- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

What MasterChef teaches us about masterful communication

13th May, 2016

What MasterChef teaches us about masterful communication

So it’s my guilty pleasure, watching MasterChef, and last week I was sad to see the series end. I like the disasters as much as the breathtaking successes and always end up resolving to make my own gnocchi (but never quite getting round to it). But most of all I love watching Greg Wallace (no, not like that).

I know what you’re thinking – ‘Greg Wallace, isn’t he the cockney chancer who doesn’t seem to know much about being a chef?” Well, I’ll let you in to a little secret, something that the MasterChef producers have known for years. Greg Wallace makes MasterChef. He’s the *terrible metaphor alert* egg that binds together the MasterChef gateau. The reason? He’s a brilliant communicator.

When we are watching a show like MasterChef we are just watching other people having a sensory experience. We may see the food being made, but we don’t get to smell it or, more importantly, taste it. We rely on the show’s presenters to share their highs and lows.

So whilst Greg might not always know how his pho from his fondant fancies, he is brilliant at explaining exactly what he is experiencing, taking us with him on his journey.

How does he do this? Well, firstly he uses very specific language (”sweet notes”, “tangy background”, “fruity hit”). He might start a sentence with “That’s yummy”, but he always explains why. Secondly, he uses highly evocative language to convey what he’s feeling (”I could put that meringue in a corner and snog it”, “I could eat a bucket of that”, “It’s meant to be a crumble, not a rhubarb swamp”).

If you don’t believe me, try watching another regional version of MasterChef. Once you’ve sat through ten dishes described simply as “delicious” or “not so good”, you’ll quickly get bored.

My point is if you want hold someone’s interest, the language you use needs to be specific and colourful. We should explain why exactly our product or service is so good. And we also shouldn’t be afraid to, when the time is right, use more emotive language to inspire, persuade or uplift.

Whilst in the B2B world we may not want to refer to snogging or buckets, we also shouldn’t restrict ourselves to describing services over and over again as solutions-driven (yawn), strategic (snore) or client-focussed (deep, deep sleep). So next time you are communicating, don’t be afraid to add a dash of inspiration.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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