Baruch hosts its signature ‘Stage vs. Fright’ event

Dani Heba, Copy Editor

Professor Heather Schultz Gittens, an adjunct lecturer in communications at Baruch College, partnered with the Baruch Office of Health and Wellness to bring back their signature “Stage vs. Fright” in-person event on the afternoon of May 10.

The interactive event was designed to help students overcome their fears of public speaking by focusing on mindfulness and its applications to public speaking, reducing anxiety and understanding one’s fears.

“All of you have voices, and if you haven’t found your voice yet, don’t worry because public speaking is a lifelong journey and I’m devoted to helping all of you find your voices,” Schultz Gittens said to kick off the event.

Following an introduction of herself, Gittens began the discussion around mindfulness by emphasizing the importance of putting yourself first. She said she looks at self-care and health on four levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Schultz Gittens stressed the importance of looking at being nervous as knowing that you care about doing a good job on your presentation or any other task.

“The butterflies in your stomach just show that you want to do a good job, that you care,” Schultz Gittens said. “I want all of you to get to the point where you want to come up in front of the room and you want to give a presentation, and someday you might want to do a TED Talk.”

She then instructed the audience to write a fear they have about surrounding public speaking on a piece of paper. After a few minutes, Schultz Gittens told everyone to rip up their papers to release their negative thoughts and fears surrounding public speaking.

Audience members were then instructed to write a positive goal on public speaking and to write that goal on an index card before their speeches to help improve and focus on those goals.

Following this, Schultz Gittens stressed some key tips for public speaking, including grounding oneself on stage to feel stable and secure at all times during their presentation.

She then discussed the four-seven-eight breathing technique, which requires one to hold their breath for four seconds, hold it in for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds. This is meant to alleviate stress and have a calming effect on the user.

Joyce Allison, the associate director at the Office of Health and Wellness, and Giselle Gutierrez, a peer advocate for wellness services, then went over two dimensions of wellness, spiritual and intellectual, and stressed that their office uses these dimensions and others in their work.  “With these dimensions of wellness, all of them need your attention for you to truly flourish,” Allison said.

Following this, Schultz Gittens asked the audience to answer two writing prompts, which asked them about when they hold back their truth and why it is important to them that their voices are heard.

After having everyone consider their answers, Schultz Gittens led a throat chakra, a form of meditation meant to help relax oneself and build confidence and calmness.

To close the event, Schultz Gittens had everyone work with their peers at the table they were sitting at to bounce elevator pitches to each other, emphasizing it as an important skill that even she did not learn until her late 20s.

“This is an essential skill that all of you need to have, no matter what industry you’re in,” Schultz Gittens said.

The Office of Health and Wellness offers a variety of services to assist students’ physical and mental well-being. It can be found on Instagram and Facebook under @baruchpaws, where it updates students regularly about events and services it is hosting.