Toastmasters: Tall tale Contest
A tall tale is “a fictional story which is told in the form of personal narrative or anecdotes, which
challenges the listener’s credulity with comic outlandishness, and which performs different social functions depending on whether it is heard as true or as fictional.” In other words, because the tall tale is presented as a spontaneous reminiscence that happened either to the narrator or to an acquaintance – with true-life, ordinary details that build up almost imperceptibly to something outrageous – even listeners who hear it as fiction often play along and act as though they believe it to be true.
In the rules for the Toastmasters Tall Tale Contest, one of the event’s primary goals is listed as “to provide participants with the opportunity to create an original, highly improbable, humorous tale.” Before you throw your hat in the ring, here are a few suggestions to bear in mind:
First and foremost, the tall tale must be a
story, that is, a sequence of related events with a beginning, middle and end,
characters and action. It can’t just be a shopping list of absurd details. That
said, it doesn’t have to follow a particular structure. It can be based on
traditional tales you’ve heard; on actual, if unusual events; or on your own
Here’s an excerpt from a tall tale called
“Mississippi Mosquitoes,” retold by S.E. Schlosser, on
Tall tales should come across as stories of the common people, not highbrow literary creations. It’s helpful to speak in short, simple sentences, with pauses, vocal variety, variations of rhythm and timing, and all your other good speaking skills. Make your images sharp and easy to imagine. Use comic understatement. That is, when you say something absurd, don’t overplay it; let the details speak for themselves. Overall, remember, your goal is not to inform, inspire or touch, but to amuse.
( Extracts from the article " Tall tales are Tall order" by Caren S. Neile, Ph.D., ATMS, directs the South Florida Storytelling Project at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. An ATMS and a CL in West Boca Toastmasters, she is 10 feet tall and wins first, second and third place in every contest she enters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Really.)
Tall Tales Contest
The speech must be of a highly exaggerated, improbable nature and have a theme or plot. Humor and props may be used to support or illustrate the speech. Contestants must prepare their own three to five minute speech, which must be substantially original. The subject for the Tall Tales speech shall be selected by the contestant.Contestants are encouraged to work out of the Advanced Communication Humorously Speaking or Storytelling manuals when competing at any level and receive a written and verbal evaluation for speech credit. Contestants can also use the projects