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Lauren on stage at BrightonSEO

17 / 05 / 23

My journey from stage fright to rocking the mic at BrightonSEO


Lauren Henley

4 minute read

From my school reports 20 (or so) years ago to workplace progression reviews, there was always one common theme – self-confidence. If you’re the type of person who has often received praise that comes with a ‘but’, then this might resonate with you. 

I always did well at school and I’ve achieved plenty in my career so far, but the only person who ever seemed surprised at these achievements was me. When confidence in your work is an issue for you, the knocks live longer in your head than the praise. 

However, I had a big goal. This goal was to speak at BrightonSEO, one of the largest industry conferences. Unmotivated by climbing the corporate ladder, this goal was important to me for another reason. I was proud of my work and wanted to showcase it myself. We often hear that “some of the best marketers are the ones you’ve never heard of”, but why is that?

Imposter Syndrome in Digital PR (And How I Overcame It)

“Three in five workers experience imposter syndrome with women and younger people disproportionately more likely to have feelings of self-doubt.” Workplace Insight | Indeed Survey

Eleven years ago I started my formative years in marketing. As a young woman in a male-dominated industry, I can highlight specific moments along the way when my confidence took a battering. A lack of self-confidence was weaponised against me when I didn’t meet the same career milestones as my peers, but imagine what employees like me can achieve when they are supported.

“94% of those who have suffered from imposter syndrome haven’t discussed their feelings at work. Of those that are uncomfortable telling their manager their feelings of ‘frequent’ self-doubt, nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) fear they could be seen as a less capable employee.” Workplace Insight | Indeed Survey

Courage exists with a lack of confidence. People who struggle with self-confidence have taken risks, made mistakes and faced challenges daily when working in an agency. Finally finding my place in a genuinely supportive agency has helped me achieve those daunting goals. 

After a year of leading a successful team at JBH, I signed up as a mentor for the Women in Tech SEO mentorship program. Women in Tech SEO is a fantastic community founded by Areej AbuAli. The community was founded as an inclusive and judgement-free space for women in the industry, and being picked as a mentor solidified that my skills and experiences are valued. Mentoring talented young women with similar confidence struggles reminded me of where I began. 

I shared my goal to speak at BrightonSEO with my colleagues and why I felt I wouldn’t achieve it. My line manager Rebecca was a great mentor; we work closely together and she has previously talked at BrightonSEO. Our People and Culture Manager Rachael helped with training and development and Jane our CEO supported me with my talk. Instead of just telling me I should be more confident, they planned a path to help me feel ready to tackle it.

“I understand how difficult and scary it is for anyone to get on stage and therefore believe that as an emooyer JBH has a responsability to ensure that staff are given adiquite training and support to feel confident on taking themselves out of their comfort zones” – Jane Hunt

From this, I attended a Presenting course, where I met with other senior business leaders who found the idea of public speaking daunting. The things I learnt and experiences shared that day left me feeling like my goal was achievable. I came home and submitted my speaker pitch straight away. 

“JBH supported Laurens’s journey with learning and development. Working with the Total Excellence Centre we arranged a fully funded place on “Presenting With Impact” – a course to build Laurens’s knowledge and confidence. The course took place across two days and was highly interactive.” Rachael Rothwell

In addition to formal training, I was referred to our (award-winning) Employee Assistance Programme – Health Assured. Through this platform, I was able to access free counselling sessions and cognitive behavioural therapy by a qualified experienced therapist. Alongside this, I was able to access meditation guides and resources through the Health Assured app which helped me focus and prepare mentally.

“JBH provided all-around support not just by developing Lauren’s presenting skills but supporting her to overcome challenges and building her confidence. EAPs help employees deal with personal problems that might impact their work performance, health and well-being.” Rachael Rothwell

Lauren on stage speaking at BrightonSEO

When it came to actually speaking at BrightonSEO, I was genuinely excited and proud of myself for achieving a big goal. I loved the experience and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. The feeling of standing on a stage and presenting work that I am passionate about and immensely proud of wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my managers and the fantastic team at BrightonSEO.


From my own experiences and also through mentoring and managing people who have low self-confidence, I’ve seen the impact it can have. Managers who have struggled with this themselves might find it easier to empathise and break the cycle by supporting their staff with actions as well as words. By finding out what drives someone and what underpins their low self-confidence, you can help achieve their goals. 

If you’re someone with a big goal that you’re uneasy about tackling then remember that courage exists where confidence doesn’t. The right support will help you achieve your goals.
To download my slides from BrightonSEO, you can find them here (BrightonSEO are also looking for new speakers for their September ‘23 conference).

If you’re looking for a new opportunity in a supportive workplace then JBH are currently hiring.