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Abstract

The literature has identified oral communication as a skill that employers desire of their workforce. Even though accounting and business education programmes place considerable emphasis on the advancement of communication competencies among students, not all students appear to benefit from communication skills development. This may arise from of a fear of communicating with others, commonly known as oral communication apprehension, a factor which inhibits an individual’s willingness to communicate in one or a number of contexts - one to one conversations, communicating in groups, at meetings and making a presentation in public – and which may inhibit development of effective communication skills. Prior studies have measured oral communication apprehension of students in different disciplines, and there has been some qualitative exploration of the phenomenon. This paper reports on study conducted in the School of Accounting and Finance, DIT. Levels of apprehension were measured for 368 students. The views of a number of students were received and analysed and compared to their oral communication apprehension scores. Some students who indicated that they found presenting extremely difficult were identified, and their views are reported. Their perspectives and fears demonstrate ‘the pain’ that many suffer when called on to present. The study concludes with a recommendation on a possible oral communications approach which could be adopted to help students to overcome fear of presenting in public.

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