On August 22, the George Sutton Toastmasters club will be conducting its club Evaluation and Tall Tales competition. Since we usually have the Evaluation and “Humorous Speech” contest this time of year, I’d like to provide an introduction to what a Tall Tales contest is and describe a basic outline of what makes a “good” tall tales speech, fit for winning a Toastmasters competition. Then I’ll provide one of the best examples I found on YouTube for you to analyze and emulate in your own speech preparation.

Why Do We Have a Tall Tales Toastmasters Contest?

When someone asks me about details related to the Tall Tales contest, the question usually involves “Paul Bunyon” in the sentence. “Are we supposed to come up with a ‘Paul Bunyon’ type of fable?”
It took me a while to figure out how to answer that question. The answer is yes and no. Yes, in the fact that the objective is to use your imagination and develop and present a story you’ve created that has exaggerations and twists and turns. “No” because there is supposed to be a point to your story.
Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of public speaking. Not only do stories keep your audience glued to your message, but the process of creating stories takes time, patience and diligence. Once you become skilled at developing stories and presenting them, you will be much more able to make higher quality presentations at work. Even though you might not use a fictional story when presenting your latest architecture design, you will find that your experience in the Tall Tales competition would help you present the details of your architecture design work to your clients and firm, for example.
My point is that you should approach participation in the Tall Tales competition as an opportunity to practice your detailed story development and presentation skills. This opportunity will increase your speaking skills in other types of speeches, not just the next time you tell a humorous, exaggerated, make-believe story.

Basic Rules of the Tall Tales Speech Contest

  • Time is 3-5 minutes, plus or minus 30 seconeds. So you really have to whittle down your story to the most important points
  • Must be an original story with original content. Best to use something that happened to you so you’re not suspected of copying an existing story
  • ANY members (who are not district officers) in good standing can participate. The “International Speech” contest held every winter has eligibility requirements, but not the Tall Tales competition. So, every member is eligible to participate. No exuses!
  • There is no topic limitation. You can choose any topic you want your tale to be about. It just has to be original. So, no adapting from a children’s story book.
  • Humor and props may be used and are even suggested to illustrate the story.
  • Do NOT prepare a written introduction as only your name and speech title will be announced when you are introduced

Tips to WIN a Tall Tales Contest:


  1. Have a small 10-20 second introduction to your story so that people know where you’re going with it
  2. Plan a story plot that stays on track that people can follow
  3. Create a build-up in your story to a climactic point
  4. Use a TON of exaggeration that will naturally bring humor
  5. Have pauses to give people time to laugh and breathe
  6. Try not to yell at your audience as many of the samples I saw on YouTube had a lot of yelling
  7. Describe details to the point where the audience has a picture in their minds of what’s happening
  8. Include surprise twists in your story to throw the audience off guard and so that things happen that are unexpected
  9. Tie-up your story with a final point as you would any speech
  10. Leave ’em laughing paint a picture in our minds of a story with details so that we can picture it

Good Sample of a Winning Tall Tales Toastmasters Speech

Here’s a good example of a Tall Tales Toastmasters speech that has all of the components as listed above.

Have you participated in a Tall Tales contest? Tell us your experience here and share your knowledge. Any tips to add? Add them here and make sure to include what club you’re with and a link to your club website for some reverse promotion!