A seminar is usually a taster. It is an introduction or an overview of an idea, a technique, a system, a service or a product The seminar is often given in the form of a lecture and will include the opportunity for questions to be asked of the presenter either during the event or as it is drawing to a close.This structure enables a large number of people to attend and evaluate whether the topic is worth pursuing or not as the case may be. Most seminars are of a duration of an hour or two or less.
Workshops are more interactive and practical. The presenter needs to engage with the delegates as individuals. Therefore usually the number of attendees is strictly limited. Much of the content is designed to be one on one or delivered to small “breakout” groups. People who attend workshops should be prepared to get involved. Delegates will be expected to do some practical stuff related to the workshop theme. A workshop will also include some style of critique. The presenter and the other attendees will be expected to pass opinion on exercises undertaken by the group. A workshop can often be a half day or full day duration.
Conferences can take many forms. Some will consist entirely of seminars while others are a mixture of seminars and workshops. In order for a conference to be viable they tend to be held on a much larger scale. In many instances conferences take place in dedicated venues which are equipped to handle large numbers of people. The venue will also be equipped with state of the art audio and visual equipment and have catering facilities on hand to feed the visitors. conferences can be a one day event or anything up to a week.
Why should I attend?
People learn and evaluate new ideas in different ways. Some people can read an article on-line or in a book and translate the written word into a process. Others are not so fortunate. They need to be shown how something works. Many of us need to be “Hands On” in order to comprehend an idea or method. Seminars, workshops and conferences gives the attendee a chance to ask questions, see for him or her self and seek clarification and support from presenters and fellow delegates. Often other people in the room will share their experiences and knowledge of the subject so that others can reason and evaluate the topic under discussion “in the moment” rather than having to reflect or review what had been presented at a later date.
Cost verses value.
Generally the cost of attending an event is considered to be a legitimate business expense and is therefore a tax-deductible investment in your business. So one way of looking at it is that such education is free and that the real cost to a business owner is his time. Time invested in a business is precious so one would expect an educational event to result in added value to your knowledge and skills. Attending a seminar, workshop or conference will not in its self improve what you do in your business. Implementing new ideas, methods and systems will!
Networking – the added bonus.
A spin-off from attending educational events is the networking. Meeting and talking to people in your profession can be very therapeutic. You will be surprised at how many others are in a similar situation or who have similar issues and challenges in their line of work. Often solutions are shared in an informal environment over a cup of coffee or a drink in the bar. Simply knowing that you are not alone and that others are facing the same situations can be inspirational and will prompt you to see things in a new light.
Education can be fun.Take off your blinkers, step out of your comfort zone and S-T-R-E-T-C-H. You’ll be glad you did.