When we have crucial talks with people, 1-to-1 or 1-with-many, we can ask the usefulness question. To yourself or to others.
Crucial talks are talks that matter, that are truly important to you or the other(s).
They are best held face-to-face, using the ‘law of the 2 feet’: I am coming somewhere to meet you in person and exchange thoughts with you face-to-face.
If face-to-face is impossible for one reason or another, then talk by phone or by Skype. Preferably not by e-mail when stakes are high (e-mail can still be used as a follow-up tool).
You can ask the usefulness question:
BEFORE a meeting: how will I/we notice this meeting will be useful? What do I/we need to discuss for this meeting to be useful? What else? What is less useful to discuss during this talk? What should not be discussed at all?
DURING a meeting: is what we are discussing useful? What is useful? What else do we need to discuss for this meeting to be useful?
AFTER a meeting: what were all the useful things we’ve discussed? Did we speak about everything we wanted to? What else do we need to talk about?
What can we do more of in future meetings that we did today during our meeting? What should we do differently? What else?