Standing in front of hundreds of people in the name of directing an event looks glamorous but it is no joke. Ask anyone who does that for a living. They’re called Masers of Ceremonies, Compere’s, Event Host and so on.
In Nigeria, a few years ago such jobs were left for stand-up comedians and mostly men. The MC’s job is to make sure the event goes as smoothly as possible, taking the pressure off the event organiser and allowing them to have a good time. As far back as 2007, one woman decided she would have a seat at the table where men ruled. Not only did she secure a seat for herself, she is guiding other people – men and women to get a seat at the table too- to becoming a professional MC.
Her name is Joyce Daniels.
Joyce Daniels, popularly known as the Queen of Talk, surprisingly has a background in Medicine (Anatomy). She started her career as a Professional Master of Ceremonies in 2007 and today, is amongst the top Event Host MCs & virtual event moderators, in Nigeria, hosting a long list of high-profile events, with clients in the the Oil & Gas Industry, Financial Services, Multinational companies, Diplomatic community, NGOs, Religious Organisations, & many more.
This same woman has a training school for aspiring Masters of Ceremonies and public speakers. She is also an author, athletic and has a massive following on social media. How does she wear so many hats and enjoy balance? Well, Ibiene settled for a chat with Joyce. Here’s how the conversation went;
Ibiene: From a medical background to the “Queen of Talk”, how did it happen? Please share your journey with us.
Joyce: I was supposed to be a very sharp, smart science student and for some illogical reason, “all” smart science students wanted to be doctors or engineers. I wanted to be a Doctor. My score in the University Matriculation Examination however, was not high enough to get me admitted into studying medicine. I was offered Human Anatomy at the University of Port Harcourt and I accepted it. I enjoyed it, not because of the academics, but simply because I know how to enjoy life. By my second year, I already knew I had made a mistake, but, I did not have the courage to switch courses, as it required losing a year. So I stayed.
After University, Anatomy degree in hand, coupled with my restlessness for wanting more from life, I decided the journey with medical science ended right there. I gave attention to what I enjoy which is talking and I decided to build a business out of it.
Ibiene: From Master of Ceremony, to being an author, a trainer/facilitator, Coach, Public Speaker then mum. How do you handle it all?
Joyce: Gratefully they don’t all require my attention at the same time. I was already a Mom before I became a Master of Ceremonies. So I blended both quite easily. My son always traveled with me, and since I have just him, it has been quite easy to always have him tag along – he’s tagged along till date. Whenever I need to travel and he’s around on holiday he travels with me. When he’s not on holiday he’s in boarding school. He will graduate from secondary school this year 2020, he’s 17 years old, a fine gentleman who can take care of himself without ‘Mom’.
The beauty about doing what you love is, it’s not “heavy” work. It feels more like a hobby I get paid for. There’s quite some travelling involved, and enjoying it. Being a trainer and a facilitator has a lot to do with scheduling. Most training and facilitation opportunities are scheduled weeks ahead so I am able to plan. Being a coach and a public speaker also come with quite some scheduling. Hardly ever do they just spring up on you that’s once in a while. So I’m quite planned out and it’s easy to fit my Mothering in.
Ibiene: It is said that every public speaker has experienced at least a flop on stage or a public embarrassment situation. Could you share one of those moments with us and what your reaction was?
Joyce: One moment for me was in 2012 when I was the MC at a wedding, at some point during the event, the Chairman picked up his own microphone and shouted out, “Madam MC why do you keep making announcements without conferring with me and confirming from me first?” I was shocked!!! But, I could honestly see his point, so I quickly said with the Microphone “Oh! Mr Chairman I am sorry, DJ please play some music.” I ran over to him, and worked through the rest of the program with him, and we agreed on how the event was going to proceed.
What that taught me, was “always confer with the Chairman before the event.” Since that day till date I have never started an event without speaking to my Chairman first. Either days before the event or just before the event starts. I go to the Chairman whoever he or she may be and I run them through the program, telling them what the possible changes would be, ensuring we’re on the same page.
Ibiene: In your 12 years and counting of being a Master of Ceremony have you ever felt like throwing in the towel?
Joyce: No, Never!
Have I been concerned about frequency of jobs and rates of fees earned? Yes! But, I always knew I would grow. I never doubted it for a second. I never ever felt like throwing in the towel. Now I have the kind of work frequency I desired, thankfully, I also earn the kind of fees I had always hoped for.
Ibiene: Let’s talk about how you’ve managed to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling in your industry.
Joyce: The Proverbial Glass Ceiling (laughs).
First of all when I started my journey, there was an event planner called ‘Ndidi Obioha of Enthyst Events.’ She was the first person who introduced me to the corporate space. She negotiated on my behalf. She exposed me to the right kind of clients and audiences. And I will say she broke the ceiling for me. We didn’t call it that then. We didn’t see it as breaking any ceiling. She was just someone doing her job, recommending the best MC for the job. She was more experienced in the industry, she knew the prevailing rates. She knew how to present me to key decision makers.
What this says to me is, excellence gets you noticed by the right people. So, although she was receiving her finder’s fees from me, it was money well-earned because I deserved those doors. She wasn’t doing me a favor to get me in, when I couldn’t deliver. I could deliver. I did deliver and it added feathers to her cap. When she brought me ‘into the doors’, the right doors, nobody asked if I was a woman or a man. They just wanted me to do the job exceptionally, I did! I still do.
Ibiene: The pandemic has affected the public speaking industry. Please share with us your coping mechanisms.
Joyce: Coping mechanisms for the pandemic;
1. I have fallen heavily on my training and coaching arm for speakers.I have put together different packages slightly different from the ones I had pre-COVID-19 and have been aggressively selling them. Thankfully, clients are looking for my offerings because many more people are speaking online now and require & desire training/coaching.
As there are all sorts of virtual meetings now, even people that could hide before, now have to make presentations online. The pandemic has changed the entire world and so everyone has changed along. Thankfully, there are still so many people who are willing to pay a pretty penny for this service.
2. I became more versed at moderating online events, as there are several online events which require a Moderator – that is the term used more frequently now, not MC.
3. Pre-COVID-19, I had a heavy savings culture. Therefore financially, I have been quite stable, making it easier to cope. I have tried to keep expenses to the minimum.
Ibiene: Let’s talk about your immense following on social media and your consistency. Do you have some tips for content creators who want to experience such growth?
Joyce: Here goes:
First be true to you.
I really really really really want to help MCs and Speakers grow. So my unwavering constant delivering of content or information for Speakers is from my heart wanting to help. So be true to you.
I also know there are such technical terms like ‘algorithms’, which may determine how visible you are to your audience, depending on how active you are online. So, because I do want people to see my posts, as I know that my posts are valuable, I am active and consistent about it. Initially, I didn’t know about anything like algorithms, I just wanted to put out great information and great content, I didn’t think about it too much. The moment it became too tedious to handle all by myself, I hired the services of professional social media managers who work with me to ensure consistency. We have discussions where I give them a lot of content from my heart. They edit, create the graphics and we schedule our posts.
I have evolved over time, I wasn’t always this organised, but, I have always been this consistent. So the advice is: be true to yourself, be consistent, seek professional help if need be.
Ibiene: Why the love for colour green?
Joyce: My love for green started in 2016 (laughs). Green has never been a favorite color of mine, maybe still isn’t. Green & white are the colours of my country Nigeria, so, to show solidarity and patriotism, I began to wear green and white only. As simple as that.
Ibiene: A look at your profile on social media indicates that you’re a fit fam. What’s your fave routine?
Joyce: Oh, my favorite fitfam routine would be lifting weights – barbells, dumbbells, body weight etc. I love weights, I love lifting, I enjoy it, it makes me happy and of course gives great results.
Ibiene: What stage are you looking forward to standing on even as an accomplished compere?
Joyce: Oh my! I have penned down several, allow me mention two here. The United Nations General Assembly and the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum.
What comments or questions do you have for Joyce Daniels? Please share in the comment section.