Making small talk is one of those things that no one likes, but everyone has to do. Kalina Silverman decided to ditch the tradition and dive straight into a big question instead. It's one of the most effective ways to get over the discomfort of small talk.
Instead of talking about the weather, Silverman framed one question that everyone has an answer to:
What's the one thing you want to do before you die?
Yes, it takes you out of your comfort zone, but that's the whole point. Small talk is uncomfortable because it's uncomfortable for both parties. Instead, asking a big question that actually requires a thoughtful response breaks the ice and the conversation gets more real.
Silverman experimented by trying out this question on several people. To her surprise, everyone was willing to talk in detail about it. It's personal enough without being too personal, and you can gauge the other person's interests more clearly too. It's a little out there, but it's effective.