What’s the Difference Between a Meeting and an Event?

It seems that nowadays the words meetings and events are thrown around interchangeably. There is, in fact, a big difference between the two.

First and foremost: All meetings are events but not all events are meetings.

Now, let’s get down to the details.

When people are speaking about events, they are mostly likely talking about Special Events, which can be either corporate or not-for-profit. Either way, the goal of a Special Event is to commemorate, celebrate, or raise awareness. Examples include a company’s award ceremony, a ribbon cutting event, or a nonprofit’s annual gala.

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Meetings serve an educational or business purpose. Examples include a seminar or a board of directors meeting. A meeting can have a special event within it. For example, the annual meeting of an association can have an awards dinner as part of the multi-day agenda.

And while we’re on the topic of definitions. What’s the difference between an expo and a trade show? Expos are open to the public while trade shows have a business to business purpose where commerce takes place.

Also see our post on Trade Shows vs. Conferences vs. Conventions.

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Dan Berger is the Founder and CEO of Social Tables. He has received nearly 20 leadership awards, including the Pacesetter Award from the Events Industry Council and Top 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by Successful Meetings. He has been named Tech Titan by Washingtonian and was named a finalist for E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Born in Israel and raised in New York City, Dan now calls Washington, DC home. He has a BA from Hunter College and an MBA from Georgetown.