In 1984, a toxic gas leak in Bhopal, India killed nearly 3000 people. The tragedy was terrible. So was the seeming incompetence of so many high Union Carbide functionaries, who were paraded before the camera. They appeared never to be able to get their stories straight.
As Reid Buckley watched these decent men squirm and fumble, he thought how unnecessary that humiliation was. He began testing a workshop to teach executives how to express themselves with poise under duress. The result four years later was the opening of the Buckley School.
- Absolute Candor: People pay to know exactly why they fail to communicate as public speakers or one-on-one.
- Total Sympathy: We have all been there, we have all suffered from similar nerves and other problems.
- Tact: Nobody enjoys being made a fool of; all instruction is gentle.
- Patience: Some people are not natural verbalizers, but everyone can be taught to be better than he or she was.
- Personalized Instruction: One-on-one, hands-on – seeking to dig out of each student what is idiosyncratically his or her special talent: there are no templates in public speaking, what’s right for one person may be wrong for another.
- <Practice: Students are on their feet speaking, because the only way to learn is to perform.
- Nothing Short of Excellence: Entreat, beseech, coax, beg, blandish, implore, exhort, cajole, badger, compel students to surpass themselves, because only by reaching for the stars can anyone hope to scale the heights.
Drawing from lessons Mr. Buckley has learned through forty years of professional speaking and debating, the curriculum uses active polemical confrontation as a teaching tool. For many, this is their first experience preparing a case they must defend, and the Buckley School faculty provide materials, strategies and support. Almost without exception, conferees find that team camaraderie and competitive fire combine to elicit the finest speaking performances of their lives.
At the Buckley School, students receive intensely personalized instruction. Hands-on coaching by Mr. Buckley and his faculty helps students identify and correct problems on the spot. Mr. Buckley believes that persuasion begins in powerfully marshaled thought, and thus great speaking begins with good writing. Though practice in extemporaneous speaking is part of the curriculum, the Buckley School encourages speakers to work from prepared texts and shows them how to craft and rehearse speeches.
Located in Camden, South Carolina, the Buckley School offers not just a different method of teaching but an unexpected environment for training. Camden has long been a winter destination for the Thoroughbred horse set and a home to the Buckley family. Classes take place in an historic house on Camden’s main street. Conferees join Mr. Buckley for cocktails and drinks at some of the town’s Revolutionary War landmarks. Here, Conferees are removed from the hustle of the corporate world and can devote themselves to the demands of the Buckley School in a gracious Southern setting.