Symposium – A Quick Overview
A symposium is basically defined as a form of organized meeting wherein experts in a specific field meet, present their papers, and discuss trends and issues or make recommendations for a particular course of action. There are some definitions of the world symposium which include a degree of participation from the audience which is less than that of forums, which implies a greater structure to the format of the meeting.
Symposiums also have implied academic aspect which set them apart from seminars. Following the symposium, attendees must have gained a higher degree of knowledge regarding a topic or a deeper understanding of a problem. They may have learned completely new concepts on an existing subject or introduced to something totally new.
Usually the first step to organize a symposium is to issue a call for papers regarding the subject concerned. The process is often accomplished with trade publications and their respective sites, together with relevant platforms in social media. Then, the organizing committee will choose presenters according to their submissions. This call for papers must be completed way ahead of the scheduled date of the symposium.
In the event that a call for papers wasn’t used, the symposium’s organizers may pre-choose the panels and ask everyone to prepare papers regarding the subject. The planners must pick a diverse group that would unlikely repeat similar concepts, preferably reflecting varied disciplines in a similar field. A good example is an energy symposium which features experts on electric, coal, nuclear, renewable, and petroleum sources.
A symposium can take on various formats determined according to the subject matter, number of presenters, travel, time for questions, and of course, budget. But, a standard format will follow this order.
- Welcome remarks as delivered by the symposium’s organizers and hosts.
- Introduction of moderator for the symposium that will then introduce the event’s keynote speaker and panelists, raise questions, and facilitate the discussion.
- The keynote speaker who is going to deliver remarks on the symposium’s overall theme. Typically, the keynote speech is presented prior to the panel discussion or after or during a luncheon.
- During panel discussion, the moderator will introduce every presented with a short biography. The speaker has a few minutes to discuss the topic and may offer an overview plus professional or personal perspective. When the individual presentations are finished, the moderator will guide a roundtable discussion among the panelists, usually with pre-chosen questions which have been sent to panelists ahead of time.
- The symposium will conclude with the question and answer period. The hosts will take microphones to the audience. For more structured environment, the questions could be submitted written and read by the moderator.
Aside from publishing all the papers that the panelists have submitted, a symposium might also publish a complete review of all the opinions as well as any conclusions that were taken from the discussions. The less formal review usually takes the form of Notes from the Symposium article online or in relevant trade journals.