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Joyce Daniels is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and the founder of Talkademy, a training school for masters of ceremonies. As she tells us about this unique career path in this interview, she shares some useful tips for upcoming and even experienced masters of ceremonies. Joyce also tells us about her new book, and the #stayinyourlane campaign which she promotes. I had a great time speaking with her.

Howfana: Being a female must be a selling point in itself? Do you remember the moment when you decided that you wanted to become a professional MC?

Joyce: It is a selling point. Yes, I remember the exact day. It was the 11th of November, 2007. It was a Sunday. I MC’d the lauch of Sleek Hair Make Up in Lagos, and I knew this was for me. I had MC’d as a hobby before then. But that day, I knew I could make a profession out of this. And I just said to myself, that night, ‘Joyce, give it ten years. You will be something.

That’s rare. I don’t think we have a lot of young people who are willing to look down the road in whatever they are doing. They may leave it to their organization to say, we’ll promote you whenever you’re due. But for you to say ‘ten years’, it says a lot about you. Could you give us an example of an MC job that went so well and you were so pleased? 

That’s like all every one of them.

So should we go to the nightmarish one… perhaps, a nightmare that you were able to turn around?

In October of 2011,at one of the Government Houses. I got there two hours ahead of time but I couldn’t find my security pass till the event was about to start. When I got in, the event had started without me. I got a tongue lashing from the chairman of the organizing committee who was the chairman of a bank. He lashed at me no holds barred. So that destabilized me. I shed a few tears.

The great thing was, he came to me within five minutes and apologized

The great thing was, he came to me within five minutes and apologized. He said that he had just been told that I had been there for about two hours. He thought that I had just arrived. So he apologized, and said, ‘take a few minutes, go put yourself together. I have told someone to start off the event. You can have the rest of the evening off. But make sure you mingle’.

However he taught me something I have never forgotten.

He said, ‘always speak to the decision maker.

‘If they couldn’t find your pass, you should have reached out to me. I am the Chairman of the organizing committee. I could have said, “Send her in without a pass”.

I have never forgotten that. It ended up not ruining the event.

I do see a tactic that you employ; coming ahead of time. That’s bound to solve a lot of problems, right?

Yes. Tip number one: always be there on time. It puts you in the right frame of mind because you are there before everybody. You see the set up, you feel like you are part of the event. You can correct wrongs…check for sound. You get to know who is sitting where… You could be present better than when you rush in and you are trying to gather your thoughts. And everybody is looking at you like, hey why are you just coming in? Thirty minutes ahead of time is fine. One hour is best.

A lot of clients seek out comedians to host their events. How do you deal with this trend?

Quality stands the test of time. You just keep improving your quality. When clients see and experience you, they make that decision. Comedians have their place. So we are not trying to take work away from them. We want to be able to strike the balance between refined MCing and Comedy and figuring out the kind of events that need comedians.

What are some of those things that could make you decline a job?

If the client doesn’t trust me enough, if they haven’t experienced me and they have a particular mindset…  Also, if the event represents a brand or an image that I do not stand for then I’ll turn it down. Also, if the client is not willing and able to pay the fees that I quote, then I am willing to walk away. 

 What is a common error that clients make when hiring or putting together events?

There are sometimes oversights; sometimes they don’t reach out to the emcee on time. I am ten years in the business. I am no longer as free as I once was.

Sometimes there is the oversight of fine details like getting the bios of speakers. They might not think of it until the day of the event. Then the MC asks, ‘how do I introduce this person?’ and they say, Oh we don’t even know or we didn’t even get anything. And there might be no information on the internet. Sometimes you get wrong information or outdated information from the internet.

Also information about color codes, dress codes, they might forget to communicate. How do I mitigate this? I send a questionnaire ahead as soon as I accept the job.

I would advise people to send a questionnaire to find out, what is the objective of the program, what is the history of the event? What is the history of the event? Is this the second or third edition? What is the theme? Is there a slogan I should know? Is there a color code or a particular way I should be dressed? Is there a protocol I should observe? If you are working for golfers for example, it’s different from if you are working for a financial institution.

Also, have the speakers been told how much time they have? Many times, event organizers overlook that. They write to a speaker and give them the topic but they forget to give them a speaking duration. 

Tell us something about your book, Mastery, Boosting Your Speaking Income By Working As a Professional Event Host MC.

It has all the basic tools for upcoming or experienced MCs. It has a few of my stories. It also has a juicy part where twelve MCs from around the world talk about some of their experiences and give some of their tips for upcoming MCs. It’s rich. It’s an easy read; about two hours. It’s starting off as an e-book and an audio book. You could buy either or both. It’s available on the website, By Christmas, it will be available as a hard copy

What are the things a person should look for in himself/herself in order to decide if this is the right career path for them?

Number one: do you enjoy speaking? Do people tell you that you that you speak well? Because sometimes, people point out our strengths faster than we do. If people have been saying it to you, then that’s a very good pointer.

You should also look out to see what you need to quickly improve on. Not necessarily a weakness, it could be a strength. For example, do you need to brush up your elocution, how you pronounce words, that sort of thing?

Also, f you have a strong desire yet you feel incapacitated, you can still move forward because we can take care of the things that reduce your confidence [if you have a strong desire].

Also if you have a regular nine to five job and you need an extra income, you could be an even host on Saturdays and Sundays. You just need to brush up your speaking skills. You don’t need to leave your job. You don’t need inventory or start-up capital. You just need you, to turn up and tell people what it is you do. You may need to offer a few free gigs to get people to see what you do then you can build up on that. 

You have a campaign which you’ve been promoting online, #stayinyourlane. Tell us about that.

It comes from a place of knowing that no two destinies are the same and people will not always see things the way you see. So focus on what it is you see. In my case, a number of people told me that I could not be a master of ceremonies full time. They said it was neither feasible nor profitable enough. Ten years have gone by. I stayed focused on my focus and stayed in my lane. And here I am. It has been profitable, scaleable and admirable. Stay in your lane, focus on your focus.

Stay in your lane, focus on your focus.



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