The Bake Off guide to meetings

From getting your timings right to producing a show-stopping slideshow, we take inspiration from the BBC hit baking show…

It’s the hugely popular show watched by millions, but what can small businesses learn about meetings from the Great British Bake Off?

Cake on Glass Stand Next to Some Flowers. Close-up.

It seems plenty – from knowing how to organise yourself to following basic instructions, the amateur bakers are role models for those about to attend of organise a company get together.

Get your timing right
In the baking world, getting your timing spot on can mean the difference between a perfect sponge and a burnt cake. But it’s not just time in the oven that’s important – dough needs time to rest and cakes should be left to cool before icing.

During your meeting, timing is also key. Whether it’s knowing when to schedule a break, or planning how long your meeting should run for. But one of the most important timing elements, that is often overlooked, is pacing – knowing when to move onto another subject. A badly paced meeting means you could spend too long on one topic and neglect others, or that you are focussing too much on an issue that no one’s interested in.

Follow instructions
During the technical challenge, the bakers are often given a basic set of instructions. While some key elements are missing, the least they should be doing is what’s on the paper – yet they often forget to do even those things, leading to disaster.

If you’re attending a meeting and have been given an agenda, see this as your set of instructions. Read it once, and then read it again. If there’s anything you need to prepare beforehand, make sure you’ve done it according to how the host of the meeting wants it done.

Baking Ingredients on a Table Next to Kitchen Scales

Know your audience
Paul and Mary are both professional bakers who know a good Madeline from a bad one. But even they have their own particular cakes and ingredients they’re not so fond of. Knowing these can give Bake-Off hopefuls a subtle advantage over their competitors.

The same applies to meetings – knowing who your audience is, or having a good idea of how your host likes to run a meeting can give you an advantage. Things like knowing if they run an efficient meeting with specific times for questions, or are more relaxed and expect attendees to get involved in discussions throughout.

Create a show stopper
Even people who’ve come last in the technical challenge can save themselves for another week by pulling it out of the bag in the show stopper round. And it’s not a time to play it safe – go for broke or go home.

If you’re planning a crucial meeting in which you need to impress someone – whether it’s a new client or your colleagues – then you need to go for it. Don’t just throw a few ideas at a PowerPoint, you’ve got to bring your A game. This means doing your research and providing new insights, or putting together a presentation that is full of striking images, amazing facts and which finishes on a bang.


Posted by Master Baker Sara Cano – Winner of the Macmillan/BE Bake-Off 2015



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