January 24, 2022

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Woman-Owned Black Enterprise Marks 30 Years Helping Blue-Chip Companies and Elite Athletes Speak With Impact

Woman-Owned Black Enterprise Marks 30 Years Helping Blue-Chip Companies and Elite Athletes Speak With Impact

Woman-Owned Black Enterprise Marks 30 Years Helping Blue-Chip Companies and Elite Athletes Speak With Impact

Denise Harrington and Tiger Woods

This photo of Denise Harrington and Tiger Woods appeared in the December 1996 edition of Sports Illustrated.

Thirty years later, we have worked with dozens of companies, hundreds of executives, and thousands of professionals. Who would have thought that 30 years ago a small, black, women-owned business, would become a force to be reckoned with in communications?

To become an inspirational leader, one must pass through challenging moments in life to center your story and drive your power. For Denise Harrington, CEO and founder of Speaking With Impact, that first happened on stage at a major corporate business event in 1991. Denise was six months pregnant with her first child and her on-stage presentation that day was being made to a group of Fortune 500 companies and a high-profile sports industry leader, Nike. It was an audience strongly seen as male-dominated and not easy to influence.

That day, from a single speech, she secured three key corporate clients. To say she knocked it out of the park would be an understatement.

“As soon as I stepped off that stage, I knew my mission would be to help professionals transform their careers and lives by training, consulting, and coaching them on the principles of speaking with impact,” reflected Denise. “Thirty years later, we have worked with dozens of companies, hundreds of executives, and thousands of professionals. Who would have thought that 30 years ago a small, black, women-owned business, would become a force to be reckoned with in communications?”

Denise has helped individuals become confident, high-impact executive speakers at the C-suite level in some of the largest corporations in the world. One of her biggest clients, Nike, trusted her to work with their premier athletes to help them represent the brand with impact. After all, the skills that lifted them to the top of their sport are vastly different than those required to speak with ease.

Her clients have included Tiger Woods, Nike founder Phil Knight, nine-time Olympic track-and-field medalist Carl Lewis, Dawn Staley, and the Portland Trailblazers. Along the way, she has earned a spot as a global influencer in the public speaking coaching industry.

Mother-Daughter Team

Now let’s fast forward. Coming full circle that same first-born daughter, Nia Harrington, joined the company four years ago as a communication coach and is now senior operations director with her eye on taking the firm to the next level. Under Denise’s mentorship, she has become a leadership and communications expert in her own right and is now a rising partner in the business. In her mother’s footsteps, Nia has worked as a keynote speaker with the Washington Football Team, interviewing the first African-American quarterback to win a Superbowl, Doug Williams. Every year she connects with her alma mater, George Mason University, to help prepare young professionals to pursue careers in the sports industry. Nia is keen on working with large corporations to help them pivot to the next phase of communications in the digital era. Together, the mother-daughter team takes innovative state-of-the-art training to their global clients.

Change With the Times

At the time Denise launched her firm in 1991, overhead projectors and flip charts were the norm, VHS tapes were standard, and speakers still thought they had to be in the same room to make an impact. Today, Denise and Nia Harrington champion virtual presentations. Not only have they embraced Zoom training for their own business, but they also teach leading firms to leverage virtual speaking to its full potential.

“Some people say you have to be there in-person to make an impact, but I disagree,” said Nia. “You can connect meaningfully and powerfully because you are talking to people in their native environment, where they live and breathe. You can reach your global partners without the hassles, fatigue, and expenses associated with travel.”

“Connecting with your clients and delivering your company’s brand message doesn’t have to stop because you are not face-to-face,” she added. “Using virtual platforms is effective today and can be in the future.”

In addition to major sports industry figures, Speaking With Impact’s clientele has included CEOs and C-Suite executives from Autodesk, Siemens, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, McDonald’s, Ubisoft, CommScope, Cisco, and more.

“Denise is an exceptional communications speaker and coach,” said Jim Sheriff, former SVP of Worldwide Sales at Cisco, who worked with her for over five years. “She helped prepare me for my most important mainstage presentation to approximately 2,000 global participants. Her guidance in stage delivery and on content creation was masterful.”

You are invited! Register for Speaking With Impact’s virtual celebration of our 30th Anniversary at 11:30 a.m. EDT (UTC-04:00) on September 30, 2021.

About Speaking With Impact

Speaking With Impact is a certified Woman and Minority-owned business that specializes in training on how to be “main stage ready”, presentation skills, speaker coaching, executive coaching, and crisis communication. A preferred communication and public speaking training company with more than 30 years of experience in the international business community, it works with diverse clients as a boutique firm focused on its customers’ unique needs. Denise Harrington is a sought-after keynote speaker and host of the podcast Women Express, which focuses on women finding, using, and strengthening their voice.

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