‘There has been a remarkable increase of female MCs’
Joyce Daniels is a professional master of ceremonies and senior trainer with the prestigious 106-year-old Dale Carnegie and Associates. She is also the founder, Talkademy, Africa’s Premiere Training School for Masters of Ceremonies, training over 300 MCs till date. For over a decade, she has facilitated trainings in presentation skills & public speaking, sales, effective communication and human relations, team building and more. Daniels holds a B.Sc. in Human Anatomy, from the University of Port Harcourt . She is a member of the Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria, an Associate of the Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), author, TEDx speaker and youth mentor. Her first publication, Mastery, is a comprehensive guide for MCs and individuals who need to earn more from their speaking prowess. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for hosting events.
What endeared you to the master of ceremonies craft, having bagged a degree in human anatomy?
First would be my natural gift and flare for “talking.” I required no start-up capital, rent or inventory. It was just the logical thing for me to do. Then there’s my chronic desire to be unique – yes it was at the time, a unique career choice – and for many years, people expressed surprise and even shock when they heard being an event host MC was my full-time career. And for posterity, I recognised the long-term opportunity to professionalise and institutionalise the space, thereby creating decent work and economic empowerment for thousands of individuals.
Tell us about Talkademy and what values it adds to the MC business?
I founded Talkademy – Africa’s Premiere Training School for Masters of Ceremonies, out of a strong desire to raise individuals like myself, restless “talkatives” who could apply themselves to being and doing more. We started out as an offline school, but now have our trainings online, with occasional live workshops. Talkademy is now a subsidiary of Talknation, which is the larger movement for the development of individuals who “Talk for Impact and Income.” MCs who have attended any of our trainings attest to a surge in professionalism, increase in customer satisfaction, improved audience engagement, more referrals and better remuneration. We recently launched our first online summit, tagged “Launch Your Talk Business.” We have a host of national and international speakers, showing individuals exactly how to add confidence, verve and precision to their ‘talking’ for increased impact and multiplied income. The summit is accessible from anywhere in the world at www.talknation.live/talkathon.
Comedians also serve as MCs on occasions. Is that to say that more is required to be a good MC?
Humour is food for the soul; hence it is required of every professional MC to employ tact in the application of humour. Comedians on the other hand, are advised and encouraged to acquire proper training and polish, so they can easily occupy the office of an MC with suave and proper courtesies. Talkademy has an online masterclass for comedians called Stand-up to Stand-Out.
What qualifies an individual to venture into being an MC?
The paramount qualification is the love for, and interest in speaking. The individual must enjoy being before an audience. There should be no reluctance. They must as it were, “love the sound of their own voice” and be excited. Being extroverted is not an absolute guarantee for being a great speaker or neither does being introverted stop anyone. An introvert with the right amount of passion and desire will succeed just as well. A strong desire to excel, an open mind to learning the nuances of our profession, application of top-notch, world-class service delivery, relentless desire and ability to surpass client and audience expectations every time and the ability to reinvent self over and over again, are just some of the guiding principles that would also help.
Do you think there is an improvement in the way events are anchored in Nigeria?
Yes, I believe there is an improvement. Clients are more aware of what they want, MCs are aware competition is stiff, audiences are more exposed and therefore demand more. And more trainings are available to MCs now, so people are indeed improving their delivery.
What in your view engages the audience more as an MC?
Questions and activities for participation are such powerful tools for engagement. The key is to ensure all questions and activities remain relevant to the theme of the event.
How will you assess the growth of Talkademy and its influence on the MC sector in the country?
The MC industry is currently at the phase the makeup industry was 10 years ago – going from ‘aunty, sister, and cousin’ makeup artists, to professional, well-trained, well-paid makeup artists. Our growth is progressive and encouraging, as we see remarkable improvements. Clients are asking more for professionals than untrained family and friends. Companies are asking more for professionals than unskilled staff and colleagues. We see growth in the lives and businesses of our alumni. More of them have the confidence to identify themselves as MCs and they exercise the boldness to ask for better fees than they did before contact with Talkademy. This has improved general perception of the sector, which is good for business.
In your 11 years of being a professional MC, what has the industry taught you?
My experience has taught me practically nothing is impossible. I have learnt that quality trumps gender and tribe and there is stupendous money available to be earned by those who are ready to put in the extra work.
What is the place of women in the MC world? Have they improved how hosting events is done and increased competition?
Women actually have an advantage, because we are more pleasant to the eyes, we are generally warmer in disposition and are by design, more empathetic. This means we are more likely to go the extra mile to surpass client and audience expectations, without letting ego get in the way. I have seen a remarkable increase in the number of women coming in. As a matter of fact, Talkademy alumni are 70 per cent women.
Tell us about your growing up and how it has influenced your passion and work?
I grew up in a large family with eight siblings, so it was super fun. That has translated into my injection of fun in everything I do. My clients always say, “Joyce we had fun,” regardless of the nature of the event. I grew up inquisitive and a talkative and I have built a successful career on these same traits. I grew up fearless, confident and courageous, being a defender to my younger brothers and sometimes my older sisters; so, it is no surprise I am working hard, as it were, in defence of upcoming MCs.
As a wife, mum, public speaker, trainer, and author, how do you manage to fit into these caps?
As much as I totally love what I do, it could be draining and sometimes extremely stressful. It is indeed hard work. But, I always remind myself-this is the price to pay; success is not cheap, nor is it easy. I constantly schedule and reschedule, plan and update plans to ensure everything and everyone fits in. It’s an endless task and I enjoy it most times. My husband surely misses having a wife who’s there for him everyday, and I’m grateful for his understanding, support, co-operation and encouragement, we continue to strive for balance. From a young age, I have travelled around with my son as often as possible, sometimes he had to miss a few days at school, but this is our reality, we must make it work. We convert our trips to learning experiences and bonding time. He’s almost done with secondary school now and so it is easier to manage.
What advice do you have for women in pursuing their dreams?
Be as clear as possible on what you really want and never settle for less. Cry when you’re overwhelmed, as tears relieve stress and tension. Build a support system of trusted friends and family, as we need shoulders to lean on occasionally. Avoid playing the gender game, learn everything your trade requires and give it your best. Customers seek solution and care less about gender. And finally, think positive as best you can.
How do you relax?
I exercise as it really relaxes me. I indulge in a good massage at home, sleep and watch funny movies where possible. I enjoy hanging out with friends too.
What keeps you going?
I want to live to the fullest and die empty; I want to get to heaven and hear God say, “well done my faithful servant”, it’s my daily drive.