A new productivity tool seems to pop up every day, but I recently learned about one that could be a game-changer for my meetings. Otter.ai is a tool backed by artificial intelligence that takes notes at your meetings (whether online or in-person) and helps keep everyone you share with on the same page about what happened in the meeting. The free version is fairly robust, but if you use this tool for business, the paid features and additional transcription allotment may make a subscription worthwhile.
When you start to sign up for an account, it makes it look like you need to subscribe to a paid plan, but you don’t. When prompted, pick a meeting platform. When it states you need a subscription, click skip in the upper-right. This will bring you to your free account dashboard, where you are offered a tutorial.
What Can Otter.ai Do for Me?
The free account includes 300 minutes of recording transcription and only 30 minutes per conversation. After conversation transcription processes, you can:
- Edit the transcription, add highlights or comments, create action items, and insert images.
- Share the finished product with attendees or other stakeholders using a link with embedded view/edit permissions.
- Control whether users you have shared with can export your content.
- Create folders to organize your conversations.
- Export the conversation.
- Send direct messages.
- Create a group and invite collaborators.
Unfortunately, the scheduling integrations with Zoom and the creation of a workspace (team) require a paid subscription.
The home page is clean and simple, with menus at the top and left. The top menu includes options for starting a transcription.
The left menu can be expanded by clicking the blue arrow that appears when you hover near your first initial (or avatar).
- Access your conversations
- See what others have shared with you
- Manage groups and folders
- Direct messages
- Click on your account name to access all of the available settings for the tool.
After selecting a conversation from “My Conversations”, you can see the transcript in the main area, with a menu specific to that conversation at the bottom and additional options in the upper right.
- Use the edit link in the upper right to correct any transcription errors.
- Use the bottom left menu to control recording playback.
- Use the bottom right menu to highlight, comment, create an action item, or insert a picture at any point in the conversation.
- See additional conversation options, including delete, by clicking the three-dot menu icon next to the blue share button.
- Use the blue share button at the top to send view/edit links and control whether the conversation can be exported by others.
- When you use a meeting URL to record the meeting, it appears as a meeting participant. Depending on your meeting permissions, the Otter.ai user may not be admitted if you don’t have control of the waiting room or if meeting links are bespoke per user (as with some paid registrations).
- If there is going to be downtime in your meeting, you may want to end the recording so you don’t waste your minutes. You can always name the individual recordings to connect them as part of a larger meeting.
Otter.ai could be a valuable tool for any individual or group who doesn’t have an assistant or designee to take notes and follow up. Even if you do have a human who is tasked with keeping a record of meetings, having a transcribed recording leaves less room for interpretation or error.