How to make Zoom better with automated meeting transcriptions

Otter offers a useful tool that creates transcriptions colleagues can comment on while you speak (and they can be accessed and shared after a meeting has ended).

Otter is already one of my favorite utilities – I find it invaluable in my work. Now it’s developed a new feature that turns it into an essential tool for Zoom meetings and makes it useful for any enterprise seeking solutions for hybrid meetings.

Transcription while you talk

Available to Otter Business users, Otter Assistant offers the same automatic transcription tools we already use, but links these to Zoom. The app integrates with your Google or Microsoft calendar, which means it can automatically join your meeting, create transcripts of what takes place, and share these with others at the meeting or anyone else on the distribution list.

The Assistant can also join meetings hosted by others, as when it is enabled to do so it will automatically join the meeting on your behalf. This is particularly useful when people don’t necessarily need to take part in the entire meeting but could still use some overall insight. It’s also helpful if you are focused on the discussion, rather than keeping notes. (You can even send your assistant when you can’t make the meeting.)

Send the assistant so you can do something else

Sam Liang, co-founder & CEO of Otter.ai puts it this way: “You can send your Otter Assistant to meetings on your behalf so you can focus on what’s most relevant without worrying about missing anything.”

[Also read: 7 Zoom tips for working from home]

The company hired YouGov to gather feedback concerning Zoom meetings from more than 2,000 remote workers. It found that 42% have experienced Zoom fatigue since the pandemic began and discovered 26% of people think meeting notes should always be shared with attendees. It doesn’t reveal how many are aware of all the available Zoom keyboard shortcuts.

What can you do with Otter Assistant?

Notes created can be annotated in real time, including the addition of highlights, comments, and images. The app also lets you create a custom vocabulary to accurately identify industry metalanguage and jargon. 

The tool is enabled in the meeting schedule (Otter calls this ‘My Agenda’) in your app. Beside each meeting you’ll find an Auto Join button; enable this and then tap the add to Live Meeting control, add the Zoom meeting link, and Assistant will automatically join the meeting.

The meeting transcript includes highlighting and sharing tools, and lets you share to pre-defined workgroups or individuals on an ad hoc basis.

Talk, transcribe, and take notes

What’s useful about this is that you and your colleagues can highlight sections of the meeting and add comments to the transcription as it takes place, making it a little easier to flag misunderstandings or future action points. This is a real pain point in video collaboration. I frequently come across meetings in which adequate records are not kept or actions lost within the hubbub.

It’s also possible to work with the transcript after the meeting, highlighting sections of the document, adding images and so on. Notes can be exported to other formats, including PDFs for post-meeting processing and analysis.

A growing trend

Other applications aim to create transcripts from within Zoom – one glance at its marketplace shows more than 30 alternatives, so it’s a matter of personal choice and which languages the tools support.

As an existing Otter user, I find the transcripts it makes quite accurate, and this is true with Assistant. (Office 365 users are probably already aware that Microsoft Teams also has built-in transcription.)

FaceTime users? No such luck.

You can access Otter Assistant online through a web browser or with iOS/iPad app (that also works on M1 Macs). A Chrome extension and Android app are available.

Otter Business costs $20/user/month.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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