That Can’t Be True – Writing a Tall Tales Speech

That Can’t Be True! – Writing a Tall Tales Speech

Prepared by Bev Phillips DTM

A tall tale is a story with exaggerated untrue elements told as if it were true.

Toastmasters Tall Tales Contest

  • 3 to 5 minutes +/- 30 seconds
  • Original content
  • Everyone can participate except District Officers


  • Use lots of humour and exaggeration.
  • Begin with a 10- 20 second intro.
  • Have an easy-to-follow plot – buildup, twists, climax.
  • Describe clearly and vividly – paint verbal pictures.
  • End with a good conclusion that ties up the story.
  • Experiment with repeated phrases or gestures, and unusual movements or sounds (but don’t lose the element of surprise).
    • Remember – tell a story.

Ways to prepare:

Do Tall Tales in Table Topics at your club: Give speakers an implausible event and describe it as if it were true, or choose quotations and use them as punch lines for tall tales.

Write five recent frustrating situations in your life (spilled coffee, clogged drain, missed bus) and make up tall tales to solve them.

Examples of Tall Tales

  • Big Fish – 2003 movie directed by Tim Burton
  • The Secret of Roan Inish – 1994 movie directed by John Sayles

Thanks to “How to Tell Tall Tales” by Elizabeth Keogan, The Toastmaster magazine, August 2006


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