Three summers ago, I started BIG TALK - a personal social research and video project. I wanted to be able to go out of my way to meet new people and skip the small talk, to have deeper conversations, and make more meaningful connections with them instead. I began with a video series.

I started by approaching strangers and skipping small talk to ask them the question: "What do you want to do before you die?"

I was surprised when people not only shared with me their deepest desires - but told me many moving life stories as well. Some of these conversations with initial strangers turned into friendships I still maintain today. Inspired by my experiences "making Big Talk," I wanted to share what I learned with others. So I edited the footage into a video I posted to YouTube.

"BIG TALK is about skipping small talk to make more meaningful connections with people."

Within a couple weeks, the video went viral when the Huffington Post and USA Today wrote about it. I soon received messages from people all over the world, who also wanted to "make big talk." This inspired me to pursue growing BIG TALK into far more than a one time video project. I made myself a promise that I'd work to grow BIG TALK into a global project that helps people create more meaningful connections in their lives. I started to experiment with some new questions:

1. How do we scale the concept of Big Talk beyond just videos using new media and technology? 

2. How do we enable strangers to skip the small talk and engage in meaningful conversations right away?

3. How do we build empathy across boundaries of external perceived differences through the power of sharing stories about our universal life experiences?

This website captures the work I have done so far to grow BIG TALK. Enjoy, and feel free to contact me!

You can also visit me at my personal website:

Awards and Media recognition for BIG TALK:

Kalina Silverman wanted to see what could happen if she approached strangers and skipped the small talk to have more meaningful conversations with them instead ... Over 1.2 million views on YouTube!

Some of the places and stories BIG TALK has spread to around the world:

Made with National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive.