Put in the work. That’s the rule that award-winning coach, speaker, and human resources consultant Melva Tate lives by. And that’s the rule that motivated me to attend one of her talks Tuesday evening, despite the fact that I was exhausted and wanted to sit on the sofa and watch Netflix. And I am SO glad I did!

Melva spoke at an event hosted by the I Am Woman Network and in her presentation offered advice on how to build your platform as a speaker. If you want to be a speaker, Melva is definitely someone you should listen to. She does several speaking engagements a week, most of which she gets paid thousands of dollars to do!

Here are Melva’s top 10 tips for building your speaker platform.

10. Know thyself. It’s so tempting to try every new thing that you see everyone around you doing. And we’re often saying we want to be the next Oprah or the next J.K. Rowling or the next Brene Brown. But let’s just be our best selves. Stop trying to like everybody else, Melva urged. Blaze your own path.

9. Invest in yourself. You won’t pay for a coach, but you’ll buy a Coach bag, Melva said, stepping on toes the way only she can. I wanted to jump up and give her an amen. So often I get emails from women who want me to help them launch a writing career but want me to do so FOR FREE. They’re not willing to invest in my EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE coaching program or even my membership program, which costs less than 20 bucks a month, but they have a closet full of designer brands. I can attest to the importance of investing in yourself. When I started working with coaches and spending money on paid courses I was finally able to transform See Jane Write from a hobby into a real business.

8. Build your brand. You have to do something to stand out. Melva believes blogging is a good way to do that. It’s also important to have marketing materials that you can leave behind when you do speaking engagements. She suggested starting with a postcard that audience members can take notes on and then later adding branded pens, too. Also, look the part, even if that means buying just one good outfit that’s reserved for your speaking engagements.

7.Just put in the work. Do the things that need to be done so people will take you seriously as a speaker. For example, hire a graphic designer to help you create a speaker sheet, a one-page, aesthetically-pleasing document that tells people who you are, what kind of speaking you do and where you’ve spoken in the past.

6. Practice makes perfect. You need a signature talk. And once you have that signature talk practice, practice, practice. That’s the key to becoming more confident in front of crowds.

5. Pay it forward. Be willing to start small. Melva says that when she started out she was only getting paid around $200 for speaking engagements. Now she gets paid thousands of dollars for just an hour of her time. But she still does two fee-waived opportunities per month to give back and to make connections with people who eventually become paying clients.

4. Develop a process. Melva has a prepared speaker proposal and presentation agreement ready to send to any corporation or organization that contacts her about speaking to their employees or members. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready!

3. Cast a wide net. Melva is in a position where she never has to solicit speaking opportunities; the opportunities come to her. But you’re not Melva and neither and I. So if we want to book more speaking engagements we need to reach out to corporations, schools, associations, conferences, retreats, churches and niche groups.

2. Stay in your lane. If speaking solo in front of a large crowd just isn’t your jam try hosting a webinar or perhaps join forces with some members of your tribe and organize a panel discussion.

1. Just do it. Do the speaking engagements. Ask for feedback. Use that feedback to get better.

Melva also offered us a bonus tip, which was to get a team to support us on this journey. This doesn’t have to be a group of people that you hire but could be someone who helps you out at speaking engagements in exchange for mentoring. Or it could just be a tribe of women who have your back.

If you are looking for a tribe of women to support you as you build your speaker platform, consider joining the See Jane Write Members Collective. See Jane Write isn’t just for women writing books or blogs, but can help you with writing speeches, too. See Jane Write members get access to content and training sessions that will help you prepare a presentation and pitch for speaking opportunities.  Enrollment for See Jane Write membership will be reopening soon. To join our VIP list and be notified first when enrollment reopens, simply fill out the membership application here.