The event world is so diverse, vast and dynamic that defining an event might turn out to be a tricky task sometimes. New event types and formats are emerging every now and then. Moreover, events are often a hybrid of two or more event types. To help you find your bearings in the jungle of event types, we’ve created this glossary – a useful guide for any event organizer that we will regularly update with new items and information.
A formal professional gathering of people who share the same industry, profession or professional interest. They are most commonly in-person, indoor events.
“A formal occasion at which prizes are given to honour achievement in a particular field” Oxford Dictionaries. Usually, awards ceremonies are public and formal events, gathering a lot of media attention and publicity. Famous examples: Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars); Grammy Awards; Nobel Prize; etc. However, award ceremonies might also be internal, private events, for example, award ceremonies within companies/organisations for recognising employees’ achievements. An award ceremony could be a separate event or part of a bigger event.
Birds of a Feather (BoF)
“BoF session, an informal meeting at conferences, where the attendees group together based on a shared interest and carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda.” Wikipedia
Brand Engagement Event
A Live, entertainment event with the implicit objective of creating a closer bond between the consumer and the brand. Brand engagement events are invaluable part of the marketing strategy of any brand. They usually take place at lively and public outdoor locations (public squares, popular shopping streets, parks, popular meeting venues) or indoor venues (shopping malls, supermarkets).
Break IN the Room
An event format where multiple presentations happen simultaneously onstage and the audience chooses which one(s) to listen to using a headset.
A social, informal event or a talk that provides an occasion for getting a group of people together to spend time under the stars around a campfire. It’s a great way to create bonding and trust among the attendees and sets a perfect atmosphere for networking and learning experience.
A speaker presents an idea in front of a discussion group. The idea is share knowledge and to create an interactive session whereby it is the attendees who drive the discussion and the presenter is the facilitator. The setting of a campfire session should resemble a campfire event with an intimate, cosy ambiance which will incite participants to tell stories and connect with one another.
A special event devoted to a certain cause for raising awareness and/or collecting money/other resources and support. Their aim is to attract as much public and media attention as possible to a certain cause. They could have various forms: concerts, charity events, cultural event etc. Cause events are often (but not only) organized by non-governmental organisations.
A formal event, celebrating a particular achievement or anniversary. It could be part of a bigger event such as opening/closing ceremony of a conference or a separate event like an award ceremony, a graduation ceremony, etc.
A public performance of music (singer(s) and/or instrumentalist(s)) with entertainment purposes. Concerts could have various forms: indoor or outdoor, paid or free, for-profit or fundraising/cause events.
A formal meeting of many people to discuss ideas or problems, related to a particular topic, usually for several days. In the recent years, apart from the typical live/in-person conferences, we also observe online/virtual and hybrid conferences. Examples of conferences: international conference on the environment, business conference, startup conference, medicine conference, etc.
“A formal meeting or an assembly of representatives for the discussion, arrangement, or promotion of some matter of common interest.” Dictionary.com. Usually it is a large, very formal event, gathering representatives of the same industry or profession and it lasts from one day to a couple of days.
“A large meeting of people who come to a place for usually several days to talk about their shared work or other interests or to make decisions as a group.” Merriam-Webster
An entertainment event organized by a company/organisation for its employers, partners and/or important clients. Its main objective is strengthening brand loyalty and enhancing brand engagement. It’s typical for big companies and enterprises and usually includes a dinner or a cocktail, and an entertainment part or interesting activities.
An event format where the audience chooses who presents and what will be presented by using interactive voting.
A regular meeting that takes place in a certain period of time, for example, every 6 months or once a year. It is most commonly an internal corporate event.
An event related to and honoring culture in its various forms and aspects and considered as valuable, enriching and enlightening for the society. Cultural events could be anything from a book party launch to an art exhibition or cultural public parades.
Customer Appreciation Party
A corporate event organised with the purpose of engaging and thanking customers for their dedication and intended to build or foster relationships with them. There are all kinds of themes for these kinds of parties: a garden party, a Christmas party, a wine tasting, a spring picnic, a trip to a local beer garden or brewery etc.
“As per the TV show Doha Debates two teams debate a motion. The audience vote initially on the motion and then again at the end of the debate.“ Audience Live
Employee Appreciation Event
The purpose of the employee appreciation event is acknowledgment of the employees’ hard work and recognition of their achievements. It is a great way to motivate employees and to build stronger teams. There are all kinds of themes and formats of these kind of events: from (internal) awards ceremonies and dinner parties to employees’ picnics, pancake breakfasts or prize wheel giveaways. What is important is for the participants, namely the employees, to feel appreciated and to have some fun.
An event at which objects (such as works of art or other items of interest) are displayed in a public space (usually gallery, museum or a trade fair, etc.) for the general public. “While many exhibitions are shown in just one venue, some exhibitions are shown in multiple locations and are called travelling exhibitions, and some are online exhibitions.
Though exhibitions are common events, the concept of an exhibition is quite wide and encompasses many variables. Exhibitions range from an extraordinarily large event such as a World’s Fair exposition to small one-artist solo shows or a display of just one item.“ Wikipedia
A public showing of an object (usually a work of art or an object meant to educate) or of a small collection of objects.
A live/in-person event designed to create engaging, memorable and fun experiences in order to establish a closer bond between the consumers and a brand. It takes place at lively and public outdoor locations (center squares, popular shopping streets, popular parks, popular meeting venues) or indoor venues (shopping malls, supermarkets).
An exposition or a large-scale public exhibition. Its main purpose is displaying of products or services by different companies or organisations to potential clients and/or the general public. Expos are live, public, indoor or outdoor events. Examples: financial expo, technology expo, food expo, healthcare expo
A live, entertainment event with a specified focus, opened to the general public. It is a grand event gathering a lot of people for celebrating or honoring a certain topic or achievements in some areas. Examples: music festivals, film festivals, food festivals, dance festivals, etc. They could be either outdoor or indoor events.
A public,live event gathering people for a variety of entertainment or commercial activities. It could last from one afternoon to several weeks.
An event format where a small group of people (usually 5-8), situated in a circle, discuss a hot topic or share ideas or information in full view of a larger group of listeners. “Fishbowl processes provide a creative way to include the “public” in a small group discussion. They can be used in a wide variety of settings, including workshops, conferences, organizational meetings and public assemblies. The fishbowl is almost always part of a larger process of dialogue and deliberation.” Knowledge Sharing Toolkit
Fundraising Event / Fundraiser / Fundraising Benefits
A special event aiming to collect money or other resources in order to support a charity campaign, a cause or an organization. They could have different formats: from charity auctions to informal gatherings or dinner parties. Fundraising events are often (but not only) organized by non-governmental organisations.
An event that is organised and conducted in a way which minimizes the negative impact on the environment.
General Sessions Mash-Up
The concept is to blend several different formats to prepare a more engaging general session. The different parts/sections are usually very short so that a balanced general mash-up session is achieved.
Hallmark (Tourist) Event
“Hallmark tourist events are major fairs, expositions, cultural and sporting events of international status which are held on either a regular or a one-off basis. A primary function of the hallmark event is to provide the host community with an opportunity to secure high prominence in the tourism market place.” Springer.com
“A head to head interview with a key presenter as per the popular BBC program. The audience indicated their opinion by way of a moving graph on screen.” Audience Live
A ‘live’ event with a virtual component or in other words an event that combines an in-person audience with a ‘virtual’ audience that attends the event online. “A true hybrid event allows both a live and online audience to view the same content at the same time and also allows both audiences, the speakers and other commentators to interact with one another simultaneously via spoken questions, typed chat and social media channels. Integrated interaction, discussion and networking are key components of a hybrid event.” Conferencefocus.com
“Ignite (Ignite Talks) is a series of events where speakers have five minutes to talk on a subject accompanied by 20 slides, for 15 seconds each, automatically advanced. Ignite started in Seattle, and it has spread to 350+ organizing teams in cities, universities, governments and companies who have hosted thousands of events.” Wikipedia
Incentive Travel / Incentive
A form of group travel, paid by companies to reward their top performers or customers by sending them on unforgettable trips of a few days’ duration. Incentive events are always ‘live’/in-person events.
In-person events or ‘live’ events are events whose attendees are physically present at a certain (physical) location as opposed to online or virtual events.
“A knowledge café or World Café is a type of business meeting or organisational workshop which aims to provide an open and creative conversation on a topic of mutual interest to surface their collective knowledge, share ideas and insights, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject and the issues involved.” Wikipedia
“A lightning talk is a very short presentation lasting only a few minutes, given at a conference or similar forum. Several lightning talks will usually be delivered by different speakers in a single session, sometimes called a data blitz.
Some formats of lightning talk, including PechaKucha and Ignite, involve a specific number of PowerPoint slides that are automatically advanced at fixed intervals.” Wikipedia
‘Live’ events or in-person events are events whose attendees are physically present at a certain (physical) location as opposed to online or virtual events.
At Lost lectures events the audiences is taken out of the typical corporate conference environments and transported into secret pop up hideaways. Two things are essential for this type of event: unusual event venues and the element of surprise.
“Formal or informal deliberative assembly of individuals called to debate certain issues and problems, and to take decisions.” Businessdictionary.com. Meetings could differ in size but are usually from small to medium sized events.
Masterclasses / Master Class
A seminar, a class or a workshop for advanced audience conducted by an expert in a particular field. It usually lasts from some hours to a day or two.
Multi-Sensory (Experiential) Events
A form of experiential events which incorporate a multi-sensory approach. The concept is to affect all human senses of the attendees so that they are engaged at a deeper level.
An event, specially designed for the purpose of building relationships and/or creating new contacts among individuals or groups of people that share a common interest. Networking events usually fall into one of two categories: social or business. Business networking events have the implicit objective to form professional relationships that may boost one’s business or employment prospects.
A networking event may be planned as a group gathering, for example: association networking event or as a gathering of individuals with mutual interests, for example: speed-date; buyers-sellers events. Networking events are also often a part of other events such as conferences, conventions, trainings, etc.
Also called virtual events, online events are events that take place totally online through the aid of a computer (a tablet or a smartphone) and the Internet, or in other words, events whose attendees and/or participants meet through sharing a common virtual environment on the web, not an actual physical location.
Open Mic Sessions
“An open mic or open mike (derived from open microphone) is a live show where audience members may perform at the microphone. Usually, the performers sign up in advance for a time slot with the host or master of ceremonies. These events are typically focused on performance arts like poetry and the spoken word, music, and comedy.” Wikipedia
Open Space (Technology)
“A tool that enables groups of any size to address complex, important issues and achieve meaningful results quickly. In Open Space meetings and events, participants create and manage their own agenda of parallel working sessions around a central theme of strategic importance.” People and Planet
The OST events could vary from 5 to 2000+ people and usually last more than 1 day.
“A social event at which a group of people meet to talk, eat, drink, dance, etc., often in order to celebrate a special occasion” Cambridge Dictionary
There are all kinds of parties according to the occasion and/or the theme of the party: a dinner party, a birthday party, a bachelor’s party, a black-and-white party, a Halloween party, a corporate party etc.
Pecha Kucha (Nights)
“PechaKucha or Pecha Kucha (from Japanese: chit-chat) is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights.” Wikipedia
A private, by invitation-only, social event that celebrates personal, life-cycle events. These are most commonly events such as weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, bachelors parties, hen’s parties /bridal showers, christenings etc.
General assembly for all participants in a conference or other formal gathering.
An event or sequence of events arranged to introduce a new product to the market. Its main objective is to attract attention to a new product and to make sales. It could be compared to a “grand opening” of the product to the public and is important part of the marketing strategy of any product. Product launches are ‘live’ events which usually incorporate entertainment element for the audience. They happen at lively public venues whether outdoor or indoor such as: center squares, popular shopping streets, parks (outdoors); shopping malls, supermarkets (indoors) etc.
At Q&A Sessions (Questions & Answers sessions) the audience could pose questions to the speaker(s). The Q&A most often follow the presentation/speech of the speaker(s) as part of the session (ex. 30 min speaking slot and 20 min Q&A slot). However, Q&A could be a totally separate and independent session or even involving no presentations or speeches but just conversations or interviews under a Q&A form. Usually it’s the moderator who facilitates the conversation between attendees and the speaker(s). Q&A tools/apps that allow event planners to crowdsource the best questions from the audience are more and more used nowadays for such type of sessions.
Red Carpet Event
A grand and impressive event where invitees walk on a red carpet or runner laid out at the reception. Red carpet events are usually not opened for the general public but are by invitation- only. Typically they are VIP events that attract a lot of media attention and require a special dress-code (usually black-tie for the men and evening gowns for the women). Examples of red carpet events are: awards, film premieres, receptions, ceremonies and all glamorous gala events.
A meeting/conference featuring a group discussion of a subject where everybody has equal chance to express opinion. The discussion often takes place literally on a round or oval table since the objective is everybody to feel at an equal level. A roundtable usually gathers different stakeholders or parties of a particular subject in order to discuss an issue/problem from all point of views. A roundtable discussion usually aims tangible results such as: elaboration of a declaration, a proposal, a recommendation or a document or taking a decision for solving a problem, etc. A roundtable could be organized as a separate event or as a separate session in a conference. Examples: An International Roundtable Of Medical Experts On The Disease…; How To Attract Foreign Investments?-A Roundtable Session Of … Conference
An educational event where participants receive information on and training in a particular subject. “A popular source of academic, professional or technical instruction, seminars present information to diverse audiences. These tutorials may be private or public, series or single, commercial or informative, lecture- or dialogue-based. They are less formal than academic lectures, allowing audience members to interject opinions or discuss results.” – EventManagement.com. Seminars are traditionally ‘live’ events but online and hybrid forms are also pretty common in the last few years.
“Speed geeking is a participation process used to quickly view a number of presentations within a fixed period of time. Speed geeking gets its name from speed dating, since they both employ similar techniques.
All the presenters are arranged in a large circle along the edge of the room. The remaining members of the audience stand at the center of the room. Ideally there are about 6-7 audience members for each presenter. One person acts as the facilitator. Once proceedings start, the audience splits up into groups and each group goes to one of the presenters. Presenters have a short duration, usually 5 minutes, to give their presentation and answer questions. At the end of the five minutes, the facilitator rings a bell. At this point, each group moves over to the presenter to their right and the timer starts once more. The session ends when every group has attended all the presentations.” Wikipedia
An event honoring sports (most commonly with competitive nature) opened to the general public and having entertainment purposes. Typical examples are: competitions, tournaments, marathons, races, games, matches, contests etc. The Olympic games are one of the most ancient and emblematic example of a grand sports/sporting event.
A meeting or a series of meetings between leaders or high-level officials aiming at producing an action plan.
“A sustainable event conserves and restores resources, honors and supports those involved, adds value to the local economy, and educates participants about the benefits of sustainability.” Sustainable Communities online
Check out some ideas for organizing sustainable events here.
Team Building Event
An event organized by a company/organisation for its employees/team(s) with the clear objective to motivate the team members, enhance social relations among them and increase the overall performance of the team(s)/employees. This is achieved through different team building activities: exercises, games, collaborative tasks, competitions, etc. Team building events are ‘live’, outdoor or indoor events and are usually private corporate events.
“Massive, stage-set, and usually regular trade event at which a large number of manufacturers from a particular industry present their products and show their capabilities to distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and end-users.“ BusinessDictionary.com
“An exhibition for companies in a specific industry to showcase and demonstrate their new products and services. Generally trade shows are not open to the public and can only be attended by company representatives and members of the press. Also, an exhibition of businesses offering franchises and/or business opportunity packages for sale. Trade shows are usually sponsored by trade associations for specific industries.” Small Business Encyclopedia, Enterpreneur.com
“Organized activity, aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient’s performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.” Business Dictionary. There are different formats of trainings: masterclasses, workshops, coaching or tutouring events and so on. What is common between all these forms is that a trainer(s)/coach(es) transmit knowledge to a group of people aspiring to get it. Trainings could be organized by a company for its employees who need to improve in certain area or acquire new skills; or by any other organization (educational, NGO, etc.) and even by an individual. They could be ‘live’, virtual or hybrid events.
“An unconference, also called an Open Space conference, is a participant-driven meeting. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.
Typically at an unconference, the agenda is created by the attendees at the beginning of the meeting. Anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. Unconferences typically feature open discussions rather than having a single speaker at the front of the room giving a talk, although any format is permitted.” Wikipedia
Virtual events or online events are events that take place totally online through the aid of computer (tablet or a smartphone) and the Internet or in other words events whose attendees and/or participants meet through sharing a common virtual environment on the web, not an actual physical location.
A brief interactive training for a relatively small group of people that focuses especially on practical techniques and skills in a particular field. Participants work individually and/or in groups to solve actual tasks and to gain hands-on experience. Examples: a content marketing workshop, a do-it-yourself workshop, etc.
“Short for Web-based seminar, a webinar is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web using video conferencing software. A key feature of a Webinar is its interactive elements: the ability to give, receive and discuss information in real-time.” Webopedia
“The “World Café” is a structured conversational process intended to facilitate open and intimate discussion, and link ideas within a larger group to access the “collective intelligence” or collective wisdom in the room. Participants move between a series of tables where they continue the discussion in response to a set of questions, which are predetermined and focused on the specific goals of each World Café. A café ambience is created in order to facilitate conversation and represent a third place.” Wikipedia
Have we missed any event type? Please leave a comment below and we might include it in our glossary.