Classes in  Detail: Public Speaking
Public Speaking
Class Description:
This course is designed to assist students in developing public speaking skills. Students are trained in analysing the specific situation including the audience, the speech objectives, the specific setting and possible elements of noise and inhibition; finding and evaluating appropriate content and expressions; organising their speech; wording their speech effectively and vividly; preparing their manuscript; developing their delivery skills; and analysing other students’ speeches critically and carefully. To achieve these aims the course will consist in a mixture of practical training and short introductions to key elements of rhetorical theory that help the students to improve their speaking skills most effectively. To enable optimal results special consideration will be given to an atmosphere of mutual respect and critical scrutiny. Feedback by the students to the students during class is welcome and will be a central element of training and improvement.

In this course students will develop their public speaking skills and learn key concepts of rhetorical theory that will help them achieve this goal. During this course participants will: 
  • Gain an understanding for the basic kinds of rhetorical situations and appropriate kinds of speeches 
  • Improve your ability to analyse a given setting before and during you speech with an special emphasis on the audience and opposing views or contributions 
  • Learn to effectively organise your speech and to find appropriate arguments 
  • Sharpen your understanding of the structure of arguments and their specific weaknesses 
  • Train vivid delivery skills that help you to communicate clearly, persuasively and effectively and gain security in rhetorical situations 
After trying a number of different public speaking textbooks (Lucas, Beebe&Beebe, Hamblin) and seeing that neither of them was particularly well received by my students I decided to teach the class without a dedicated textbook and instead provide a set of concise handouts with key elements of rhetorical background, that mostly stem from my work on two popular German books on rhetorical training, the Trainingsbuch Rhetorik and Schlüsselkompetenz Argumentation. Additionally I suggest all students who are interested in some more background to read Dale Carnegie's timeless The Art of Public Speaking, which is available in numerous free electronic versions and as a well produced audiobook. 

Sample Syllabus:  Download (pdf)

Student evaluations of this class: 
(all scores out of 5.0 maximum)

4.7 (overall average)

5.0 / 3.9 (Spring 2012) 
4.3 (Fall 2011)
5.0 / 4.9 / 4.8 (Spring 2011)
4.7 (Fall 2010)
4.8 (Summer 2010)
4.8 / 4.6 (Spring 2010)
5.0 / 4.7 (Fall 2009)
4.9 (Summer 2009)
5.0 / 4.9 (Spring 2009)
4.8 / 3.8 / 4.5 (Fall 2008)

Selected student comments:
  • Spring 2012: "Professor Hoppmann is very passionate about rhetoric. He lives and breathes it. His passion inspires you to be just as articulate as he is. Additionally, the professor uses fun and effective classroom exercises to help you understand the lesson. He challenges you and gives you helpful feedback to improve. He makes the classroom a neutral environment where you are comfortable to give feedback and participate. Professor was ALWAYS prepared! Take his class if you want a fun experience in learning effective public speaking."
  • Spring 2012: "He really pushes the students to do the best they can, and he always gives great feedback. No matter how well you do, he always has something you can improve, and no matter how badly you do, he always has something you have done well. He tells you from the beginning he is a coach more than he is a teacher, and it is true."
  • Spring 2012: "Public Speaking is one of the most challenging classes that I have taken at Northeastern thus far, but with that said, it is one of the most valuable and rewarding classes that I have taken here. Public Speaking is a nerve-wracking class, but the way Dr. Hoppmann teaches this course really allows you to try and tackle your nerves and become more confident and comfortable with getting up in front of the class to speak. He realizes that public speaking can be nervous for some or most of the students in the class and therefore a lot of the class is composed of in-class training exercises that help prepare the students for the actual speech deliveries. Each in-class exercise has a purpose that helps build you as a stronger and more confident speaker. I highly recommend taking this course."
  • Spring 2012: "I learned a lot from him-he really knows what he is talking about."
  • Fall 2011: "This course was designed to help students improve public speaking, but more importantly gain more confidence. Professor Hoppmann aided us in the right direction and provided an environment that encouraged students to participate without feeling embarrassed. There's nothing I would improve about this class, it was thoroughly enjoyed."
  • Fall 2011: "The professor is very helpful and is always willing to share his vast knowledge with the class. He provided good feedback to help us improve with every speech."
  • Spring 2011: "I usually do not go out of my way to do evaluations, most professors force us to bring laptops to do it in the classroom. Professor Hoppmann is an exception for me, as I wish I took his class earlier in my undergraduate career. As a senior, I felt that I appreciated his class more than others! The skills that I learned in his class has carried over to my other business classes. I oftentimes used his tips and methods when giving powerpoint presentations in my classes. He is not only truthful and concise with his feedback throughout the course, but he is a fair grader, with a lot of patience! I will definitely use the skills I gained in just his class with my new career as a financial advisor. Thank you so much Professor!"
  • Spring 2011: "Michael Hoppmann is a great instructor. His charismatic inspires his students to work hard to meet expectations of this course. Mr. Hoppmann is one of an exemplary instructors of the Communication Department."
  • Spring 2011: "Great professor and very enthusiastic about teaching the course. He was more of a "coach" and helped us learn the necessary techniques to become a well-versed public speaker."
  • Spring 2011: "Fantastic professor, would absolutely recommend him to other students - he knows what he's talking about and really wants to improve your public speaking skills. His exercises are a lot of fun and the class is incredibly helpful."
  • Spring 2011: "Michael Hoppmann is a wonderful teacher, and is extremely knowledgeable in what he teaches. I have previously taken a Public Speaking course, and needless to say I learned much more in Professor Hoppmann's class than I did previously. I would recommend him to every student at this school, not only because he teaches what is possibly the most underrated but valuable course at this school, but he is an extremely effective teacher and a joy to be taught by."
  • Spring 2011: "An outstanding professor teaching a very useful class. Really takes the time to critique everybody equally and set individual improvement goals. He is truly a class act and is far and away one of the most enjoyable professors I have had here."
  • Fall 2010: "Very nice guy. He really cares that we do well on speeches."
  • Fall 2010: "The class was quite challenging, because I had to fight the fear of speaking in front of everyone. However, it really helped me to speak better in front of a crowd."
  • Summer 2010: "Professor Hoppmann was the best professor that I have had at Northeastern. He is extremely intelligent and knows how to teach the material to his students. His class teaches skills that I will use for the rest of my time at NU and for all of my professional career. He is very helpful to students who do not understand the material and is willing to help us in any way. This class was entertaining, interesting and beneficial in so many different ways. Overall, it was a great class that I would recommend to anyone."
  • Summer 2010: "This class has helped me so much and the right kind of teacher is needed to teach this class. Fortunately, Hoppmann had the perfect balance of keeping us working hard while also keeping us interested. He gave great feedback for me to improve my public speaking skills and the class environment as a whole was very positive."
  • Spring 2010: "This instructor was fantastic. He was a great teacher who genuinely cared about the material and his students."
  • Spring 2010: "Dr. Hoppmann is very educated in this field of study and provides a comfortable yet challenging atmosphere to practice public speaking. He was awesome!"
  • Spring 2010: "Great Enthusiasm. Very knowledgeable. Learned a lot from the course."
  • Spring 2010: "This course was not necessarily intellectually challenging because of the nature of the course material but for me it was definitely personally challenging and I found that the way that Hoppmann taught the course was effective. From the very first day he made us volunteer and speak in front of the class and by doing so, and forcing out of our comfort zone it helped us to all improve. I also really appreciated the fact that he graded us on the speeches but also gave us a test in order to give those of us with a little more trouble speaking a chance to redeem ourselves. Overall, I was very happy with the course, even though it proved to be one of my most difficult due to the personal fear that I am still working to overcome."
  • Fall 2009: "Great teacher, connected with students on a level I’ve never experienced, managed to make everyone have fun with an often dreaded experience."
  • Fall 2009: "Hoppmann is the best professor who I have had here at NU. His passion for public speaking lit an equal passion within me. He participated in exercises and showed us how effective a good public speaker can be. Sometimes I wonder if teachers are truly masters of the material they teach or if they're just good at going through the motions because they've taught it so many times. Hoppmann is undoubtedly a master of his craft and he was always fully prepared and 100% passionate about the material. I hope that he will remain at this university so that I have an opportunity to take one of his courses in the future."
  • Fall 2009: "This professor is amazing. He genuinely cares about students' progress and the subject. He made up fun ways for us to exercise skills for speaking that still challenged us. I would recommend him to anyone who is interested in this class."
  • Fall 2009: "A+. I have no suggestions for improvement. The professor did an outstanding job teaching this course and working with the students."
  • Summer 2009: "He knows what he's talking about so well. He understands students, is willing to listen to changes and at the same time teaches us in a fun environment. Bringing games and new stuff to class simply continues to amaze students even more. That's the whole point of interactive learning."
  • Summer 2009: "Professor Hoppmann definitely knows what he is doing when it comes to Public Speaking. He acts more as a coach than a teacher which takes a lot of the pressure off of class time and makes it much more enjoyable."
  • Spring 2009: "His enthusiasm and drive to have us try without fear of failing was truly motivating and inspired me as well as others to give speeches, for our own self-development, by choice."
  • Spring 2009: "In-class immediate and beneficial feedback, ordering of speeches on a voluntary basis (as most are afraid of the pressure to speak) and the constant variety of in-class exercises to develop speaking skills step by step."
  • Spring 2009: "His love for the material came across every class and it enthused the students."
  • Spring 2009: "Relationships were mutual, I feel both the professor and classmates genuinely enjoyed one another during class time."
  • Fall 2008: "He is very passionate about the subject and you can tell he is very knowledgeable about it, too. He was always on time for class and never cancelled class."
  • Fall 2008: "I will definitely use what I learned in this class if I ever have to give a speech of any sort in my life."
  • Fall 2008: "Professor Hoppmann gave us lots of feedback to improve our public speaking and tried to make us feel comfortable and think of public speaking as an opportunity rather than a chore."
  • Fall 2008: "Great teacher, loves teaching, what more can be said."
  • Fall 2008: "Professor Hoppmann has more than enough rhetorical background to be teaching this course, and because of this I think he did an amazing job. He was straight forward, clear in his lectures, and motivated to teach. I feel as though I received the best education in the field as the course allowed because of his expertise and unique teaching methods."
  • Fall 2008: "Hoppmann was one of the best teachers I have ever had and I sincerely appreciate his effort to teach us the most about public speaking as he could. He was willing to help in any way to assist his students understand the material, etc. I personally was quite the comedian in his class, and although the atmosphere was mostly serious, he allowed for us to joke around with him and interacted with us light-heartedly. I loved this class because of him and hope that everyone gets a chance to experience him as a teacher. Thanks Hoppmann."
        • 1