Eventually the most ardent tweeter, texter, and instant messenger must face, not Facebook, the truth.

"People have to talk to other people," says Matthew Goldberg, the Voorhees chapter president of Toastmasters International, which has been enhancing oral communication skills for 89 years.

Goldberg, 53, knows whereof he speaks. He'll be among six vying Saturday in Langhorne for a chance to become one of 88 finalists in a global Toastmasters speech-fest starting Aug. 21 in Cincinnati.

"There will always be a value placed on people expressing themselves with eloquence," says the Cherry Hill resident and self-published author, whose website, tipofthegoldberg.com, suggests he's on the way to making a career out of public speaking.

"Eloquence is being able to articulate a message and carry or share productively in a conversation," Goldberg says. "It's also about listening well, instead of thinking, 'What am I going to say next?' "

Not that this self-described Philly sports maniac and father of a 4-year-old son ("I started a family comparatively late") seems at risk of running out of words. He's a great conversationalist - witty, warm, and well-spoken.

"Five years of Toastmasters hasn't hurt," says Goldberg, whose late father, Robert, an editor at The Inquirer, also belonged to a Toastmasters club.

Toastmasters was established in 1924 and boasts a worldwide membership of 280,000. Professionals, blue-collar folks, and students over 18 who want to improve their speaking skills are offered tools to do so while social-networking - face-to-face.

Goldberg notes that in a competitive job market, Toastmasters' system of written and verbal exercises, group evaluations, and leadership challenges are useful to people seeking a job or promotion. Advice about avoiding jargon and constructing a piece with an opening, a middle, and a conclusion are essential to writing as well.

"Toastmasters builds self-confidence," says Jon Luckacher, 32, of Somerdale, who joined the Voorhees club three years ago and recently founded JonAlan PR, a public relations firm.

"It's easier these days for people to hide behind computers and smartphones. . . . One hundred and forty characters [the standard length of a tweet] would have been me a few years ago," Luckacher observes.

But even digital platforms such as Skype involve face-to-face contact and require clear diction. And spoken-word videos are almost as abundant on YouTube as cat sagas.

Indeed, any notion of Toastmasters as closet Luddites is shattered when the organization's president, John Lau, answers my inquiries via e-mail.

"People in their everyday lives as coaches, parents, and mentors also need good communications skills," he says/writes.

Toastmasters also has its own YouTube channel. And digital devotees who eschew "public speaking" as something one's Pop-Pop might do at a lodge meeting should consider the online video phenomenon of TED Talks.

These podcasts of pontificating hipsters and garrulous academics are slickly produced and typically recorded live - in front of an audience.

"It says that public speaking is kind of cool," observes Goldberg.

He feels confident about his speech Saturday, which enlivens the familiar metaphor of life being like a boxing ring with quotes from Mike Tyson.


That piques my interest. I want to hear more.

Which is rather the point of Goldberg's speech, if not of Toastmasters itself.

Because if no one is listening, the spoken word will disappear.