Public Speaking

To book an appearance: or (619)796-5455

Graduation address at National University's 2012 Commencement

Graduation address for National University’s 2012 Commencement

In addition to co-hosting A Way with Words, I speak to groups of all sizes — conferences, keynotes, luncheons, lectures, commencements, graduations, classrooms, and private gatherings. I also emcee galas, fundraisers, awards ceremonies, holiday gatherings, and celebrations, and can moderate your panel or interview an author or other celebrity guest for your event. See what happy clients have to say.


  • The Joy of Lex: Falling in Love with Language
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?  Workplace Diversity and the English LanguageThe St8 of English 2day? Gr8!: The English Language Is Healthier Than Ever
  • Buff Up Your Brain!: A Fun and Interactive Presentation on Maximizing Your Memory
  • You Say Pop, I Say Soda: A Talking Tour of Regional Dialects in America
  • A Garden of Words: How Flowers Got Their Names
  • Putting Words in Your Mouth: How Foods Got Their Names
  • Dog Days and Cats’ Pajamas: Animals In Words and Phrases
  • Libraries: Your Key to Lifelong Learning
  • Teachers Change Lives: Appreciating Our Educators

I’ll tailor my presentation to fit the needs of your organization. Or consider booking both my radio partner Grant Barrett and me.

Selected Upcoming Appearances

San Diego Unified School District. “Learning Through The Arts,” September 29, 2016.

Keynote speaker, California Association of Teachers of English (CATE), San Diego, February 16, 2018.

Selected Recent Appearances

San Miguel Writers Conference/Festival Internacional de Escritores en San Miguel. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. “Improv for Writers.” February 15, 2016.

Keynote: National Conference, Community College Humanities Association. Phoenix, AZ.  November 5, 2015.

Getting Over Writer's Block

“Unlock Your Creativity with Improv” workshop at the 2016 San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Majestic Theatre. Dallas, TX. “An Intimate Evening with Martha and Grant,” to benefit the Aberg Center for Literacy. April 23, 2015.

Tarrant County College. Fort Worth, TX. Lecture, “Civil Discourse in a Diverse Society.” April 24, 2015.

CareFusion Global Headquarters. San Diego, CA. “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” an interactive workshop on language and diversity in the workplace. June 5, 2014.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of California San Diego. “Buff Up Your Brain and Maximize Your Memory.” May 30, 2014.

San Diego Central Public Library, “A Way with Language.” May 17, 2014

MOXIE Theatre, San Diego. Dramatic reading (well, a tongue-in-cheek dramatic reading) as one of several celebrity guests as part of a fundraiser for this theater. March 22, 2014


Appearing in Dallas to benefit Aberg Center for Literacy

Emcee, national conference of the National Association for Bilingual Education, San Diego. February 13, 2014.

Emcee and Auctioneer. Buena Vista Audubon Society annual fundraiser, Oceanside, California. February 22, 2014.

 Sidestage Improv. “Cacchinate.” San Diego. February 23, 2014.

Interviewer/moderator. A conversation with bestselling author Alice Hoffman (Practical Magic, The Dovekeepers), for Words Alive! literacy organization. La Jolla, California. November 12, 2013.

Interviewer/moderator. A conversation with bestselling author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, onstage at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California. June 26, 2013.

“An Evening with Martha and Grant,” a sellout appearance to benefit the Aberg Center for Literacy. We also emceed a Jeopardy!-style quiz for local celebrities, including Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings. Dallas, Texas. May 16, 2013.

Panelist. “Restoring Respect,” Second Annual Conference on Civility in Public Dialogue, at the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego. February 20, 2013.

With Congressman Marty Block and San Diego Union-Tribune editor Jeff Light

Conference on Civility, University of San Diego

Celebrity designated speller alongside my radio partner Grant BarrettSan Diego Council on Literacy Adult Spelling Bee. Hall of Champions, San Diego. February 27, 2014.

Luncheon speaker. Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) Pacific-Western Division Conference, “Exploring Histories in the Humanities.” Portland, Oregon. October 26, 2012.

Interviewer/moderator.  Words Alive! annual Authors Luncheon and fundraiser for this San Diego literacy organization. An onstage conversation with New York Times bestselling author Vanessa Diffenbaugh about the language of flowers,  November 13, 2012.

Lecturer, with my co-host, Grant Barrett. “Three Centuries of American English,” in conjunction with the Behold America exhibit, San Diego Museum of Art. November 15, 2012.

Video: Keynote Speech, Women & Technology Conference, Ferrum College

Selected Past Speaking Events

Recent media appearances, and:

• Keynote speaker and workshop leader with my co-host Grant Barrett. Writers’ Forum, Intuit Corporate Headquarters. Mountain View, California. September 12, 2012.

• Keynote speaker, Diversity Summit, Sempra Energy, Downey, CA. July 12, 2012.

• Commencement Address, National University graduation ceremony, Sacramento Civic Center, Sacramento, California. April 22, 2012. More about the event here.

"Improv for Writers" workshop

“Improv for Writers” workshop

• Keynote Speaker, Women’s Leadership Conference, Ferrum College, Ferrum, Virginia. March 13, 2012 (See a recommendation from the College Provost. Watch the speech here.)

• Co-host of the Words Alive! Annual Authors’ Luncheon with my radio partner Grant Barrett. The benefit and fundraiser grossed more than $90,000. November 1, 2011. (See a recommendation from the Executive Director.)

• Courtside Announcer for the Mercury Insurance Open, a professional tennis tournament, at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California. July 30-31, 2011.

• Lecture, Congregation Beth Israel. “The Joy of Lex.” March 17, 2011.

• Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Emceed a collaboration among the Women’s Museum of California, the Women’s Studies Department at San Diego State University, The Women’s Center at the University of California San Diego, and the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women. March 12, 2011. (See a recommendation.)

• Sunday-morning Speaker, Chalice Unitarian Universalist Congregation, a church in Escondido, California. “Pursuing Your Passion.” February 20, 2011.

• Luncheon featured speaker, the Wednesday Club, the venerable women’s artistic and cultural organization founded in 1895. This a holiday-themed presentation was titled “Unwrapping the Gift of Words.” December 1, 2010.

• Luncheon featured speaker, Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, North County Chapter of San Dieguito. This organization philanthropic arm of the University raising money for scholarships as well as support of campus libraries. “Why I Love Libraries.” Morgan Run Club & Resort, Rancho Santa Fe, California. May 24, 2010.

• Lecture. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of California San Diego Extension. “The Joy of Lex.” April 13, 2010.

• Featured Speaker, La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary. December 4, 2009.

• Featured Speaker, Family Health Centers of San Diego Annual Luncheon. November 21, 2008. • Closing Keynote Speaker for the training conference of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR). Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. “Getting Your Words’ Worth: Improve Your Business Communication and Email Efficiency.” October 22, 2008. (See a recommendation from the organizer.)

• Writing seminar, Baker & McKenzie LLP. My talk to attorneys and paralegals at this law firm was called “Get Your Words’ Worth!”: Increase Your Word Power and Improve Your Email Efficiency.” San Diego, California. July 29, 2008. (See a recommendation from the organizer.)

National Association for Bilingual Education national conference

NABE national conference MC

• Emcee, Annual San Diego Book & Writing Awards. May 17, 2008

• Speaker, Marion County Public Library, “A Garden of Words.” Indianapolis, Indiana. April 13, 2008.

• Guest Host and Speaker with my radio partner Grant Barrett for “Alphabet Affair,” a fundraiser for the Indianapolis literacy organization, Indy Reads. Hyatt Regency, Indianapolis, Indiana. April 12, 2008.

• Awards presenter at the 31st Annual American Crossword Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. This is the big event organized by our friend NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. March 28, 2008.

• Emcee for fundraising gala with sports legends Maria Sharapova and Pam Shriver at the Acura Classic Tennis Tournament. This event raised $256,000 for the Scripps Polster Breast Care Center to support breast care prevention, treatment, and early detection. La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. August 2, 2007.