As colleges and universities continue to search for innovative and engaging ways to captivate their audiences, college speakers, along with celebrity speakers, have become an increasingly popular choice.

From actors and musicians to entrepreneurs and activists, these speakers bring a unique blend of knowledge, insight, and inspiration to their presentations. With a range of backgrounds and experiences, they are sure to leave a lasting impact on college audiences.

So, whether you’re looking to bring star power to your campus, bring attention to a particular cause, or simply inspire your students, read on for our updated list for 2024. Get ready to be entertained, educated, and inspired!

For those interested in speakers who can inspire and motivate young audiences, check out our list of young motivational speakers.

Our Curated List of Speakers for Colleges

Here are our recommendations for your event. Like one? Click below to reach us.

1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Ke Huy Quan: Oscar-Winning Actor

Ke Huy Quan is a Vietnamese-American actor and stunt choreographer. After an almost 20-year hiatus from his last role, Quan returned to acting in 2021 in the critically acclaimed science fiction comedy-drama film Everything Everywhere All At Once. His performance garnered critical acclaim and won him many accolades, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Quan is one of two actors of Asian descent to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Originally, the world knew him as a child actor, appearing in beloved films such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as Short Round and The Goonies as Data.

1 2 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Steve Burns: Emmy-Nominated Actor & Host, Blues Clues

Steve Burns is an actor and television host best known as the original host of the long-running children’s preschool television program, Blue’s Clues. The series was rebooted as Blue’s Clues and You, with Burns serving as frequent writer, director, and producer. As a speaker, Burns refines and re-examines the message of empowerment and exceptionalism he delivered to a generation of children as they now struggle with the demands and realities of adulting.

2 2 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Lauren Ridloff: Actress & First Deaf Superhero on Marvel’s “The Eternals”

Lauren Ridloff began her meteoric rise as an actor just five years ago. Prior to that, she won the title of Miss Deaf America and was a kindergarten teacher in Manhattan for a decade. After leaving that job to take care of her two young children, she was hired in 2016 to tutor director Kenny Leon in American Sign Language as he readied the Broadway revival of Children of A Lesser God. After working together for months, Kenny and the producers concluded that Ridloff was the ideal and only choice for the lead. She pulled it off with resounding success, including multiple rave reviews from the New York Times and a Tony nomination. She soon became a series regular on the long-running AMC series, “The Walking Dead.” She then became the first Deaf superhero opposite Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani in Marvel’s worldwide hit, Eternals. Ridloff received a 2020 BAFTA Breakthrough award recognizing the most promising stars of film and television. She divides her time between Atlanta and Brooklyn.

3 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Metro Boomin: Producer & Go-To Collaborator for Rap Stars like Future, Wiz Khalifa and Migos

Metro Boomin has been one of the most in-demand producers in hip-hop since he was 19 years old. Working with the likes of Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Future, Migos, Young Thug, and more, there is nobody more trusted by the hip-hop elite. But it doesn’t stop there. Metro wants to share his story and message of his life beyond the beat. As CEO of his own label and creator of his own clothing line, Metro can speak with students about his rise as an entrepreneur.

4 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Daymond John: Founder & CEO of FUBU, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank

From humble beginnings to a self-made multimillionaire with over $6 billion to date in global product sales and a starring role on ABC’s business reality TV show, Shark Tank. As “The People’s Shark”, Daymond continues to set standards of excellence while expanding his interests in fashion, branding, marketing, consulting, entertainment, and beyond.

5 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Killer Mike: Rapper, Civic Leader & Activist

Killer Mike is a Grammy award-winning rapper and actor who is making waves in the political arena for his gripping commentary on ongoing social issues confronting America.

Speaker headshot template 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Laurie Hernandez: Keynote Speaker: Olympic Gold Medal Winning U.S. Gymnast & Winner of Season 23 of “Dancing With The Stars”

Since bringing home the Gold and Silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Laurie has gone on to win the coveted Mirror ball trophy on “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23 and has had two New York Times Best Sellers. She is a second generation American, as her grandparents are from Puerto Rico, making her the first U.S. born Latina to make the U.S. team since 1984. Laurie was also the gymnastics analyst for Peacock and the Olympic Channel for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Acting is one of her biggest passions and she has done cameos, voiceovers, and hosting. Laurie is currently attending New York University where she is a theater major.

7 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Brittany Broski: Influencer & Comedian

Brittany Broski took the internet by storm with her wit, charm, and of course, distaste for kombucha. Brittany’s rise to fame has truly captured the new influencer frontiers of TikTok, with nearly 8 million followers across her TikTok accounts, Brittany is currently one of the most viral people on the internet. Her social platforms continue to grow exponentially as more fans get hooked on her hilarious and relatable content.

8 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Hasan Piker: Political Commentator, Journalist, Activist & Producer

Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Hasan Piker is an American journalist, producer, activist, and political commentator, best known as the creator behind “The Breakdown” for The Young Turks on Facebook. “The Breakdown” showcases Hasan’s expertise in breaking down Republican propaganda, corruption, and hypocrisies of US politics. Hasan’s most viral segments have garnered 20+ million views with a strong age demographic of followers under the age of 30, positioning him as a voice of a generation. Hasan has worked with organizations such as Muslims For Progressive Values, March For Our Lives, Black Lives Matter. His activism is rooted in social and economic justice, LGBTQ+ rights, Muslim rights, intersectional feminism, gun control, pro-peace initiatives, and sustainable energy initiatives.

3 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Jennette Mccurdy: Director, Host of “Empty Inside” Podcast, Former Actress & Author of “I’m Glad My Mom Died”

Jennette McCurdy is an actress and bestselling author known for starring in two of Nickelodeon’s biggest shows, iCarly and the spinoff Sam & Cat. Jennette’s #1 New York Times bestselling memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, uses candor and dark humor to dive into her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother. She also created a comedic one-woman show, I’m Glad My Mom Died, which she wrote, directed, and starred in and had a sold-out run at Lyric Hyperion Theatre. Jennette is currently developing a feature film, which she wrote and will direct, and has recently closed a deal to write her debut fiction novel. Jennette has been honored as part of the 2022 TIME100 Next list, a compilation of emerging leaders from around the world who are shaping the future and defining the next generation of leadership. She has also been published in the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal and hosts a popular podcast, Empty Inside, where she speaks with guests about uncomfortable topics.

10 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Kyle Gordon: Comedian, Actor, Writer & Improviser

Kyle is a New York based comedian, actor, writer and improviser. He has recently emerged as one of the most popular comedians on Social Media, with over 3 million followers and almost a billion views across Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. When not creating comedy online, he can also be found performing to sold out crowds across the country. In addition to regular shows around his home of New York City, in Spring 2022 he completed a multi city, major market solo headlining tour. His work has been featured on Comedy Central and Adult Swim, as well as Fast Company, Insider, Buzzfeed, Sports Illustrated, Time Out New York and many more. He has been a featured performer at New York Comedy Festival, Red Clay Comedy Festival, Boston Comedy Arts Festival, New York Comic-Con and San Francisco Sketchfest. He has fun every day.

11 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Megan Rapinoe: Two-time World Cup Champion and co-captain of the US Women’s National Soccer Team

Two-time World Cup Champion and co-captain of the US Women’s National Soccer Team, Megan Rapinoe is a fan favorite and one of the team’s most technical players. A vocal leader on and off the pitch, Megan helped lead the USWNT to the 2019 Women’s World Cup Championship scoring some of the biggest goals of the tournament. Megan took home the tournament’s two top honors – the Golden Boot for top scorer, and the Golden Ball for the best player in the tournament. Megan is an advocate for equality for all, and has been able to intersect her passion for humanity and authenticity.

12 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Please Don’t Destroy: Comedy Trio

Please Don’t Destroy is a New York-based comedy trio consisting of Ben Marshall, John Higgins, and Martin Herlihy. They are currently writing and making videos for Saturday Night Live. Please Don’t Destroy has performed their live sketch shows at festivals and colleges across the country.

13 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Meg Stalter: Actress, Comedian & Writer

Originally from the Chicago comedy scene, Megan has been called “an oasis of invigorating silliness in feeds dominated by wearying tragedy” by The New York Times and “a soothing comedy balm for a scathing grease fire of a year” by Harper’s Bazaar. Her breakout role is in the HBO Max series Hacks. Megan was listed by both Vulture and Variety as a “2020 Comic to Watch.” Her satirical, often surrealist work has been described as ‘essential escapist comedy,’ and The New York Times’ Jason Zinoman described her as ‘the most vital voice to emerge during this anxious, isolating moment.’ Meg can next be seen as the lead in Hannah Pearl Utt’s indie feature Cora Bora, and a guest star on Peacock’s Queer As Folk.

14 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Sarah Sherman: Comedian, Actress & Screenwriter 

Sarah Sherman aka Sarah Squirm is currently a featured player on Saturday Night Live. Outside of the show, she is known for her unconventional and popular live show, Helltrap Nightmare. She was chosen to be a New Face at the 2021 Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Sarah opened for Eric Andre’s national tour and wrote on The Eric Andre Show. She staffed on the Adult Swim series Three Busy Debras and Netflix’s Magic for Humans. She was previously named one of Vulture’s Comics to Watch for 2018 and one of TIME OUT Magazine’s Five Comics to Watch for 2017. Sarah recently wrote, directed, and starred in Sarah Vaccine, a short that Paper Mag described as a “maniacal, gross-out and overwhelming response to [our] lockdown hell.”

15 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

James Austin Johnson: Comedian & Actor on ‘Saturday Night Live’

James Austin Johnson is an American comedian and actor originally from Nashville, Tennessee. He has garnered attention for his impression of former President Donald Trump, sometimes being referred to as “the best Trump impersonator.” In addition to the films like Blue Like Jazz and Hail, Caesar!, Johnson has appeared in the television series “Adam Ruins Everything,” “Better Call Saul,” and “All Rise.” He has also filmed a DirecTV television ad with National Football League veteran Peyton Manning. In 2021, Johnson was cast as a featured player on “Saturday Night Live,” alongside fellow newcomers ARistotle Athari and Sarah Sherman, for its forty-seventh season. During the season premiere cold open, he portrayed President Joe Biden.

Robert ballard top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Dr. Robert Ballard: President, Ocean Exploration Trust & Deep-Sea ExplorerMaking discoveries that have captured the imagination of the public, Dr. Robert Ballard is best known for his 1985 discovery of the TITANIC. He has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the German battleship BISMARCK, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier YORKTOWN (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway) and John F. Kennedy’s boat, PT-109.

1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Michio Kaku: Renowned Physicist, Co-Founder of String TheoryDr. Michio Kaku is an internationally recognized authority on theoretical physics and the environment and is co-founder of String Field Theory. Dr. Kaku’s engaging speaking style makes him one of the world’s foremost STEM advocates and science popularizers.

2 1 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Ken Burns: Award Winning Documentary FilmmakerKen Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made.

3 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Bob Woodward: Legendary Pulitzer Prize-Winning Investigative Journalist; Associate Editor, The Washington Post; and Author, 21 BestsellersBob Woodward gained international attention when he and Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1973. Since then, he’s worked to shine a light on the inner-workings of secret government. Woodward’s factual, non-partisan revelations to readers and speech audiences provide a view of Washington they’ll never get elsewhere. Woodward has written about the last nine U.S. presidents and chronicled how the power of the presidency has evolved. He is author of 20 bestselling books – 14 went to #1 – more than any contemporary nonfiction writer.

4 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Angela Davis: Legendary Human Rights ActivistAngela Davis is internationally known for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. Her work as an educator has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender equality.

5 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Gene Demby: Co-host/Correspondent, Code SwitchGene Demby is a founding member of NPR’s race, ethnicity and culture team, Code Switch. He serves as the blog’s “host,” starting and moderating conversations across an array of platforms. Before NPR, he served as the managing editor for Huffington Post’s BlackVoices following its launch. He later covered politics. Prior to that role he spent six years in various positions at The New York Times. While at NYT, he started a blog about race, culture, politics and media called PostBourgie in 2007.

6 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Shereen Meraji: Host/Correspondent, Code SwitchShereen Marisol Meraji is an award-winning journalist and the co-host and senior producer of NPR’s Code Switch podcast about race, identity and culture. Code Switch is the only podcast about race that’s talking about all of us: our histories, how we’re represented, the ways we work together and against each other.

7 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

April Ryan: White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, Author of The Presidency in Black and White and Under FireWhite House Correspondent April Ryan has a unique vantage point as the only black female reporter covering urban issues from the White House – a position she has held since the Clinton era.

8 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Michael Eric Dyson: Public Intellectual & Best-Selling AuthorNamed one of the 150 most powerful African Americans by Ebony magazine, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, an American Book Award recipient and two-time NAACP Image Award winner, “is reshaping what it means to be a public intellectual by becoming the most visible black academic of his time.

9 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Charles Best: Crowdfunding & Social Impact Keynote Speaker, Founder of DonorsChooseCharles Best is the pioneer of crowdfunding and the founder of DonorsChoose, a nonprofit organization that has inspired 5 million people to give $1.3 billion to fund 2 million classroom requests created by public school teachers.  Charles launched DonorsChoose in 2000 at a Bronx high school where he taught history, and while the organization was still operating out of his classroom, it got a boost from Oprah Winfrey, who declared DonorsChoose one of her “ultimate favorite things.” To date, teachers at 85% of all U.S. public schools have created classroom requests on the site, and DonorsChoose has become an increasing force for equity in American education.

10 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Donna Brazile: Veteran Democratic Political StrategistAlways candid and insightful, Donna Brazile brings a refreshing perspective and practical sensibility to the discussion of today’s political headlines.

11 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Maria Ressa: CEO of Rappler, Journalist, Author, Freedom Advocate & 2021 Nobel Peace Prize WinnerMaria Ressa is the co-founder, CEO, and executive editor of, an online news organization in the Philippines. Maria, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been honored around the world for her courageous and bold work in fighting disinformation, “fake news,” and attempts to silence the free press. Maria advises organizations and corporations on corporate governance, values, and strategy. Her experience as a journalist and an entrepreneur in the digital world makes her a sought-after keynote speaker and panelist.

12 top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Mikki Kendall: Writer, Diversity Consultant & Feminist

Mikki Kendall is a writer, diversity consultant, and occasional feminist who talks a lot about intersectionality, policing, gender, sexual assault, and other current events. She has discussed race, feminism, education, food politics, police violence, tech, and pop culture at institutions and universities across the country.


At Gotham Artists, we find top notch talent and ensure your event is seamless and successful. Tap below for pricing and availability of your perfect speaker.

How to Choose the Right Speaker for Your University Event

An informative visual guide illustrating the process of selecting the perfect celebrity or sports speaker for an event.
Top speakers for colleges (2024 updated list)

Understanding Event Objectives

The first step in selecting a speaker is to ensure their expertise and public persona align with the event’s theme and objectives. For example, a health and wellness event might benefit from a sports personality known for promoting fitness, while a business seminar might seek a successful entrepreneur.

Consider as well the speaker’s unique message and presentation style. Some are known for their inspirational stories, others for their humorous approach, and some for their insightful industry-specific knowledge.

If you’re planning an event for a school and need engaging speakers, explore our recommended speakers for schools.

Tip From Our Team:
“Promote post-event. Share highlights and key takeaways from the event and speakers on social media and your website to extend the event’s impact.”

Gotham artists team image, representing the handful of employees who review and offer their unique perspective from being in the keynote speaker industry.


Considering Audience Demographics

The speaker should resonate with the age, interests, and background of the expected audience. A younger demographic might be more engaged by a pop culture icon, whereas a more mature audience might prefer an experienced industry leader. It’s also essential to consider the cultural and social relevance of the speaker to the audience. The speaker should embody values and experiences that the audience can relate to and respect.

Budget Considerations

Speaker Fees

Fees for speakers speaking on campus can vary significantly. High-profile speakers often command substantial fees, while up-and-coming or less-recognized personalities may be more budget-friendly.

Additional Costs

Beyond the speaker rate, consider additional costs such as travel, accommodation, and any special requirements the speaker might have, especially if you’re looking to book a top sports keynote speaker.

Availability and Accessibility

Popular speakers often have busy schedules, so it’s crucial to check their availability early in the event planning process. Determine whether the speaker will be attending in person or virtually. Virtual appearances can sometimes be more flexible and cost-effective.

Assessing Credibility and Experience

Look into the speaker’s past speaking engagements to gauge their experience and audience reception. Testimonials and reviews can provide insights into their performance and reliability. Ensure the speaker has credible expertise and accomplishments in the area they will be discussing. Authenticity is key to delivering a powerful and engaging speech.

Contracts and Agreements

Secure a formal agreement or contract outlining the terms of the engagement, including expectations, deliverables, and cancellation policies.

Ethical Alignment

Ensure that the speaker’s values and past actions align with the ethical standards of your organization and audience to avoid potential controversies.

Hassle-Free Way to Get Speakers for Your Event

With Gotham Artists, the process of hiring celebrity speakers for colleges becomes significantly easier and more streamlined.

Our dedicated team ensures a seamless transaction experience, allowing you to focus on creating memorable events.

Contact us today to book top-tier speakers for your next event!


How do I select the right speakers for our college event?

Selecting the right celebrity speaker involves considering the alignment between the speaker’s values, public image, and your event’s mission. Research their past speaking engagements, background, and overall popularity to ensure they can draw the desired attention and resonate with your audience. Additionally, consider the demographic of your audience and choose a speaker who appeals to that group.

What are the costs associated with booking these speakers?

The costs can vary widely depending on the speaker’s fame, demand, and the nature of your event. Fees can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. It’s also important to account for additional expenses such as travel, accommodation, and any special requirements the speaker might have. Negotiating the speaker’s fee or seeking sponsorship can help manage these costs.


At Gotham Artists, we find top notch talent and ensure your event is seamless and successful. Tap below for pricing and availability of your perfect speaker.

This content is categorized as “Human Written / Editorial Reviewed” per our Transparent Content Policy.
Article last updated on May 31st, 2024.