What Is A Tall Tale

A short story, true or fictitious!

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WHAT IS A TOASTMASTERS TALL TALE

A contest in which contestants present a three to five-minute speech on a topic that is highly-exaggerated and improbable in theme or plot. Once you are a member in good standing, you can compete. There are no other pre-requirements. however, contestants who speak for less than two minutes 30 seconds or more than five minutes 30 seconds will be disqualified

Webster describes a tall tale as a “Narrative of events that have happened or are imagined to have happened.” It is usually a short story, true or fictitious. It could be a piece of information, gossip, rumor, falsehood or a lie. Today we call that “fake news”.

My first competitive tall tale speech contest was in 1999. I entered my first contest after completing four CTM – Competent Toastmaster Manual Speeches – with my speech entitle Hell’s Paradise. That speech took me all the way to District. One of the lessons I learned very early was since your speech must impress your audience as well as the judges, a good place to start is the judging criteria. I also studied the score sheets as I prepared my speech.  I would highly recommend that you pay close attention to the following:

SPEECH DEVELOPMENT: The way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. A good Tall Tale speech immediately engages the audience’s attention and builds to a conclusion. 30 Points

SPEECH TECHNIQUES:  Refers to the use of various tall tales skills, such as exaggeration, irony, pun, humor and surprise twists.  These techniques are the essence of making a tall tale successful. If you skillfully incorporate those techniques into your tall tale, you will be successful.   25 Points

APPROPRIATENESS OF LANGUAGE:  Refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech purpose and to the particular audience hearing the speech. Language should promote a clear understanding of thoughts.  Language should fit the occasion and be in good taste. 10 points

PHYSICAL:   Presentation of a speech carries part of the responsibility for effective communication. Body language should support points through gestures, expressions and body positions. 15 points

VOICE:  The sound that carries the message – Your voice should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good speaking voice can be heard and the words easily understood. 15 Points

LANGUAGE: Refers to the choice of words that relate to the story. Language should promote a clear understanding of thoughts and should fit the occasion precisely. Proper use of grammar and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words used. 5 points

IN DAYS OF OLD WHEN MEN WERE BOLD:  Tall tale narratives depicted the wild adventures of extravagantly exaggerated folk heroes. Those tall tales were essentially an oral form of entertainment that took audiences on an imaginative invention rather than the literal meaning of the tales.  Associated with the lore of the American frontier, tall tales often explain the origins of lakes, mountains, and canyons. They were spun around such legendary heroes as Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack of the Pacific Northwest; Mike Fink, the rowdy Mississippi River keel boatman; and Davy Crockett, the backwoods Tennessee sharpshooter. Other tall tales recount the superhuman exploits of western cowboy heroes such as William F. Cody and Annie Oakley.

MODERN DAY TALL TALES: Even if you never went fishing, we all have a fish story to tell. The one that got away or even the minion swimming in kid’s aquarium that was HUGE! Tall tales can be an event that took place on any given day in your life.  One of mine entitled “No U-Turn” tells the story of making an illegal U-turn one day on my way to work.   A cop stopped me and asked! I replied-BECAUSE THE SIGN SAID SO – officer  — (cop) Oh – Really – (me) Yes – I wanted to go straight and the sign said “ No .. U … Turn”.  When the cop decided to call for backup with a straight jacket, I had to confess that I was just a Toastmaster practicing my pauses and got a bit carried away – – which she was getting ready to do to me literally. Would you believe, she did not give me a ticket?  What a nice cop.  (Exaggerate!  Exaggerate!  Exaggerate! …That is the key)

Hell’s Paradise was another about companies that were dominating the software market in the eighties and nineties.  Now I do not want to name names but I am sure you too will get my drift even if you were not around back then. One of those companies was rotten to the core,  while the other’s view of the world was, in my opinion, a bit micro and soft.  On that premise, I built “Hells Paradise”.  Was I ever so wrong?  We all got googled by a company of ten, raised to the one-hundredth power. Go figure…  A play on words is also a good tall tale technique.

Look at your life and I am sure you will find many stories you can spin into a tall tale.  If you can get your audience to express that look that says – REALLY, NO. PERHAPS THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE; you are hitting your mark. Take your audience to the edge of the precipices and dare them to believe we are both going to jump but you must go first.  That is when you must give the moral of your story or leave them to figure out the “rest of the story” which is the life lesson we should take away from every Tall Tale.

The Heroine or Hero in your Story

Good Better Best Never let it rest until your good becomes your better and your better becomes your best – BigGeorge

 

american-hero1Every story should have a heroine or hero, however, if that knight in shining armor is always you, your audience will quickly turn you off. As my dad used to say, “there is nothing new under the sun”. Speak about your experiences, but also mention where when and how you got that bit of wisdom. That bit of information is always music to the ear of the listener. A fellow Toastmasters once told me every question that is unanswered in your speech becomes a distraction. I learned that painful lesson after a Regional Contest in Pasadena California.  There was so much more my audience wanted to know about the rest of the story.  I can still remember one of the most important I had to answer, “who would I say was heroine or hero in my story”.  That is one question your audience should never have to ask.

 

 

Humor Speech Writing & Delivery

Add Humor to Every Speech You Deliver

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1. People remember what they “see” in their minds. Keep that in your mind as you craft your opening. Craft your setup and followup with your punch line.

2. Begin with a Strong Opening with a theme that would resonate through the speech from the beginning to the end. – The scarlet ribbon effect.

3. Make the opening your Premise or theme of the speech – make it the foundation on which the speech is built.

4. Check your I to You- Ratio – Try to find a balance between the use of I and you.

5. We have experiences in our every day that are stories waiting to be told. In your everyday human experiences, you will find some of your best stories. Use them.

6. Use humor in your speech to make a point. Make a point, tell a story or tell a story to make a point. If the point can make your audience laugh, then you made your point.

7. Use follow-up lines (tagging) to provoke additional laughter or if laughter doesn’t follow what you thought maybe a funny line, tag it.

8. The punch-line is simply changing the expectations of your audience. Take your audience in an unexpected direction.

9. Don’t confuse your audience. A confused mind does not laugh. D. LaCroix.

10. Observe ordinary facets of life. With the right amount of observations, it can become your humor gold mine. Keep and maintain your own story file

USE SPEECH BRIGHTENERS TO CREATE HUMOR

A Speech Brightener is a passing humorous reference or an extraneous observation woven into the main body of a speech or remark in such a way that it doesn’t interrupt the continuity of thought.  A speech brightener differs from a joke in many respects. A speech brightener goes with the flow of the speech to emphasize the point the speaker is seeking to make. If the speaker says in his or her opinion something is foolish, they might add that it is as foolish as ……. and select a suitable analogy to emphasize his or her point that would introduce some welcome humor into the remarks. Usually, a speech brightener is fast and would normally catch your audience by surprise. It is a well know fact that surprise is one of the most important elements of humor.  Here are a few examples:

I am the kind of person or He is the kind of person or She is the kind of person

Who is often called a cynic –  I think other people are as bad as I am. 

Who may not always be right – but I am never wrong. 

Who believes nothing is impossible – if I don’t have to do it myself.

Develop your own speech brighteners. Use them especially in “table topics”. Your audience may see you as a kind of person who has more than meets the IQ.

COMPARISONS also make excellent speech brighteners: Here are some more starters: As  BAD As – As GOOD As –  As CONVINCING As – As FOOLISH As.….

 

10 Tips to Control Nervousness

A Prepared Speaker Should Never be Nervous:-Dr. R. Smedley

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Feeling some nervousness before speaking to any audience is natural and even healthy if you can channel that nervousness.  Some nervous energy can show that you are passionate and care about what you are presenting to your audience. Too much nervousness will detract from your performance.  Your physical preparation is a very important part of your Preparation and Practice.

10 Tips you can use to control your nervousness.

  1. Know The Room: Become familiar with the speaking are before you are called to speak. The view from the speaking are is quite different from the audience view or the view from the back of the room.
  2. Know You Audience: Meet and if possible greet some of your audience as they arrive. This can help you connect with them as you look out into the audience.
  3. Know Your Material: In the words of Dr. Ralph C Smedley “ A prepared speaker should not be nervous”. Nervousness will increase if you don’t know your material.
  4. Relax: Get on your feet, stretch a bit before taking to the stage.
  5. Visualize yourself giving your speech: Harbor positive thoughts. Visualize yourself being successful and you will be successful.
  6. Think Positive: Audiences don’t want you to fail. Smile and they will smile back at you.
  7. Don’t apologize: Don’t call attention to any of your slipups. Those slipups may very well have gone unnoticed.
  8. Focus on the message: When you focus on the message, your attention moves from your anxieties outwardly towards your message and your audience.
  9. Turn nervousness into positive energy: Add vitality and enthusiasm to harness your nervous energy.
  10. Gain Experience. Experience Builds confidence: Grasp every opportunity you get to SPEAK. Grasp every opportunity you get to EVALUATE. That is the key to becoming a better speaker.

How to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Record & Listen to Your Voice

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Do You Know The Sound of Your Voice

Tips on How to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Keeping your audience all begins with the sound of your voice. If you do not have any variety in your voice, you run the risk of sending your listeners to sleep. Your speech content may be excellent. It could match your audience’s needs very well but unless you deliver it in an interesting way, few people will actively listen.   A one-flavor-fits-all voice is boring. It turns people off. An expressive energized voice keeps them tuned in. Vocal Variety is very important when presenting. Record and listen to your voice.

What is Vocal Variety:

Vocal variety refers to the way we use our voice. It is a combination of the following elements: pitch, tone, volume, and rate. They are all equally important.

Pitch:

To understand pitch, think of the high notes and low notes you use when you are singing a song.  Everyone’s voice has a natural pitch – your natural speaking voice. Women’s tend to be higher than men’s. Everybody has a pitch range – the number of we notes habitually use. When that range is very small, the effect is monotonous.

Tone:

Tone refers to the emotional content carried by our voices. It is not the words themselves; it is more about ‘how’ we say them. To speak expressively is to fill or energize our words appropriately.

Volume:

How loudly or quietly you speak is called volume. Some people are habitually loud and others quiet, regardless of their speech content. Vary your volume as you speak. Think of it as if you are consciously playing with the volume control on a device. Silence is also very important. Silence sends the message. (DBrooks)

Rate:

The term ‘rate’ refers to speaking pace. How fast or slow do you speak? Speaking rate matters because how fast or how slow you speak alters the listener’s perception of your topic.

Exercises:

The more you can relax and enjoy playing with voice exercises which you can find online, the more you will get out of them. If you have a recorder, use it. Often what we think we are doing with your voice is very different from the reality. A recorder helps you hear where you need to put in more work to achieve your goals.

Are Your Making Your Case

Great Speeches are not written they are rewritten:  

Topic Selection:

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WHEN YOU DELIVER A SPEECH YOU ARE MAKING YOUR CASE

The topic you choose can decide your place in any speech competition. While you should choose a topic you are passionate about, keep in mind you have to connect with your audience to be successful. Connecting with your audience is important at all levels of competition. If you turn your Real Life Events into unique Powerful Stories using persuasion and the power of the spoken you will do well.    

Avoid the following:

  • Current events that were in the news media over and over.
  • Events that may have varied audience opinions  – So too will your judges.
  • Topics too big to be delivered in 5 to 7 minutes – Keep It Simple

Purpose:

The purpose of your speech should be clearly defined very early in your presentation.

  • Are you speaking to inform
  • Are you speaking to entertain
  • What do you want your audience to Think-Feel – Or Do after hearing the speech.

Don’t Tell Them–Show Them-Take Them:

  • Be descriptive – Use word pictures to convey your message
  • Be concise but clear – Every unanswered question becomes a distraction
  • Practice your personal stories and anecdotes so that they don’t sound rehearsed-Keep them real.

Have you ever tried to buy a piece of equipment from someone who doesn’t know how to operate it? Knowing your case also means knowing exactly what you are asking for and knowing when you got it. Be factual, where possible use statistics.  Do not overstate your case. You’ll undermine your credibility.

Lead with your strongest point or argument:

First impressions are indelible. Most Toastmasters speeches are 5 to 7 minutes. In your first minute, you can win over or lose your audience.  Give some indication of where you are going or taking them. Get your audience’s permission to take them

Communicate clearly and concisely:

Make brevity a part of your style.  The most celebrated example of brevity: The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes 270 words. Edward Everett delivered a two-hour oration before Lincoln’s 2 minutes of dedicatory remarks. Great speeches are not written they are rewritten. Write and then deliver or deliver and then write. Whatever your choice happens to be, write your speech – Focus on your choice of words.  Check to see if each sentence can be said in fewer words.

Your Delivery:

Everyone has a personal manner of speaking.  Be yourself.  Most people can process information only at a moderate rate. Find your voice. Don’t speak too fast or too slowly. Don’t try to sound like someone else.  Use strategic pauses for emphasis. Practice enunciating each word clearly.

Your Conclusion:

Your conclusion is just as important as your opening. Recall some of the main points of the presentation. Leave enough time to summarize and emphasize your take away message. The quality of your performance and not the trophy will determine if you have made your case.

Martin Joo’s Speech Registers

Be original -Be You
You are the Only You!

 

The concept of registers has been around for a long time. We use registers consciously or subconsciously in our everyday language. Register refers to the variations we use in language which reflects the particular situation, the expressed goal of the communication or the relationship between the speakers.  The following are Martin Joo’s five communication styles or Speech Registers.

Frozen:

Printed, unchanging language, ultra-formal, almost scripted phrases that do not vary. This is standard business and educational language which features complete sentences and specific word choice, often contains archaisms.  This style of communications RARELY or NEVER changes.

Examples:  The Bible, Pledge of Allegiance,  Preamble to the US Constitution, Lord’s Prayer, laws, “set” speech which is often scripted.

 

Formal/Academic:

One way communication, no interruptions, used in impersonal, formal settings, one-way in nature, follows a commonly accepted format – complete sentences, more complex syntax and specific word usages, exact definitions are important, technical vocabulary; often used to show respect. It is often used to show respect. Word selection is more sophisticated and certain words are always or never used depending on the situation.   Informal register, the story structure focuses on the plot: it has a beginning and ending, and it weaves sequence, cause and effect, characters, and consequences into the plot.

Examples: Rhetorical statements and questions, standard for work, school, public offices and business settings, speeches, pronouncements made by judges, announcements, introductions between strangers

Consultative:

This is a standard form of communication. Users engage in a mutually accepted structure of communications. It is professional discourse.  Formal register used in conversation.  Societal expectations accompany the users of this speech.  This register can be described as two-way participation, professional setting, background information is provided (prior knowledge is not assumed), interruptions and feedback fillers allowed (“uh-huh”, “I see”), more complex syntax, longer phrases.  Sentence structure need not be complete, since non-verbal assists, hand movements and body language, are often used to convey meaning.

Examples:  Doctor: patient, lawyer: client, lawyer: judge, teacher: student, superior: subordinate, counselor: client, colleagues, peers, when strangers meet.

Casual/Informal:

The language used in conversation with friends.  The casual register is characterized by a 400- to 500-word vocabulary, broken sentences, and interruptions common. Very informal language, idioms, ellipsis, and slang are common, no background information provided, “group” language – must be a member to use, interruptions common, context and non-verbal communication important, word choice in general, and conversation is dependent upon non-verbal assists.  The focus of the story is characterization.  It is an episodic, random approach with many omissions and does not have a sequence, cause, and effect, or consequence. Casual Register for a group of white suburban teenagers is quite different from the casual register of a group of African Americans, or a group of Native Americans.  There would be differences in vocabulary (slang), grammar, intonation and usage and the differences might be quite fluid, changing often.

Examples: conversations, chats, and blogs with friends and acquaintances, family, teammates.

Intimate:

These communications are private. It is reserved for close family members or intimate people. It is non-public, intonation as important as wording and grammar, often a private vocabulary full of codewords.  Interesting to note: this is the language of sexual harassment as well.

Examples:  husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, twins (siblings), pets

 

 

 

Visionary Communication

Make Your Good Better And Your Better Your Best

A Toastmasters Journey

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Public Speaking For All Occasions – From sun up to Sundown we communicate, some better than others. It is my hope that with this blog, we are able to raise an awareness to the importance of painting word pictures as we speak.  Over time, this type of communication will become a natural part of your everyday communication.  Come join me on a journey into the world of Visionary Communication.

Let us begin: A good place to start is by identifying your communication strengths as well as the areas you need to improve starting with your instrument – Your voice – have you discovered your tone of voice.  Your pace, your pitch and the importance of silence in your delivery. Silence sends the message.

Next, it is important to define your communication goals. What you want to achieve and how you will know when you have achieved it.  That’s when you move on to making each goal you have achieved permanent through practice.

  • Recognize the elements of a basic speech structure -Starting and ending strong.
  • Balance preparation and spontaneity in your delivery – Be natural – be you.
  • Demonstrate self-confidence – Make your speech a kind of silent conversation.
  • The ice-breaker worksheet is a good place to start – It is your roadmap to success.

ORGANIZE YOUR SPEECH

 The four elements of a good speech or story:

  • Interesting topic ( Your Anchor)
  • Opening – Strong -Direct-Positive
  • Body (V1 V2  V3 *V=Vignette)
  • Conclusion (Your Take Away Message)

Give your speech an opening, body, and conclusion to effectively communicate your overall purpose. When we communicate we must have a purpose. Also, we should begin to develop our own formula.  For Example, a formula for an ice-breaker could be – Where I was – Where I am – Where I am heading. The purpose is to begin revealing yourself to your fellow members.  You may want to share a little-known fact about your heritage or hobbies of yours.  Conclude with a funny or interesting anecdote that relates to your desire to become a better speaker.  Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with their first ice-breaker – a speech they will always remember even long after their journey has ended.