Talks That Inspire

As a speaker, I’ve addressed groups of all sizes on topics from literacy and literature to leadership and purpose. But whether I’m speaking to 20 or 2,000, my goal is the same. To engage my audience with information and strategies that will impact their lives—and equip them to impact the world. See my current speaking topics below, or fill out the booking form to discuss a custom presentation.

Maya’s Speaking Topics

Ready to learn more? Download my speaking brochure for more details and workshop options.

Download Speaking Brochure


If we are to attain the consciousness, solidarity, and equity our society so desperately needs, we must be informed and deliberate in raising a nation of readers. From big-picture research to everyday tips, I share how parents, teachers, and community members can nurture literacy.

How to Give Your Child a Smart Start

How to Engage Parents in Student Success from Day One

Why America’s Reading Crisis Is Your Problem and What to Do About It

Leading with Purpose

I also speak to diverse audiences about leadership, success, and giving back.

What’s Your Story: How to Leverage Storytelling in Leadership

Do Your Habits Match Your Expectations: How to Dream Big and Start Small

The Power of One: Strategic Philanthropy and Service for Women

Game Changers: How Women Build the Courage to Lead

Book Maya for your next event

Are you ready to make an impact in your community? Let’s get started!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Maya presented a wonderful family literacy workshop for a diverse audience of caregivers, reading champions, and librarians in our community. Attendees loved the way she presented rigorous reading research in a warm, encouraging style that made insights immediately useful. Her ability to weave in personal stories from her own parenting journey made the presentation even more moving and memorable. I highly recommend her workshops for both parents or professionals looking for a better understanding of how we can nurture, teach, and encourage young readers.”

Jenny Bogoni, Executive Director, Read by 4th, The Free Library of Philadelphia

“Early literacy remains a hot topic among libraries that want to better inform patrons who have very young children and Maya’s speech was right on target. She engaged our audience of small and rural library professionals by sharing her personal experience of raising a reader and offering deeply researched yet practical advice for how libraries can support the literacy needs of the families we serve. A long line of attendees queued up for the book signing after the speech, and in post-event evaluations, several attendees listed Maya’s keynote presentation as their favorite experience in the conference. That’s a big deal because we weren’t asking only about main stage events. The keynote was so well received that we’re hoping to bring Maya back for a webinar to dig even deeper into the topic.”

Kate Laughlin, Executive Director, Association for Rural & Small Libraries

We featured Maya and her book, Reading for Our Lives, in a live webinar for parent educators, librarians, speech therapists, and home visitors. She shared wonderful insights that were really tailored to their interests and needs, and it was so amazing to watch the audience come along with real-time realizations in the chat. I loved, loved, loved watching them connect the dots between language and literacy and being so engaged and excited by the information! She was prepared and present. I would highly recommend Maya for presentations to parents and the professionals who support them.

Mindy Ricketts, Head of Marketing and Content, LENA Foundation

We invited Maya to speak at our first post-pandemic live event and she delivered an excellent, customized message that resonated with our audience and won a standing ovation. I love how she researched our mission, history, and impact and weaved familiar United Way quotes, themes, and ideas into her presentation. Plus, she’s a pleasure to work with behind the scenes and inspires with her work and her words.

Dan Herda, Director of Communications at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Maya Payne Smart offers a living example of how to make books and stories a joyful part of children’s lives as well as a vehicle to lift communities. Whether through her engaging blog series, her community leadership roles, or as an author, she has a track record of using practical ideas to inspire people and connect them.

Meg Medina, Newbery Medal-winning author of Merci Suarez Changes Gears

“Hearing Maya’s own stories and lived experiences in person really solidified our work as a non-profit learning center. We wholeheartedly support Maya’s research in exposing children to language from the time they are born to promote early childhood literacy. Her approach to literacy is thoughtful and sincere. We had an audience of teachers, district-level faculty, and parents. They listened intently to her information, enjoyed her personality and sense of humor, then lined up after Maya spoke to get their books signed!”

Connie & Audrey, Gateway Instructional Services, Santa Barbara, CA

“Maya’s book talk for the Parents League of New York was wonderful! Sharing an excerpt from Reading for Our Lives, Maya provided families with six practical tools for nurturing their childrens’ reading success. Relatable, warm and generous of spirit, Maya imparted helpful frameworks for building kids’ oral language skills and navigating developmental milestones. Our families were engaged, excited and appreciated her actionable advice, making Maya Smart, a speaker not to be missed!”

Barbara Scott, Executive Director, Parents League of New York

“Maya gave a fantastic presentation for a coffee and conversation event celebrating the launch of our K3 program. She engaged the audience with pertinent remarks about the importance of early literacy and is an ideal speaker to inspire and equip parents to raise their young readers.”

Robb Rauh, CEO, Milwaukee College Prep School

“Maya Smart hosted a family literacy event at our school. It was great to see the parents and the children together learning about early literacy. The families left with practical ways they can support the early literacy development of their children. Through her talk she empowered parents to be advocates and teachers for their children. She wove personal stories as a mom into her presentation making parents feel comfortable asking questions! We look forward to bringing Maya back for future events!”

Courtney Albright, Senior Director of Curriculum & Instructional Effectiveness, Seton Catholic Schools

“BCDI-Milwaukee, an affiliate of The National Black Child Development Institute, was delighted to spend an evening with author Maya Smart as she shared tips and tools from her book “Reading for Our Lives.” Parents were able to engage with Maya on a personal level as they are their children’s first teachers and want to ensure their success. We would encourage parents, child care programs, and schools to engage with Maya as they work to improve academic outcomes for our children. We were definitely encouraged!”

Wanda Montgomery, BCDI board member

“The conversation and instruction from Maya’s Lunch and Learn were deeply enriching, insightful, and full of practical takeaways. I received great feedback from participants who had so many great reflections.”

Lindsay Berg, People Partner, Literati

  • Association for Rural & Small Libraries
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Gateway Educational Services – Santa Barbara
  • King County Library System
  • LENA
  • Learn to Earn Dayton
  • Milwaukee Public Schools
  • National Black Child Development Center – Wisconsin
  • Parents League of New York
  • Planet Word Museum
  • Read by 4th – Philadelphia
  • Richmond Public Library