Tuesday, March 9, 2021

What's The Difference? (9/31)

  9 of 31 - SOLSC 2021

I've been pondering something and you might be able to help shed some light on my uncertainty. What is the difference between a training, a workshop, a seminar, and a presentation?

I will share my current thinking with you. Please help me develop my understanding on this.

A presentation is mostly one directional; the presenter tells and/or shows something to others. There is no expectation placed on the audience other than respectful listening behavior. The audience may not be interested in learning anything; it could be simple curiosity (or coercion). Presentations tend to last somewhere between a few minutes and an hour.

This is one more step along a continuum from a presentation as a seminar expects some exchange between the person presenting and the audience. (It is not lost on me that you can be a presenter at a seminar - interesting.) These exchanges may simply be verbal feedback or short interactions. Is a seminar longer in duration? Is it a combination of participation and duration that change it from a presentation? Someone who attends a seminar wants to learn something.

Moving further along the continuum, a workshop can be an hour or over several days. I expect there to be interaction in a workshop. Maybe this is the area of difference, a workshop is not just about sharing ideas in discussion - a workshop takes learning deeper. A workshop participant (I am noticing it is no longer an audience member) can expect to have activities they will be a part of, either individually or with others. Someone attending a workshop not only wants to learn something, they also want to work on figuring out how to apply it to their life.

Is this where we step off the continuum? Is a 'training' more about purpose and any of the above forms could serve that purpose?

What are your thoughts? Are there terms I have missed?


  1. I like thinking about how synonyms have different meanings. I agree with how you've arranged these words & described them. What about the word "session?" Is that a general, catch-all term? Another one I often hear is "inservice," sometimes used as a noun and somes as "in-service training." For our professional development this year, we've registered for "courses" on our learning management system and worked at our own pace.

  2. Although these are pretty much standard, PD terms can vary across fields.Just off the top of my head, short courses and clinics come to mind.

  3. Training sounds so robotic - very much like what happens in a police canine unit. I like seminars and workshops or symposiums or exhibitions.

  4. Interesting! Also, we could add that the purpose of a presentation and seminar could just be to inform or promote, and that of workshops and training, to train.