Public Speaking

To book me for a speaking engagement, or to discuss rates and dates, email or call (646) 286-2260. Be sure to read about my recent speaking engagements and event-organizer testimonials.

I love the energy and enthusiasm I get back from audiences all over the country. Using what I know about writing, slang, new words, dialects, media, dictionaries, public radio, the history of language, and more, I’ve given speeches to journalists in New York City, to literacy campaign supporters in Indianapolis, to public media fundraisers in La Jolla, to librarians in the countryside of Vermont, to dictionary editors in Chicago, and to many other gatherings.

Each time, it’s a chance to meet some of the hundreds of thousands of listeners from across the country who listen to my radio show, A Way with Words, on their local NPR station: to hear their stories, to learn from them, and then to give them my best ideas in return. And, of course, it’s a chance to have some laughs and make new friends.

As keynote speaker, event host, master of ceremonies, and workshop facilitator, I speak at public and private events to groups of all sizes and professions. I’m also happy to be an event-planner’s last-minute fill-in speaker when someone else simply cannot go on but the show simply must. That’s me: a one-man speakers’ bureau on short notice. Emergency speeches to the rescue!

My presentations are upbeat and irreverent and interwoven with surprising tidbits and useful takeaways, often on the topics below. Of course, if you’ve got something special in mind, we’ll work together to make sure you’re happy and I tailor my comments and stories to suit audiences and situations. I also enjoy Q&A sessions β€” even when we don’t plan them, they often spring up, anyway. Curiosity will out!

I sometimes appear alongside my lovely and brainy radio co-host Martha Barnette, so if you’d like to double your fun, just ask us!

You can get photos of me here to use in your publicity materials, programs, schedules, website, etc. My current bio is always the one linked from the top of the site.

Some Favorite Topics

  • Slang Has Been Handed a Bum Rap and I’m Here to Bail it Out: a lively defense of slang as an important part of English.
  • Teen Slang: It’s Awesome
  • Bringing Joy Back to Corporate Communications: How to bring the joy of writing creatively into any workplace.
  • What’s New in English?: The new words of the last 12 months, plus a look at what else is happening in the way we speak.
  • Slang for Fiction-Writers: How to get slang β€” even historical slang β€” right in fiction.
  • Taboo Language: Where it comes from, where it’s going, and why we need it.
  • The American Language: A weird history about why Americans can sound so different from each other and the rest of the English-speaking world.
  • Changing the Public Conversation About Language: There’s more to it than peeving.
  • The Enduring Value of Books: Why we’re reading more, why we’re smarter than ever, and why reading is thriving in the digital era.
  • Rescued by Books: My personal story.
  • Teaching The Young to be Amazing Writers: Three easy steps turn bored kids into lifelong learners.
  • Media Savviness: what you need to know to be ready to deal with the media, even if it’s not your job.