, encompassing a wide range of activities and subjects related to its central theme. Meanwhile, a conference tends to be more specialized, narrowing its focus on a specific field or topic.
While both conventions and conferences provide networking opportunities, a convention's atmosphere is often more relaxed, while a conference maintains a more structured and formal tone.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

Gather people with shared interests or professions.
Facilitate formal discussion, often academic or business.


Generally more relaxed and broad.
More structured and specialized.


Workshops, displays, networking events.
Talks, presentations, panels.


Can encompass a wide range of related subjects.
Tends to focus narrowly on a specific field or topic.


Might be informal, with various events over days.
More scheduled and formal with sessions and agendas.

Convention and Conference Definitions


A large gathering of people with shared interests or professions.
The annual comic book convention attracts thousands of fans.


An association of sports teams that compete mainly among themselves.
The Lakers play in the Western Conference of the NBA.


An assembly or gathering of a particular group.
The political party held its convention to choose a presidential candidate.


A prearranged meeting for consultation or exchange of information.
The teams had a conference to discuss the project details.


An accepted way of doing something; a custom or practice.
It's a convention to shake hands when greeting someone.


A formal meeting for discussion, often academic or business-focused.
The technology conference showcased the latest industry innovations.


A formal agreement between countries.
The Geneva Convention outlines the treatment of prisoners of war.


A series of meetings for discussing a particular subject.
A medical conference on cardiovascular health is scheduled next month.


Established norms or standards within a community.
Breaking social conventions can sometimes lead to misunderstandings.


A deliberative assembly of representatives or delegates.
The conference was held to negotiate the terms of the treaty.


A formal meeting of members, representatives, or delegates, as of a political party, fraternal society, profession, or industry.


A meeting for consultation or discussion.


Are conferences typically longer than seminars?

Yes, conferences often span multiple days with various sessions, whereas seminars are usually shorter and focused.

How is a conference different from a seminar?

A conference is a larger gathering with multiple sessions, while a seminar is typically a single session or lecture on a specific topic.

What's the primary goal of a convention?

The primary goal of a convention is to gather people with shared interests or professions for networking, learning, or entertainment.

What might you find at a business convention?

At a business convention, you might find workshops, product displays, networking events, and keynote speakers.

Are conferences always formal?

While conferences tend to be formal, they can vary in tone based on the topic and audience.

What's the role of keynote speakers at conventions?

Keynote speakers at conventions provide insights, inspire attendees, and often set the tone or theme for the event.

Can conventions be related to hobbies?

Yes, conventions can be related to hobbies, such as comic book conventions or gaming conventions.

Are conventions only held for entertainment industries?

No, conventions can be held for various fields, from entertainment to professional industries.

Can a convention be an established practice?

Yes, "convention" can also refer to an established custom or way of doing something.

Are there conferences for specific academic disciplines?

Yes, many academic disciplines hold conferences to discuss research findings and advancements in the field.

Who typically attends conferences?

Professionals, researchers, scholars, or enthusiasts related to the conference's topic usually attend.

Can a conference be part of a larger convention?

Yes, larger conventions might incorporate conferences as part of their scheduled events.

Can a conference result in published proceedings?

Yes, academic conferences often result in published proceedings summarizing the research presented.

Can conventions be held virtually?

Yes, with advancements in technology, many conventions are now held virtually, especially during times of travel restrictions.

Can conventions influence trends in an industry?

Absolutely, conventions can highlight emerging trends and set directions for industries.

Do conferences always have scheduled agendas?

Most conferences have scheduled agendas to organize discussions, presentations, and panels.

Is a conference typically larger than a workshop?

Yes, a conference usually encompasses multiple sessions and workshops, making it larger in scale.

Are conventions more informal than conferences?

While it varies, conventions often have a more relaxed atmosphere, whereas conferences might maintain a more formal tone.

Can "convention" refer to international agreements?

Yes, "convention" can refer to formal agreements between countries, like the Geneva Convention.

What's the main focus of a business conference?

A business conference focuses on industry trends, innovations, and networking opportunities.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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