Three summers ago, I started BIG TALK as a personal research and video project. I wanted to be able to go out, meet new people, and skip small talk to have deeper conversations, and make more meaningful connections with them instead. I began by making a video, where I approached strangers and skipped the 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.

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 more than a personal project. I promised myself I'd work to grow BIG TALK into an initiative that could help people in a variety of ways. I started to experiment with some new questions:

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

2. What methods will enable strangers to skip small talk and engage in meaningful conversations right away?

3. How can Big Talk help establish empathy across cultural boundaries by harnessing power of sharing stories about universally lived 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 International 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 four million views on YouTube!

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

Made with National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive.