Automate meeting tasks with these tools

By Byron Patrick, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Q. I run many meetings, which makes it difficult for me to take notes at the same time. I also don't like burdening others with taking notes, and it takes time to transcribe from recordings. Do you have any suggestions for a technology solution?

A. Ever notice how at least one important task gets missed in those Zoom calls? It's nearly impossible to give the attendees the attention they deserve during the meeting, clearly dictate what tasks need to be done, and keep track of who's doing those tasks.

Going beyond just transcribing, meeting bots have grown in popularity and functionality over the last several years, and for good reason. With voice recognition, wide application integration, and customizable user interfaces, these software tools are worthy of consideration for anyone regularly running virtual meetings.

Fireflies.ai

Fireflies.ai is a great tool for remote meetings because with automatic recording and transcription of calls in Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Skype, Teams, WebEx, Zoom, and more, you can rest assured that Fireflies works with your conference software of choice.

The software also integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) tools such as HubSpot and Salesforce. This gives you up-to-date information for all of your contacts, including the option to have the transcription added directly to the contact's notes in your CRM.

Also of note, Fireflies can sync with your Outlook or Google calendar to automatically record and transcribe anything scheduled on your calendar. No need to worry about setting everything up. Just join as you normally would, and you're all set.

Notable features: Fireflies provides unlimited storage of transcripts and recordings, 2,000 minutes of transcription per month, and seamless searching of any meeting.

Cost: While free versions are offered, the Business tier that has the features you really want can be a bit pricey, depending on the size of your team, at $29 per month per user (or $19 per month per user if paid annually).

Otter.ai

Another great option for transcription is Otter.ai. The features in this software match up fairly well to Fireflies, including real-time transcription, recording, and playback ability. However, where Otter really shines is in the ability to create professional-looking reports of the meetings you have.

Otter allows you to edit, highlight, and even add photos to your transcriptions. These can then be shared via Otter's cloud storage with your team for further editing or can be shared via export options such as PDF, DOCX, and SRT.

Slick features, including the ability to manage users, automatically skip silence, and add customized vocabulary such as names or proper nouns, show that Otter is more than just a transcription service. While the integrations aren't as deep as Fireflies, the export and editing options show that Otter is meant to create meaningful and presentable documents for your team.

Notable features: Cloud storage and sharing provide easy access for your whole team. Folder structure makes organization easier. Detailed editing, along with advanced exporting, allows for more presentable results.

Cost: While the free version offers a bit more than the equivalent from Fireflies, the Pro version is $20 per month per user.

Overall, some may cringe at these monthly subscription prices, but you can save some money by paying on an annual plan upfront, and considering how many hours are wasted trying to pick up the pieces of your virtual meetings, I'd say it's money well spent.

Just need the transcription?

If you're not looking to integrate with your calendar or CRM, and just need a solid transcription of your latest meeting or webinar, these transcription tools are good options.

Rev

While most transcription services rely on artificial intelligence that transcribes from a limited vocabulary and sometimes mistakes nonword utterances (e.g., "um," "ooh," and "aah") for actual text, Rev uses a team of professional freelance transcriptionists, captioners, and translators to provide professional and complete transcriptions. That and secure, pay-as-you-go pricing make Rev a top choice for transcription services.

Notable features: Human transcriptionists ensure that your document is presentable with a 99% accuracy guarantee. The average turnaround time is one day.

Cost: At $1.25 per minute, Rev can be expensive for longer meeting transcriptions.

Sonix

If you need that text transcription in full as soon as possible, Sonix provides a fairly accurate option and also offers translations into over 30 languages. It's not as accurate as the human touch in Rev. What you gain in time, you lose in accuracy. When cost and timeliness are more important than accuracy, go with Sonix.

While they are not a part of the transcription service, Sonix does offer higher-tier packages that include features like automated subtitles for your videos using its own software. This is a handy feature for anyone publishing webinar recordings to the web.

Notable features: Get complete transcriptions in minutes. Translations are available for more than 30 languages. Cheap per document pricing or pricier subscription models with deeper features are also available.

Cost: The pay-as-you-go model is the same as Rev's but cheaper at $10 per hour.

Real-time captioning

Every team is different, and while many of us have settled into our roles as remote workers, some are facing new challenges. Take, for example, those with hearing impairments. It is easy for many of us to see these transcription and meeting bot features simply as nice features to have that will save us time, but many rely on these types of captioning systems for so much more.

Work with your team members to get them exactly what they need to perform their best. Google has positioned itself as the clear leader in real-time captioning. Others such as Zoom and Teams offer real-time captioning but not at the level Google provides. If a client or someone on your team has hearing loss, consider having those one-on-one calls on their platform of choice.

Google Meet is free and can help make life easier for those with disabilities.


Byron Patrick, CPA/CITP, CGMA, is vice president of growth and success at Botkeeper.

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