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Have you ever voted with your feet?  “This movie is horrible, I’m out of here,” you might say—and you’ve just voted with your feet.  Or, you might vote with your feet in a positive way at a rock concert—by standing up and dancing, you’re saying, “I love this music.”

On December 2, 2010 at our Ann Arbor Toastmasters and Friends meeting, Debbie Merion urged everyone to vote with their feet for Lori Harris, who was sitting quietly in the last row of the meeting.  We couldn’t vote for her for Toastmaster of the Year—an award she had recently won—but we could vote for her as “Queen of the Day” with a rousing standing ovation.

Debbie was urging on her fellow toastmasters while delivering a persuasive speech for the Competent Communicator manual, so a little proof was in order.  What had Lori actually done?

To receive the Toastmaster of the Year award, Lori had actually been recognized as having the year’s most valuable contribution to District 28, which includes parts of Michigan, Ohio and Ontario.  Lori formatted and distributed multiple directories of officers and members, not a small task for a huge district that includes 120 clubs, 700 officers, and over 2,000 members.

But that’s not all.  For the last two years, she had been instrumental in creating the printed programs for the District 28 conference, and this year saved the district $500 by getting an excellent printing quote.  No small chunk of change!

There’s more.  She also created the “First-Timers” manual for all who attend the District 28 Conference, based on helping others avoid replicating her own –“less than optimal” first-time experiences.  As she recounted, at her first district 28 conference Lori was twice in severe danger of being arrested by the fashion police –once for wearing business attire when others wore casual clothes, then switching to casual clothes the next day only to find that people were spiffed up in their business best!

Lori hadn’t been able to make it to the District 28 meeting last month to receive her award, so after Debbie persuaded everyone to vote with their feet with a standing ovation for Lori, Lori came up to the front of the meeting and was crowned “Queen of the Day” at Ann Arbor Friends and Toastmasters, and also received her lovely “Toastmaster of the Year” award by Collyer Smith (Division C Governor), Kevin Olmsted (Area 13 Governor), and Annie Wolock (Club President).

“I encourage people to take advantage outside their home club by attending district and international conferences, in order to realize how vast the organization is, how friendly it is, and how it feels like one huge extended family. I think there is an opportunity for everyone to contribute and make it better,” said Lori, in her acceptance speech. “I feel like I should be giving Toastmasters an award for helping me to stretch and come out of my shell.”

The meeting became a festival perfect for a queen.  In our seven-minute intermission, chocolate cake was served, and then Table Topics provided all members with an opportunity to share their insights on success and personal bests.  Each toastmaster addressed their fellow toastmasters, honored guests (including Collyer Smith (Division C Governor), Kevin Olmsted (Area 13 Governor) and Mayna Shumacher of the Washtenaw Toastmasters Club) and of course, her royal highness.

Lori was delighted and surprised to be the focus of the meeting gala and a perfect queen: humble, exemplary and inspiring. “Let them eat cake,” she said, and brought home leftover chocolate cake and her crown to happily share with her daughter. Members went home exhilarated, and slightly sugar buzzed.

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