SpeakerNet News Compilations

Meeting Terminology

Marita Littauer

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Someone recently asked for clarification on various terms that are used by speakers and meeting planners to describe the different events for which speakers are hired, as they are often used interchangeably. While the dictionary offers one set of answers, we wanted to find out what are the accepted norms in the industry.

I submitted the question to fellow professional speakers and subscribers to SpeakerNet News. Following is a compilation of the answers. While not every participant in the casual survey agreed, there was a strong consensus allowing the following conclusions. Most contributors agreed that the terms are often used interchangeably and that an event that is a "seminar," for example, may, for example, also be "inspirational." One may have elements of the other. As one respondent said, "Make sure you ask what a meeting planner means when they say these to you."


  • Mixed public and general audience.
  • Content is general and applies to a wide range of attendees.
  • No pre or post work is required.
  • Lecture format, speaker talks, audience listens and takes notes. May
  • involve some interaction.
  • Often fee paid to attend.
  • Full day or several days.


  • May be public or private audience
  • Content is specific to group and/or specific topic
  • Pre or post work may be required.
  • Interactive format, all participate, experiential, small group. Workshop leaders guide audience members to develop their own solutions.
  • Forty-five minutes, quick interactive session.


  • On-site or in-house audience.
  • Content is tailored to the group and learning objectives of the organization.
  • Pre-work is required, pre-training assessment is done, follow-up occurs.
  • Hands-on format, practice, develop a particular skill.
  • New goals are set and are discussed at predetermined frequencies.


  • Effects emotion.
  • Religious or spiritual theme.
  • Deeper, long lasting. Heart and soul driven.
  • Leads to happiness or success based on beliefs.
  • Makes people feel good, "warm fuzzy."
  • Stimulate any creative thought or action.
  • Stories are used as uplifting examples.


  • Information specific.
  • Goal driven, business and/or education based.
  • Gets people to get up and do something, take action.
  • Direct tie to the day-to-day activities and attitudes the audience needs to do/have in order to achieve similar success.
  • Urged to do something specific.
  • "Cheerleader"

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions