As part of our nonprofit’s educational mission the co-hosts of A Way with Words take part in public events across the country. Separately and together, they are adept public speakers who entertain, delight, inform, and inspire by bringing their witty erudition to any room.

Call (619) 567-9673 or email to ask Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett to motivate your attendees at your events.

For more information on what they can do for your organization:

A Testimonial

“Words Alive could not have chosen a more perfect team in Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett to emcee our 2011 Annual Authors ’ Luncheon. Held every year as the centerpiece event of our organization, the luncheon celebrates literacy, Words Alive’s role in the community, and its supporters. Few speakers have been able to connect their message to Words Alive’s audience in a more passionate, impactful way as Martha and Grant. We’re truly grateful for their participation – and are convinced that their participation played a significant role in making the event a major success!” —  Patrick Stewart, Executive Director, Words Alive literacy organization, San Diego, California

Putting Joy in Corporate Communications

Think Like an Improviser, Think Like a Lexicographer is a special event about improving corporate communications. It’s suitable for every company stakeholder who must communicate well, whether they’re in outward-facing or inward-facing positions, in marketing, human resources, customer service, press relations, or anywhere else.

  • Keynote (one hour): This program is designed to engage, inspire, and empower fellow writers with our unique perspective on writing and editing as co-hosts of a public radio show about words and how we use them. Our lively presentation includes audio clips from A Way with Words episodes that illustrate, in an entertaining and informative way, the challenge of choosing just the right word or phrase, and creative strategies for finding solutions to writing and editing problems. We’ll also talk about current trends in language, share our own inspiring stories about working with words, and leave at least plenty of time Q&A — and/or spirited debate, as the case may be.
  • Workshop (one hour): This energetic, interactive workshop will help writers look at language in new ways in order to encourage innovation. Grant draws on his work as a compiler and editor of dictionaries and thesauruses to lead the group in discussing the basic activity of word choice. He also teaches the lexicographer’s technique of ranking words by their shades of meaning to better train the writers’ unconscious writing habits. Martha, a longtime improv comedy performer, leads the group in improv exercises designed especially for writers. We’ll welcome another Q&A to address specific issues or questions the writers are grappling with in their day-to-day jobs.

Choose Your Own Event and Audience

Typical Events

  • Emceeing and hosting
  • Corporate events
  • Professional conferences
  • Panels (often as moderator)
  • Formal interviews (as interviewer)
  • Galas
  • Academic conferences
  • Auctions
  • Fundraisers
  • Workshops
  • Lectures
  • Commencement addresses
  • Charity dinners
  • Awards presentations
Typical Topics

  • Language change and new words
  • New slang
  • Language diversity
  • Workplace diversity
  • The value of mentorship
  • The reading life
  • Motivational stories
  • Taboo words
  • Word histories
  • Turning office writing into a pleasure
  • Anything-goes Q&A
  • Preparing yourself for the media
Typical Audiences

  • Your clients
  • Your donors
  • Corporate staff
  • Professional staff
  • Classrooms
  • College students
  • High school students
  • K-12 assemblies
  • Church groups
  • Business fraternities
  • Youth groups
  • General public


  • Wayword, Inc., the nonprofit on whose behalf Martha and Grant appear, is paid a fee for their public appearances.
  • Expenses, including accommodations, airfare, transportation, and other incidentals, are covered by the client organization.
  • Martha and Grant fly out of San Diego.