Why make Big Talk when small talk is so much easier?

With technology, it’s easy to reach a million people all over the world, yet it’s hard to have a meaningful conversation with just one person. Face-to-face social connectedness is strongly associated with well-being and happiness, but heavy use of social media platforms is associated with feelings of depression, loneliness, lower life satisfaction, and social isolation. Learning how to make Big Talk encourages thoughtful interaction, active listening, and heightened empathy. This translates into better verbal communication skills, more meaningful relationships, and a greater sense of “mattering.”

Big Talk’s Goal

The goal of Big Talk is to enhance interpersonal communication, respect people’s differences while honoring the commonalities of human experiences, and serve as a platform to build empathy across boundaries of difference.


Four years ago, Kalina Silverman started Big Talk as a social experiment and video series while studying broadcast journalism at Northwestern University. When she first arrived at school, she met new people each day, yet still felt a sense of loneliness and superficiality that made her feel isolated and disconnected.

So, she tried skipping small talk, and immediately noticed she was making more meaningful connections with her peers. Encouraged by this reaction, she made a video, where she approached strangers and asked them the Big Talk question: “What do you want to do before you die?”

Kalina was surprised when people answered the question and shared their most personal and moving life stories. This openness gave Kalina the type of bond she was missing with small talk, and her interactions with strangers turned into friendships she still maintains today. To share her Big Talk experiences, she edited the footage and posted the video to YouTube. Within a couple of weeks, the video went viral and the Huffington Post, USA Today, Business Insider, and Right this Minute wrote feature stories about Big Talk.

As stories and feedback began pouring in from people around the world who also felt frustrated with small talk, Kalina was inspired to grow Big Talk into more than a personal passion project, but rather into a global social impact initiative that could help people communicate and connect around the world.

Kalina was invited to give a TEDx talk, “How to skip the small talk and connect with anyone.” It now has over 6,000,000 views on YouTube, and has encouraged widespread movements. Big Talk events have been organized globally – in Thailand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Australia, Kazakhstan, the U.S, and more. She 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, Kalina travels around the world making videos, delivering lectures, and leading workshops about how people can “make Big Talk,” – at work, with friends and family, with strangers, and even by themselves – to make their everyday lives more purposeful and meaningful. Most recently Big Talk was awarded a Fulbright research grant for the study “How to use Big Talk to establish empathy across cultures.”

Meet the team

Kalina Silverman


Kalina created Big Talk. She travels globally to make videos, give lectures, and help teach people how to “make Big Talk” in different environments and cultures. Kalina received her degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University and just returned from a year working as a Fulbright Research Scholar in Singapore studying ways to use Big Talk to establish empathy across cultures.

Skip the small talk: What do you want to do before you die?

“Before I die, I want to build a ranch that employs refugees fleeing conflict zones and provides fun educational opportunities for visitors. I also hope to raise a family, paint a mural, and compose music.”

Leigh Miron


Leigh’s background is in management consulting. She helps her clients improve their business operations through business process re-engineering, process improvement methodologies, and performance measurement capabilities. Leigh graduated from Georgetown University where she studied Human Biology and was a coxswain for the men’s varsity rowing team.

Skip the small talk: What makes you feel really alive?

“Latin dancing! After I had 3 hip surgeries at 14 years old, I started dancing as a more functional and exciting form of physical therapy. I used it as a creative outlet, and as a way to build strength and flexibility. Since then, I developed a deep passion for dancing. While I love to be on the competition floor, my friends would also tell you that I can be found aimlessly dancing around the room at any given moment.”

Learn how to skip small talk at your workplace.
Holler Box