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I’m a talker. Half-way decent listener as well, I hope.

And I INTENSELY dislike small talk. Small talk is the incessant chatter about nothing. The endless skimming of the surface. Where everything we say is inconsequential and instantly forgotten.

Yadda yadda yadda yadda.

Small talk exhausts me. I feel depleted after a round or two of blabber that at best kills time. It usually does so much more than that. It disconnects me from the other person. Disconnects me from my soul.

This is not merely an Achim thing. I had a bunch of chats recently with super-successful people who dread the social obligations that come with success. The award functions. The team outings. The business dinners. The dread, I am certain, is not a dread of the event. It’s the dread of endless rounds of inconsequential chatter.

BIG TALK is your alternative. And the more uplifting way.

I gave a talk at TEDxUSFSP in St. Petersburg, Florida last week. One of the joys of giving this TEDx talk was listening to other speakers who do inspired work. Tracey Garbutt is one such person. A student at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, Tracey is also the President and Founder of Big Sisters of Psychology, a campus organization that helps students to connect with each other in more meaningful ways while on their professional paths.

BIG TALK is one of the tools Tracey and her tribe use to forge richer connections. It is so disarmingly simple, that’s its beauty. First introduced by Kalina Silverman, BIG TALK suggests we skip the small talk when we meet someone and go right for the big stuff. Since many of us avoid BIG TALK as if it were an infectious disease, Silverman has created question cards to remind us of the sort of questions that invite BIG TALK. Some examples:

  • Where do you find peace?
  • What can you do today that you couldn’t do a year ago?
  • What do you miss?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • What is one question you would ask a fortune teller?
  • What is something you want to do before you die?

These questions elicit big answers. They speak to yearning and desire. They invite expansiveness and vulnerability. They foster BIG TALK.

BIG TALK is inherently invigorating. It energizes instead of depletes. It inspires instead of depresses. It gets us to our BIG common ground, shared dreams, bold purpose, better worlds.

Clear, right?

At TEDxUSFSP, Tracey’s tribe roamed the lobby before the event and engaged audience members in BIG TALK. Brilliant.

Silverman’s questions may not be the exact questions you would ask. Cool. Here’s my BIG TALK challenge for you. Before your next social obligation or business event, do some BIG TALK planning. Take a moment and craft 3 BIG questions you will weave into your conversations. No need to write them on a card. Know them. Try them out. Discover the sort of conversations they uncork. Be amazed.

I predict you will become a committed BIG TALKER. I mean, instantly committed.

Tracey’s and my TEDx talks will be released via the TED channel within the next two months. For instant inspiration, check out Kalina Silverman’s TEDx talk on this topic.

And start talking BIG. Please.