Joia Jefferson-Nuri (Courtesy photo)

Joia Jefferson-Nuri has always had an excellent command of the English language. Her extraordinary ability to speak, write and to communicate is the foundation upon which she built her career as a publicist, speechwriter, media trainer, and public speaker.

At 66, she’s decided to hone her gift on a “third and final act,” as she calls it, as she seeks to “recalibrate” and focus her work on training others who wish to become better communicators and effective public speakers.

Joia’s love of public speaking and passion for training has moved her to rebrand, In the Public Eye Communications, a company she founded over 20 years ago, and to launch an online public speaking training course for those senior-level executives and others, to learn to speak “in a concise, persuasive and engaging manner.”

“The first impression anyone has of you comes from how you look,” advised Joia. “But the second impression anyone has of you is how you speak. In less than 30 seconds people have formed an opinion of you.”

Joia’s awareness of the benefits of excellent communications skills isn’t recent. As a child growing up in Baltimore to a father who was a classical singer, she, along with her siblings, was forced to enunciate clearly from a very young age. Her father, she said, insisted upon it and encouraged them to speak loudly.

“If the house were burning down,” she said, “he would still correct my English at every moment.”

Joia’s career, which spans more than 45 years, is communications specific. A graduate of American University, Nuri began working in television at NBC and CBS. She was the first African-American technical director for CBS Evening News and Face the Nation, and she’s served as senior producer for BET, PBS, NPR, and C-SPAN.

Her public speaking, writing and strategic communications skills have been tapped by a broad range of organizations including TransAfrica, the Institute of Policy Studies, Black Farmers of America, the Washington Teachers’ Union, as well as the D.C. Department of General Services. Joia also serves as a political analyst on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin and other news programs.

But it’s the speaking, writing and media training that feed Joia’s passions.

“The only thing I really love is public speaking training. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to see a client’s confidence build,” she said after they have been exposed to all of the tools in her toolbox that result in them improving their prowess as a public speaker.

“I get a high from the training,” she said.

Joia is confident she can transform almost anyone into a great speaker and it can be done in five hours or two sessions.

“The work is intense,” she said. “It requires you to do homework that includes breathing exercises, working on self-development and knowledge skills, and most important, managing one’s fears of self-doubt.”

“Everyone has insecurities and fears of getting on a stage to speak. It’s the self-judgment that can be one’s worst enemy. But you must surrender to the fact that you’re on that stage because someone invited you to speak who believed you had something to say that is important for others to know,” she added.

Most recently, Joia took her love for communications and for the freedom of the press to a stage in Wilmington, DE for her first nine-minute TEDx presentation entitled: A Reimagined Fourth Estate. Prior to that, she successfully scheduled, wrote and coached at least nine executives for TEDx presentations, but attempts on her own behalf were repeatedly rejected.

She said she was “thrilled” when she got her letter of invitation but almost panicked when she nearly forgot her first line before going on stage.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a nonprofit that invites people to share ideas in “short, powerful” talks for 18 minutes or less before a diverse audience.

Joia said she wants to train more people to perform TED talks by teaching them mechanics of storytelling that begins with research, writing, and memorization and lots of rehearsing.

Joia believes it is essential for people to be able to articulate what they feel and what they know and to be able to speak anywhere, and “engage audiences with your story,” according to her website.

The goal of Joia’s training is to “exploit your strengths and rid your weaknesses, helping you create an effective ‘tool kit’ of practices which will allow you to participate in any conversation or step on any stage.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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