She told Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger that her children wouldn’t let her run for office and that being president is a “hard job” and “gruelling for a family”.
There was no mention of incumbent president Donald Trump, but she shared with the audience that “the last election in my country does not give me hope.”
The lawyer and writer went on to say that women had to “be confident” and that “we have a lot of work to do. We’re not there yet”.
In her eight years in the White House, Mrs Obama worked tirelessly to transform the role of first lady, becoming a role model and champion for women and girls across America and beyond.
Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Mrs Obama as she swept into the Edinburgh International Conference Centre ahead of the event held by The Hunter Foundation were left disappointed after discovering she had entered the building via the underground car park.
Paul Gordon, from Edinburgh, said: “Michelle is one of the nicer Americans to arrive on our soil recently. It’s great to see people turn out for such a good cause.”
Judy Murray, Mark Beaumont, Josh Littlejohn and Kirsty Wark were among the 900 guests.
Welsh comedian Rob Brydon was lined up to compere the evening and Scottish rockers Deacon Blue and British soul singer Beverley Knight, who arrived wearing a shocking pink frock, took to the stage for rousing performances. All of the entertainment acts donated their fees to charities of their choice.
Devin Scobie, founding director of Edinburgh-based Caledonian Public Affairs, donned his black tie attire ahead of the dinner.
He said: “Michelle Obama is quite easily one of the most inspiring women in the world. When Barack was in power she did so much for kids’ politically.”
Tickets for tables of ten went on sale from about £5,000 – with some tables paying more for a meet and greet with the charismatic wife of the 44th President of the United States.
Former president Barack Obama made his first trip to Scotland to speak at last year’s event which raised £670,000 for Scottish charities.