Symposium: Definition, Features, Types, and How to Plan One

Eventyco Event Management

Eventyco Event Management

March 31

Professionals or people with shared interests in different fields often meet to discuss the latest developments, research, or innovations in their field. These discussions usually take place as conferences, seminars, workshops, and symposiums. However, there are differences between a symposium and others.

According to the international publisher AIJR, a symposium is an academic meeting where the participants, who are usually experts in their field, come together to discuss trends, present papers and make recommendations about a specific subject or topic in their area of expertise.

Differences between Symposium and Conference/Seminar/Workshop

Symposium vs. Conference

A symposium is a meeting of experts in a particular field where the speakers focus on a specific subject or topic. However, a conference is a gathering of people that share the same interest, where the speakers present papers on much broader topics or generalized themes related to a particular field.

Also, because conferences are typically large scale, they can run for several days, while symposium discussions can last for just a day.

Symposium vs. Seminar

In a symposium, experts in a particular field focus on a specific topic, while a seminar is a less formal recurring meeting in an academic setting, or a professional institution led by an instructor who focuses on specific subjects in each meeting. 

Symposium vs. Workshop

Just like a symposium, a workshop is a gathering that focuses on a particular subject, but unlike a symposium, a workshop involves more hands-on activities where participants tend to engage in practical exercises.

Features of a Symposium

Focuses on a Specific Topic

A symposium often focuses on a specific topic. For example, if the topic of a symposium is “Using Artificial intelligence in Writing”, all the experts' discussions in the symposium will focus only on artificial intelligence in writing. 

Specialized Expertise

Experts in the field often engage in symposium discussions and presentations. These experts talk about their latest discoveries and innovations on that subject.


Unlike a conference, a symposium typically takes one day, and it is attended by fewer people.

Types of Symposium Sessions

Symposium sessions are of two types: Panel and presenter symposia. In a panel symposium, a group of panelists made up of more than two persons gives their opinions on a specific topic.

A presenter Symposium is a type of symposium where the experts present papers on a particular subject.

Steps on How to Plan a Well-Organized Symposium

If you want to plan a well-organized symposium, it is essential to draw up a plan. Follow these necessary steps to learn how to organize a successful symposium.

1. Choose a Topic for the Symposium

Before organizing a symposium, it is crucial to decide on a topic. Your decision on a topic will be based on an idea you are interested in, a subject many experts are interested in, or a concept relevant to a trending issue.

2. Make a Choice of a Symposium Name

When picking a name for your symposium, you need to be creative about it so that it will pique the interest of the attendees. It should include the name of the subject of discussion.

3. Draw up a Budget

Part of organizing any event is making a financial plan. Drawing up a budget will enable you to discover your funding needs. Your budget should include funding for travel, venue, welfare, and general logistics.

4. Decide on Symposium Speakers

The speakers you will invite for the symposium should typically be experts in the topic you have chosen. You can seek them out by researching about experts in the subject matter; check out what they have written on the said topic, their interviews, podcasts, or their social media posts.

 In addition, the budget you are working with will also determine your choice of speakers. Choosing speakers within the region of the symposium venue may cost less because you may not need to pay for their airfares or accommodation fees. You may only have to include their transportation fees to the venue.

5. Pick a Date

Choose a date that will be convenient for the speakers. This date should also include a deadline for symposium registration and abstract submission. This will help you organize better by knowing the number of attendees you would cater to in the symposium. 

6. Online Registration Option

Choose an online registration option for attendees to register. This medium will also enable you to manage the registration process easily.

7. Search for Sponsors

When you can detect the funding needs of your symposium, you can then proceed to the next stage by looking for sponsors. Ideas for sponsors can include stakeholders, brands, or institutions that have a shared interest in the subject of discussion or can fulfill a particular need in the symposium. For instance, you can contact a drink manufacturing company to provide drinks for the event or a printing press to handle the printing needs of the symposium.

8. Delegate Duties among your organizers/Volunteers

For a well-organized symposium, you need to delegate duties among your fellow organizers or volunteers. That way, everyone knows their individual duties and what is expected of them.

9. Promote the Symposium

You need to promote and create awareness about the symposium, so it can reach your target audience, and this can be done through TV advertisements, radio jingles, or newspaper advertisements.

You can also create social media pages for your symposium and promote it on the pages.

10. Design a Program Agenda

It is crucial to design a program schedule and allocate a particular time duration to every program on the agenda. For example, each speaker or panel discussion should be aware of the duration of time they have to present their idea. The time should also be allocated for various things like tea break, dinner, or questions from the audience during the presentations.

Now that you know the essential steps involved in organizing a symposium, put them into practice by planning and managing your symposium to make it a resounding success.

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