Seminars relate to any meeting set up for the discussion of one or more topics of interest to groups of persons. Seminars may cover small or big groups and may be held in classrooms or meeting halls or larger auditoria. They may be organized by institutes of learning or business organizations or chambers of commerce and the like.
Seminars may be for a day or longer, ranging from 3 to 5 days. Seminars on banking institutions, information technology, agriculture and food processing and business management are just a few examples of interactive business communication. Seminars achieve the objective of bringing together a group of interested persons on a common platform for facilitating exchange of views, ideas and developments relating to specific topics. Seminars are generally organized around a particular theme and may include several related topics. They normally include an introductory session, a keynote address, different sessions, panel discussions and concluding sessions.
While the specialist speakers and experts make their presentations, the participants interact and benefit from the question-and-answer sessions. Considering that substantial time, effort and resources are involved in organizing seminars, the seminar organisers, coordinators, resource persons and participants should collectively endeavour to make the deliberations focussed and worthwhile. Workshops are of a similar nature and relate to a course of study or work, especially of an experimental or creative kind. Workshops bring together a group of people working on a particular project or area of interest. Workshops are highly participative in nature. They facilitate skill building through hands-on participation.
Normally conducted in smaller groups, where attention is given to every participant, workshops help make learning easier. Examples of a workshop are a theatre workshop, carpentry workshop, horticulture workshop, etc. Workshops normally involve demonstrations and how-to-do tips. Depending upon the mix of participants, workshops may be basic or advanced.
It is expected that people who attend such workshops learn basic skills on such specific activities. Symposia refer to the plural of symposium. A symposium is also a conference organized to cover a particular subject in detail, especially relating to an academic subject. One can think of a symposium on renewable energy or distance learning or Vedic mathematics and so on. It is another valuable means of disseminating knowledge. All these interactive methods of communication help add value to the participants. More often than not, fees are charged from the participants. The participants emerge wiser and better informed about the subjects discussed.
Lack of adequate planning, absence of well-informed specialists or experts and not providing adequate opportunities to raise questions and get the doubts clarified will undermine the effectiveness of such events. Every effort should be made to make them worthwhile.