The IDEA Center Blog

7 Tips to Becoming a Stronger Public Speaker

Does the very thought of standing in front of a crowd of people to make a presentation make you fell slightly ill? A lot of people share this fear, but it is one that entrepreneurs can’t allow to become paralyzing. The Kauffman Founders School has a great video series to help people become better public speakers. We summarize a few of the highlights below, but please watch the videos here for a fuller picture.

1.  Start with a Good First Impression

It is true that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Having a solid start will set the tone for the rest of the speech. Start off with telling the audience who you are and what you do. A compelling story or example with be the best way to hook their interest and keep them listening.Create an

2.  Emotional Appeal

You can stand up in front of an audience and relate all sorts of facts and figures that can all be true but unless you create an emotional appeal with the audience you will not get the same kind of connection. Tell stories that will appeal to your audience that they will find a connection to and be able to relate with. Use similes and analogies to relate it as much as possible to the audience so they can understand it and make it their own.

3.  Craft a WOW Statement

Come up with a one to two sentence slogan or condensed elevator speech to explain what it is you do. It needs to be short enough to not bore them but packed full of enough information to gain attention. Use an analogy to cast a new light or whatever service or product you have. Visual words will bring the statement to light inside the listener’s minds. The response to these statement should be “Cool … tell me more.”

4.  Show Enthusiasm

If you do not believe in what you are saying then the listeners won’t either. Before a presentation take time to slow down and prep. Look into a mirror, listen to an energetic song or simply breathe slowly to clear your mind and put yourself in presenter mode. Be sure to make eye contact with your audience, this will show confidence and build trust with them. Keep filler words such as umm, so, you know or like to an absolute minimum. Start with an attention grabber that will start off with excitement and keep that energy going.

5.  Don’t Misuse Your Slides

It is quite easy to try and squeeze too much information into a presentation. Keep your slides to a minimum. Additionally, do not have wordy slides. If someone can look through your slides and completely understand your idea, then you are not giving the presentation, your slides are. Limit the amount of words per slide and just give enough information on them to gain interest and give a hint about what is to come.

6.   Don’t Finish with Questions and Answers.

Obviously, there will be questions after a presentation and you should take time to go through and answer them. However, never ask “are there any more questions?” wait for silence and then walk away. Always leave your audience with one final thought. Even if it is just a few sentences or a quick quote, make sure you direct their thoughts back to your main point.

7.  Practice and Rehearse

Practice makes perfect and there is no thing such as practicing too much. You cannot give a good presentation unless you are well versed in it. What will take your presentation from good to great will be to rehearse. With rehearsing, it is done in front of a practice audience. Even if it is only in front of a few friends, rehearsing in front of people will add that human element of interaction and feedback that is not there when you practice alone.


We didn’t come up with these tips all on our own. The Kauffman Founder’s School is an amazing resource for entrepreneurs. Watch their series of videos on public speaking here.



What is Innovate ND?


Innovate ND provides access to beneficial venture tools, online entrepreneur education, and extensive resources. If you are a North Dakota-based entrepreneur or innovator working on a new concept, you may be eligible for the program.

An entry fee of $250 gains you access to $2,500 of resources through a certified North Dakota entrepreneurial center like the IDEA Center. Funds can be used to create your business plan, prototype development, coaching and consulting and marketing assistance.
With a $250 entry fee, participants gain:

  • Up to a $2,500 voucher to be used through a certified entrepreneurial center.
  • Access to a venture building process.
  • Online entrepreneur education.
  • Business planning tools.
  • Entrepreneurial boot camps held at entrepreneurial centers across the state in the spring and fall.
  • Access to a statewide entrepreneurial community.
  • Choice of an entrepreneurial center or centers that you would like to work.
  • Coaching from the center you choose to determine a unique timeline that works for you to reach your business venture goals, develop a business plan or refine your current business plan. You and your coach will work together to determine a game plan that works for you and the stage of your business venture.

If your idea qualifies, you may move into additional phases.

For more information about the Innovate ND Program, please visit the Commerce Department’s website.


The Power of Social Media

By: Joe Berger, IDEA Center Intern

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge showed the world that social media is an incredibly powerful tool for raising money and public awareness for charity.  People who might not otherwise participate in a charity event ended up both participating and publicly challenging their friends to participate as well.  That is the power of social media.

In the summer of 2014 I had an adventure that really taught me the power of social media.  Alongside two of my best friends, I bicycled from Bismarck, North Dakota to St. Petersburg, Florida and raised almost $250,000 for the Bismarck Cancer Center Foundation and the American Cancer Society.  We created a social media plan to publicize our trip, and by executing that plan we raised awareness of our efforts and drove traffic to our online fundraising page.

Here is what worked for us:

Facebook videos

People like to look at bright and shiny things on Facebook.  We discovered that by creating and sharing videos we could quickly expand our reach.  We posted daily videos about our rides and the people we met.  We also worked to expand our reach by including comedy and celebrities in our videos.  Our most successful video was of us singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with Minnesota Twin’s catcher Joe Mauer.  This video generated over 50,000 unique views in less than 24 hours and really demonstrated the power of social media to us.

Twitter outreach

NCAA Tweet in support of Bike2Believe

During our ride we targeted celebrities on Twitter to try to reach their immense audience.  We had success with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, actor Josh Duhamel and the official Twitter account of the NCAA.  When these Twitter accounts mentioned our twitter handle @bike2believe we saw our social media reach expand dramatically.  The funny thing we learned was that this strategy could be effective even when the celebrity didn’t respond to our outreach.  One of our tweets that simply mentioned Ellen Degeneres received over 425 retweets meaning it was potentially seen by tens of thousands of people.

Focusing on the mission

Team Dash

Cancer is a terrible disease that impacts almost everyone in some way.  One of the incredibly inspirational things I saw on this journey was the resilience and positive attitudes exhibited by the cancer patients we met.  We tried to capture this resilience in many ways, including a series of posts showing cancer patients holding signs with inspirational quotes.  These posts helped to humanize our mission and helped to spread our message among our targeted market of those already engaged in the fight for cancer research.

With Bike2Believe a group of three college students were able to raise almost a quarter million dollars for cancer patients, treatment and research.  We did this by accidentally harnessing the power of social media.


Mighty Missouri Coffee

Mighty Mo logo


Think of a typical CEO/ President…. Mounds of paperwork, a desk, 9-5, right?Brian roasting

Well Brian Jackson is anything but typical, he is able to roast coffee, brew coffee, and also bring it on adventures! Alongside directing the success of Mighty Missouri Coffee Company he still remains a passionate swimmer, cyclist, and runner. If he’s not immediately reachable, there’s a strong chance he is on the lake in his hometown of Hazen, ND. It doesn’t stop here though, he’s additionally an avid writer for TV and other media, as well as finding time to spend with family and friends!

Storytelling plays a key part in Brian’s life and remains the catalyst behind creating Another Day, Another Adventure.
This short, planned series will venture into some of the unique aspects of North Dakota that those outside of the state, or even inside, didn’t know existed. From scuba diving to ENDRacing Brian plans to remove the stereotypical stigma floating over North Dakota tourism and display the vast array of adventures hiding right under our noses! This is something a lot of people are excited about so be sure to look out for what is to come in the future!

His passions for producing the finest tasting coffee extend further into fueling positive change through the Blood:Water program. Every Blood:Water coffee is able to provide a friend in Africa clean water for one year. Through the life-giving work of Blood:Water, any purchase of a bag of Blood:Water Mighty Missouri Coffee assists local heroes and grass-roots organizations to bring an end to the clean water crisis in Sub Saharan Africa.

You can purchase Mighty Missouri Coffee from their website

Or also find a local store holding their supply

Brian Roasting 3

Interview with Brian Jackson – By Jonny Sellars

1) How/ when did Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. begin? 

I grew up in Hazen, a small town with good fishing (and sunsets) on the south shore of Lake Sakakawea. It was sort of those experiences on the lake with friends and family that began to build the brand and vision in my mind – something to call to those experiences and bring people together. I think coffee does a good job of bringing people together. In 2013, I took some courses on coffee and learned everything I could and it took off from there. I’m still learning every day.

2) What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur? 

I think, being creative and a dreamer at heart, it’s nice to operate in a space that really has no limits. If I have an idea for a product, I can follow through with it. There are endless projects within the company that I can move forward with, and that’s been really fun, but it’s that same “no limits” space that is also very paralyzing. It’s sort of like being dropped in the middle of an ocean and being told, “go.”

3) What is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?

 I’m a team player and building a grassroots team is hard. I am well aware that the more creative diversity that goes into the product, the better it becomes. I get sick of me. Fortunately, I’ve had really great people surround me and help push me further, but the future vision is very much a dynamic team that likes their coffee.

4) Where did you get the idea for Another Day, Another Adventure?

Another Day, Another Adventure is a video project that’s been on my mind for several years. It’s only recently taken on the name, but the idea has been the same: highlighting amazing people doing amazing things in this area. There are many. If I could tell a good story and make these passions approachable, everyone benefits. Recently, we had the chance to film the first story with a friend and personal hero, Kelly Magelky. Kelly is the best kind of person.  He took us from his life in professional cycling to his successful video production company and told it in an inspirational way. I’m excited for people to see it!

5) Where do you see this program going?

It’s hard to tell. I’m open to anything, as long as people can see these stories, and they can continue to be told in an authentic way. Right now it’s been a bit stuck in the fundraising stage, which is frustrating, but everything that is worthwhile has to be fought for.

6) How do you balance a project like this alongside being the CEO of successful coffee company?  

Both Mighty Missouri Coffee and Another Day, Another Adventure are about good storytelling, and I think that’s where my best talents lie. I still consider Mighty Missouri a startup and I think I’ve been fortunate enough and found the help of some amazing people to watch it grow into something bigger. I’m excited to see what happens over the next few years.

Brian roasting 2

7) Do you have any advice to offer entrepreneurs such as yourself? 

Entrepreneurs make a new path, and that’s scary business. Have faith and be careful about the voices you let into the room. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and let the others go. It’s just too much to shoulder, otherwise. Smile when things go awry, because it’s part of the story, and life is good. I’m still learning that one…



Threefold header

Three heads

Three brothers, three parts, and three believers in the power of storytelling. Threefold started in the fall of 2013 as passion turned challenge in building a video production studio that connected with people through storytelling and captivating images. The success of their “community” video project for the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber accelerated their brand and allowed the business to grow much quicker than originally anticipated.


Threefold is now an established North Dakota-based creative video production studio, committed to creating the finest high quality content. Last year they had the opportunity to submit two entries into the 2014 ADDY awards for North Dakota. This awards program honors excellence in advertising and cultivates the highest creative standard with the American Advertising Federation. Both entries were awarded gold in their designated categories, highlighting the excellence of the work the brothers were producing!

The company provides a wide variety of video production services including everything from documentaries to corporate training videos. However, no matter what the task is they always take great pride in their work and ensure everything is executed with creativity, precision and love.

Threefold pictures

Interview with Logan Hauff – By Jonny Sellars

What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

“For us I think it is multiple things; the ability to challenge ourselves daily, the pursuit of building something we can call our own, and most importantly we’re doing what we love!”

What is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?

“I think with any entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges you face is finding balance. The demands of starting a business force us to inevitably sacrifice personal time.
Finding a balance between work, personal time, and family is vitally important, not only for your own well-being, but also the success of your business.  The last thing you want to do is burn out because you never had any personal time.”

Describe the relationship of three brothers working together

“We get a lot of comments from people about how they can’t imagine working with their siblings and I’ll tell you there is usually never a lack of honest “opinion”.
However, within the early stages of the business we had a conversation about leveraging one another’s strengths and delegating the right areas of the business to the right brother for the job. This way someone always has a final say based on the areas of the company they are managing.”

Do you have any advice to offer young entrepreneurs such as yourself?

“Start something. Everyone wants to have a perfect plan or idea before they dive in, but that path usually leads to never starting!
There is a quote we love by Mr. Mike Tyson “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. The journey of entrepreneurship is about execution, failure and rebound. But if you never step out with a willingness to try and fail then you can count on watching someone else succeed at what you could have been doing.”

To take a look at some of their work and gather any further information visit their website: