skip the small talk stories

Here's what folks are saying about Skip the Small Talk:



Photo: Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe

Photo: Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe

"No worrying 'Am I being interesting enough and charming enough?' Just talk, and then listen."

Full article here.

Photo: Michael Goodman

Photo: Michael Goodman

The Outline

"The conversation took place at a gathering called Skip the Small Talk, which sold out of its 70 tickets at $10 apiece. Jumping off cue cards — 'What were your middle school and high school experiences like?' — the mostly young roomful of participants formed pairs and small groups to bypass the usual niceties and dive straight into topics both personal and sometimes confessional."

Full article here.

Photo: Michael Goodman

Photo: Michael Goodman


Poiesis Podcast

"There's this really deep need to fit in, and vulnerability is the opposite of that a lot of the time."

Full podcast here.


Interview with SOWN Newsletter

"Accept awkwardness as the entry fee to having deeper connections."

Full interview here.



Photo: Michael Goodman

Photo: Michael Goodman


Sam V.


"It was perfect because I got to get some DMC (deep, meaningful conversations) without having to stand in the kitchen over drinks at a party. I thrive off of this kind of thing because too often, we spent too much time passing by people without realizing that they too have their own story of how they got to where they are right now.


"So please! If you want to see people as more than characters that walk by you in your life, go. If you want a safe space to let down your guard about topics we *shouldn't* be talking about that you really want to talk about, go. If you want to be appreciated for being unapologetically you, go.


"Everyone should experience this at least once because it was that incredible."



Nicholas M.


"I found that the people I met had a variety of reasons for attending - simple curiosity, the desire to meet someone to form real intimacy with, the desire to make new friends, the desire to learn about themselves. In any case, they were ready to speak, and to listen. 


"The conversations I had were great, but I especially enjoyed being encouraged reflect on how I act in social settings. I normally try to make people laugh, or to draw them out, but that night, I felt an unusual freedom to try being someone else. In my case, I tried to be more personally invested in my interactions. Rather than trying to establish a comfortable sort of distance with humor or a position of control where I can guide a conversation to topics that are difficult for my partner, I tried to connect with how I truly felt about what we discussed. Even now I remember some of these conversations vividly, in a way which I haven’t experienced in some time.


"I have always wanted to give people experiences so beautiful that they change them. That’s the reason why I admire what you've created here."



Emily K.


"I had a great time at Skip The Small Talk! And I have to admit, I wasn't expecting to! I had heard a lot about the event, but it didn't sound like something quite up my alley. I love large social gatherings, and already have no trouble starting up conversations with new people at parties or whatnot, so I thought 'hmm, STST is a neat idea, but it's not really something I need practice at.'


"I will also admit that it was intimidating. I have no trouble chatting with people, but I was honestly a little scared by the idea of sharing such personal things with people right off the bat. It seemed like I'd be putting myself in such a vulnerable position. 'Hi, I just shook your hand, now let me tell you this super embarrassing thing about me.'


"But! I was pleasantly surprised! It turned out to be quite freeing and exciting to speak so frankly about myself to new people. It was actually a lot of fun to share such personal things, because they were all things that were important to me. Even though I had been nervous about telling people personal stories, it was great to have them smile, commiserate, laugh, and basically just to really feel 'heard.' I also had a lot more fun learning about other people than I was expecting! I honestly thought it'd be awkward, or at the very least turn into a serious, 'deep, meaningful discussion.' But it was genuinely just plain fun! A group of people having a friendly chat, but chatting about things they're actually invested in.


"I feel a lot like that party pooper who initially says, 'That game looks stupid,' but then once they give it a try, finds themselves enjoying it the most!"



Emily Z.


"In so many settings, there’s a very narrow range of things that you’re supposed to say. That really limits how much you can connect with people. It’s great to be somewhere where you feel like you can be more honest about how you feel."


Skip the Small Talk at Aeronaut


Shai N.


"I had always been terrible initiating and joining conversations in situations full of strangers. I never quite knew how. As such, my first Skip the Small Talk was in some ways a transformative experience. Ashley started off the event by dispensing advice and techniques on how to have more meaningful conversations right off the bat. And being in a situation where people were actively encouraged to talk to each other meant that it was trivially easy to have the kind of deep conversations I would normally never build up to in a strange setting. It felt fantastic.

"Better yet, even after the structured conversation part of the evening ended, the atmosphere of actively encouraging conversations between strangers continued. I felt free to join any conversation in progress or start a new one because I knew that everyone there was likewise looking to chat with new people. It gave me an opportunity to practice the conversation skills I had picked up, and increased my confidence in carrying conversations in the future.

"Most importantly, I met some fantastic people and formed friendships that have gone on to extend beyond the event. I have gone several times and plan to continue to attend Skip the Small Talk in the future."



Amanda L.


"It is hard not to be excited to be in a room filled with curious people who want to learn about and connect with other people. No surprise, I had a blast going to my first STST.


"One huge change that came from me going to STST was that I was not as worried to try and talk about larger topics with people on a day-to-day basis. This was because STST showed me that there really are a lot of people who want to get to know people better, and that it was easier than expected to have these conversations. I enjoy how at the end of each event, Ashley mentions ways in which you can easily avoid small talk at social events. Another huge change I experienced was the ways in which I listen to and talk with people.


"It is really cool to fully pay attention to how you communicate and see ways in which you can change that based on who you are talking with. Every time I go to a STST event, I feel like I learn something new and improve on my ability to communicate with others."



Roy S.


"So I went to this social event last night that a friend recommended. Had a good feeling about it after reading what it was about. Easily one of the best social nights I've had in recent memory. Definitely great if you consider yourself an introvert. Great way to meet new people and explore the dynamics of genuine conversations. Absolutely will be at the next one."



Ron L.


"As an ambivert who finds discussing weather and sportsball roughly as entertaining as watching snails race, I clicked on the link to find out more. As I read the description -- spontaneous but substantial conversation over craft beers -- I became equal parts excited and annoyed. Excited, because the concept was brilliant. Annoyed, because I hadn't thought of it first.


"I snapped up a ticket, as did several friends when I shared the event. As all of the STST events seem to be, it was a sellout. The evening was organized and well-run, with a variety of opportunities for connection in pairs and in groups using cards with various topics and open-ended questions. Confession: my first pairing happened to be with someone who was facing the exact same post-college challenges (and in the same field) that I once had, so we didn't actually follow the guidelines of the conversational flow. My hunch is that Ashley and her crew will forgive this [Note from Ashley: Yes, Ron, we forgive you!]; authentic, mutually-interesting, and consequential discussion was occurring between two people who had never met, nor otherwise would have. It doesn't get much better than that!


"I'd recommend STST for anyone like me, who likes making new connections but doesn't gel with most of the common ways of doing so. These events let you skip the cruft, and get to the good stuff. I'm attending another event in a few days with the same people as last time, as well as two first-timers. Do come say hello, and I promise not to say 'hey, looks like rain!'"

Photo: Michael Goodman

Photo: Michael Goodman