Famous American Public Speakers

Find out more about the greatest American Public Speakers, including Jordan Belfort, Aron Ralston, Rudy Giuliani, Lizzie Velásquez and Randy Pausch.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 9, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
The former stock broker, who was convicted for stock-market manipulation and cheating several investors, Jordan Belfort spent 22 months in prison before he was released and altered his way of living. Using his life experiences, he became a motivational speaker and also authored two memoirs, one of which, The Wolf of Wall Street, was adapted into an award winning film.

 2 Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard
Famous As: Boxer
Birthdate: May 17, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wilmington, North Carolina, United States

Sugar Ray Leonard is a former boxer and motivational speaker. Having won world titles in five different weight divisions during his boxing career, Leonard is widely considered one of the greatest boxers ever. Leonard was part of a group of boxers dubbed The Fabulous Four, which is credited with popularizing the lower weight classes in the post-Muhammad Ali era.

 3 Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 27, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Morristown, New Jersey, United States

Author and public speaker Fran Lebowitz is best known for her book The Fran Lebowitz Reader, which combined the two books Metropolitan Life and Social Studies. She also gained fame with her 2021 Netflix docuseries Pretend It's a City. Openly lesbian, she has often spoken about feminism, politics, and AIDS.

 4 Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Mike Farrell is an American actor known for playing, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, in the popular war comedy-drama TV series, M*A*S*H. Farrell's journey from being born into a working-class family to becoming a famous Hollywood actor is quite inspiring. Also a political and social activist, Farrell has worked on several activist campaigns. In 2001, he was honored with PETA's Humanitarian Award.

 5 Aron Ralston

Aron Ralston
Famous As: Outdoorsman, Motivational Speaker
Birthdate: October 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marion, Ohio, United States
Rock climber Aron Ralston survived a canyoneering accident during a solo adventure in Utah. He escaped after remaining stuck for 5 days, by cutting off his right arm. He later related his tale in the autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which inspired the movie 127 Hours.

 6 Donna Douglas

Donna Douglas
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pride, Louisiana, United States
Died: January 1, 2015
Donna Douglas is best known as Elly May Clampett from the sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. After retiring from acting, she juggled with a number of careers, becoming a real-estate agent, a motivational speaker, and a gospel singer. She has also written a Bible-themed children’s book and a cookbook.

 7 Lizzie Velásquez

Lizzie Velásquez
Famous As: Motivational Speaker
Birthdate: March 13, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, United States
Lizzie Velásquez is an American activist, author, motivational speaker, and YouTuber. Velásquez was subjected to bullying and cyberbullying due to Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome, a rare congenital disease, which prevents her from gaining weight. The hardship that she faced because of her condition inspired her to become a motivational speaker. Her story inspired the 2015 documentary film, A Brave Heart.
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 8 Rudy Ruettiger

Rudy Ruettiger
Famous As: Motivational speaker
Birthdate: August 22, 1948
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Joliet, Illinois, United States

Daniel Eugene Ruettiger, better known as Rudy Ruettiger, remains an icon of the football team of the University of Notre Dame. One of his parents’ 14 children, he suffered from dyslexia, before finding his calling in football. His life later inspired the film Rudy, with actor Sean Astin playing his role.

 9 Jonathan Lipnicki

Jonathan Lipnicki
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 22, 1990
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Westlake Village, California, USA

Jonathan Lipnicki soared to fame as a child actor, rubbing shoulders with top-notch stars in movies such as Jerry Maguire and Stuart Little. He has also been part of several hit series and the indie When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. He boasts of a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

 10 Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie
Famous As: Self-Help Writer, Motivational Guru, Public Speaker
Birthdate: November 24, 1888
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Maryville, Missouri, United States
Died: November 1, 1955
Writer and academic Dale Carnegie is best remembered for his work on courses in areas such as corporate training, self-improvement, and salesmanship. He started his career as a salesperson. He wrote many books, including the international bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, and was a successful lecturer, too.

 11 Brene Brown

Brene Brown
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: November 18, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, U.S.

Apart from being a University of Houston research professor, Brene Brown has also been a successful author of New York Times bestsellers such as Braving the Wilderness, and a podcast host. She also has a lecture featured on Netflix, while her Ted Talk is one of the world’s top-five most-viewed. 

 12 Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton
Famous As: Author, Activist, Public Speaker
Birthdate: March 20, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Burke, Virginia

The author of New York Times bestsellers such as Untamed and Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton was once described as the patron saint of female empowerment by People magazine. She is also an avid philanthropist, who heads the all-woman non-profit Together Rising, which caters to women and children.

 13 Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick
Famous As: Consultant
Birthdate: August 6, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, United States

First a convicted hacker and then a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick’s life is all about how ingenuity can be used negatively and positively. Currently a security consultant for top-notch companies and the FBI, the American also teaches government agencies on social engineering. His sentencing for wire fraud is controversial and often considered excessive by some quarters.

 14 Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey
Famous As: Radio host
Birthdate: September 3, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Antioch, Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Dave Ramsey is an American radio show host, personal finance advisor, businessman, and author. He is best known for hosting The Dave Ramsey Show. He is also famous for authoring many books, including The Total Money Makeover, which featured on the New York Times bestseller list. He is also credited with founding a financial counseling service called the Lampo Group.

 15 Lisa Whelchel

Lisa Whelchel
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Littlefield, Texas, United States

Best remembered as rich and spoiled Blair Warner on NBC sitcom, The Facts of Life, actress Lisa Whelchel is also a well-known singer and songwriter. She reached No. 17 on the Billboard Contemporary Christian music charts with her Christian pop album, All Because of You. Founder of Momtime Ministers and author of ten books, she is also known for her motivational speeches.

 16 Van Jones

Van Jones
Famous As: Motivational speaker
Birthdate: September 20, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Jackson, Tennessee Jackson, Tennessee, United States U.S.

Especially known for his honest and poignant commentaries, Van Jones is an award-winning political contributor, commentator, and the host of popular CNN programs like Van Jones Show and The Redemption Project. Also a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform for more than twenty-five years, he has founded number of non-profit organizations and authored several best-selling books.

 17 Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro
Famous As: Political Commentator, Public Speaker
Birthdate: January 15, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

A strong conservative political commentator, author, media host and lawyer, Ben Shapiro became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the US at the age of seventeen and at twenty published his first book. The host of a daily political podcast ,The Ben Shapiro Show, he has frequently invited criticism for his views on various issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.

 18 Kim Peek

Kim Peek
Famous As: Megasavant
Birthdate: November 11, 1951
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: December 19, 2009

Kim Peek was a savant who suffered from the rare genetic syndrome, FG syndrome. Often called a “megasavant,” he had an exceptional memory and appeared in many documentaries. He was the inspiration for the character of Raymond Babbitt in the film Rain Man. He was born with macrocephaly and damage to the cerebellum and experienced considerable social difficulties. 

 19 Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra
Famous As: Motivational Speaker, Writer
Birthdate: October 22, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Delhi

Deepak Chopra is an Indian-American alternative-medicine advocate and author. After emigrating to the United States in 1970, Chopra went on to become an important figure in the New Age movement. Credited with co-founding the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, Chopra is one of the wealthiest personalities in alternative medicine. He has also drawn criticisms, thanks to his tall and ridiculous claims.

 20 Steve Schmidt

Steve Schmidt
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 28, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: North Plainfield, New Jersey, United States

 21 Bristol Palin

Bristol Palin
Famous As: Public Speaker
Birthdate: October 18, 1990
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wasilla, Alaska, United States
Bristol Palin, the eldest daughter of Todd and Sarah Palin, is best known for her stint on the reality show Dancing with the Stars and her performance in the series The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She is also a real-estate agent and has written a memoir. 

 22 Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani
Famous As: Former Mayor of New York City
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: East Flatbush, New York, United States

American politician Rudy Giuliani, who served as the Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, received major attention and praise for his handling of crisis in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in his city. He was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in December 2001 for his efforts. However, there have also been allegations of corruption against him.

 23 Buck Angel

Buck Angel
Famous As: Adult Film Stars
Birthdate: June 5, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

 24 Frank Reich

Frank Reich
Famous As: Football Coach
Birthdate: December 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Freeport, New York, United States

Frank Reich is an American former football player who played as a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons. He is currently serving as the head coach for the popular NFL team, The Indianapolis Colts. Over the years, he has also been part of the coaching team for Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles.

 25 Richard Hatch

Richard Hatch
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 21, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States
Died: February 7, 2017

 26 Apolo Ohno

Apolo Ohno
Famous As: Short track speed skater
Birthdate: May 22, 1982
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington (state) Washington

 27 Kyle Carpenter

Kyle Carpenter
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: October 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

 28 Rodney Mullen

Rodney Mullen
Famous As: Skateboarder
Birthdate: August 17, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Gainesville, Florida, USA

 29 Mary Matalin

Mary Matalin
Famous As: Political Consultant
Birthdate: July 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago Illinois, U.S.

Mary Matalin is an American political consultant. Renowned for her work with the Republican Party, Matalin has worked with prominent personalities like Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney. Mary Matalin is also known for her work as an animal rights activist and was honored with PETA's Person of the Year award in December 2016.

 30 Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 6, 1926
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Coffee County, Alabama, United States
Died: November 28, 2012

 31 Esther Hicks

Esther Hicks
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 5, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Coalville, Utah, U.S.

 32 Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf
Famous As: Political writer
Birthdate: November 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, U.S.

 33 Dave Pelzer

Dave Pelzer
Famous As: Autobiographer
Birthdate: December 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Daly City, California, United States

Best known for his 1995 memoir, A Child Called "It", David James Pelzer is an American author of four autobiographical work and three self-help books. Raised by abusing parents until the age of twelve, he has described his childhood, adolescence and adulthood in the first three books. Also a motivational speaker, his message is all about triumph of human spirit.

 34 Les Brown

Les Brown
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liberty City, Miami, Florida, United States

 35 Marc Randolph

Marc Randolph
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: April 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chappaqua, New York, United States

 36 Victoria Arlen

Victoria Arlen
Famous As: Television personality
Birthdate: September 26, 1994
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Victoria Arlen is an American television personality currently working for ESPN. Apart from being a television personality, Arlen is also an actress, model, speaker, and former Paralympian swimmer. She is best known for overcoming two rare conditions that stripped her of her ability to walk, speak, eat, and move. In 2012, she participated in the Summer Paralympics, representing the USA.

 37 Jo Anne Worley

Jo Anne Worley
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 6, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lowell, Indiana, United States

 38 Greg Valentine

Greg Valentine
Famous As: Wrestlers
Birthdate: September 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA

 39 Chris Herren

Chris Herren
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: September 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fall River, Massachusetts, USA

 40 Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch
Famous As: Motivational Speaker, Educationist, Professor
Birthdate: October 23, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: July 25, 2008

 41 iO Tillett Wright

iO Tillett Wright
Famous As: Television host
Birthdate: September 2, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, New York (state) New York

iO Tillett Wright is an American photographer, author, activist, TV and podcast host. He is credited with founding the now-defunct international street art magazine Overspray for which he served as the editor-in-chief until 2009. His podcast The Ballad Of Billy Balls was counted among the best of 2019 and was considered for television development.

 42 Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla Vanzant
Famous As: Motivational speaker
Birthdate: September 13, 1953
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn

 43 Michael Porter

Michael Porter
Famous As: Economist, Researcher, Author, Advisor, Speaker and Teacher
Birthdate: May 23, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ann Arbor

 44 Kathy Garver

Kathy Garver
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 13, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, USA

 45 Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott
Famous As: Baseball Player
Birthdate: September 19, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, USA

 46 Ilyasah Shabazz

Ilyasah Shabazz
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Queens

 47 Larry Csonka

Larry Csonka
Famous As: American footballer
Birthdate: December 25, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stow, Ohio, USA

 48 Jayne Kennedy

Jayne Kennedy
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 27, 1951
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, USA

 49 Rob Bell

Rob Bell
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: August 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Michigan, United States

Former pastor and teacher Rob Bell has penned countless books, including the New York Times bestsellers Love Wins and What Is the Bible? He established the Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan in his late 20s. He has also made it to Time 100. He also hosts a podcast and is a sought-after speaker.

 50 James Arthur Ray

James Arthur Ray
Famous As: Motivational speaker, Actor
Birthdate: November 22, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Honolulu