Three summers ago, I started BIG TALK, 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 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. 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. Later the story was featured on SoBadSoGoodRight this MinuteBusiness Insider GermanyLifehackerSouthern Chronicles, and more. 

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 many ways - all over the world. I started to experiment with some new questions:

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

2. What tools will help strangers skip small talk and engage in meaningful conversations right away?

3. How could Big Talk harness the power of sharing stories about universally lived experiences to help establish empathy across barriers of culture, geography, and physical identity?

I was invited to give a TEDx talk, "How to skip the small talk and connect with anyone." It now has 5,000,000 views on YouTube. This encouraged additional feedback from people inspired by the story. Since then, BIG TALK meet-ups and events have been organized globally - in Thailand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Australia, the U.S, and more. I also launched a Big Talk card game on Amazon (which was a featured Amazon Exclusives entrepreneurship product) that has been played by superstar celebrities such as Lorde and Keith Urban in a series launched by Universal Music Australia. The Big Talk card game has even inspired a marriage proposal!

Now, I travel around the world delivering lectures and leading events about how people can "make BIG TALK," - at work, with friends and family, with strangers, and even themselves - to make their every day lives more purposeful and meaningful. I've spoken at the Peter Thiel Foundation Summit, the U.S. Embassy Exchange Mixer, the University of Southern California, Northwestern University's Annual Yom Kippur service, the National University of Singapore, the SOGal Women's Entrepreneur Summit, the Fulbright Mid Year Conference in Malaysia, the PPIS Muslim Women's International Women's Day Event, and more. In the Fall, I am scheduled to hold Big Talk networking sessions.

Big Talk has won numerous awards including the Ozy Genius Award and a semifinalist award for McKinsey & Company's Undergraduate Women's Impact projects.

Most recently, I was selected by the U.S. Government as a Fulbright Research Scholar to Singapore to research "Bridging East West Communications through Big Talk" and "Evaluating Effects of Big Talk in Establish Empathy Between Singaporeans and Migrant Workers." 

This website captures some 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:

TEDX TALK w/ 5,000,000 + YouTube Views: “How to Skip the Small Talk and Connect with Anyone” - Kalina Silverman

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

Made with National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive.