Speakers at Business Events: Inspiration or Intimidation?

Written by: Serena Fordham, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

When I started my business adventure eight years ago, I attended lots of business-related events to network and get my name out there. As with many new female small business owners starting out, I was desperate for some much-needed motivation and positivity to switch my self-doubts and negative mindset, so I was drawn to events with well-known speakers at the top of their game and profession.

One in particular sticks in my mind - an influential speaker at a large local networking and training event - Jo Fairley, Co-Founder of Green & Blacks organic chocolate brand. That evening Jo shared her story of how she founded the company and communicated the journey of how they developed, adapted and grew. What especially stood out for me was her warmth, confidence, and passion I saw radiate from her when talking about the company's fair ethos and morals.

I left that evening feeling truly inspired and empowered to achieve anything from my small seedling-of-a-business that I dreamed of. However, not all powerful and successful speakers leave us feeling this way. As I have progressed in business - especially through evolving a business focused on female networking, events and empowerment - I’ve come to the realization that some speakers at events are not always as inspirational as they are intended to be.

A call with one of our Superwoman members a few weeks ago started on this hot topic. She had attended the same online event as me, and the main speaker there was a woman with a well-known lifestyle business, who was well renowned and respected for her achievements and success of growing a 7 figure business empire (I suspect this is the reason why this particular event in the midst of Covid-19 lockdown was a sell-out, as many of us were getting pretty fed up of online meetings and events by then!)

But after her 30-minute speaking slot, I felt a mixture of emotions. Instead of being left inspired and empowered, with that little boost of “go-getting” motivation I usually receive after hearing a speakers’ speal - I was feeling drained, disappointed, and negative.

Why? You ask.

Well, in her talk, her success came across as arrogant, and as she told her story, there were weirdly no hurdles, barriers or down-points - just overconfident tooting of one's own trumpet! My whole outlook of this particular role model I had looked up to and put on a pedestal for years was now shattered. Above all, I just felt intimidated due to the constant mention of how much money her company makes, the property they own, and the staff they have.

It was all about the material stuff, rather than about who they help and support, which left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth - and this was confirmed by the member I spoke to a few weeks later. She confirmed that after the talk, she felt intimidated and "unable to achieve" due to the way this woman "talked down" to her audience.

This has encouraged my thinking of how events have changed in the last 5 years since I started HER Business Revolution

Back then, female small business owners seemed to want the highly successful speakers - with all the money, experience and power - to aspire to. However, now more commonly, it seems they are not so concerned about the speaker's success and stature, but rather the journey the speaker has been on, the insight they can share, and the problems they have overcome.

Event attendees being able to relate to a speaker and find common ground in their story seems to be the number one most important factor - one that makes for a real, strong, and deeper connection between the two parties.

As a result, the listener resonates with the speaker's words, and connects them with their own business journey, which fills them with the inspirational thoughts that they can achieve the same type of successes.

What do you think? We'd love to hear your experiences of speakers at events.

If you are interested in speaking at, or attending, any of our events to train, inspire and empower female small business owners, please get in touch through & follow me on Facebook

Read more from Serena!

Serena Fordham, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Serena is an expert Business Strategist, Growth/Development and Empowerment Mentor to Female Entrepreneurs, as well as a best-selling Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur and successful multiple Business Owner. Her main passion is offering business strategies, support and empowerment to ambitious and high vibe business women both locally and internationally – through HER Business Revolution at She is also known for her organization skills through owning Glow Virtual Assistants, and for her support of women and child-related charities (also founding two charitable initiatives – Mums Empowerment Movement and SociaBubble)



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