Keeping a transcript has always been an essential part of business meetings. While remaining "in the moment" can be beneficial, having an accurate record of each person's words makes any meeting more valuable and productive. Comprehensive notes also fill in interested parties who can't attend.
Today, you don't have to designate a note-taker or spend time during a meeting writing notes. Artificial intelligence technology can automatically turn meeting audio into a written transcript in real time. This technology comes packaged in handy software applications you can pay for by the month. Two of those applications are Otter AI and Fireflies AI, each with strengths and weaknesses.
What Is AI?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. This trendy acronym has been all over the news as a tool for writing high schoolers' papers, making art, and even composing music. AI refers to any program that allows a computer to perform tasks that require a higher level of "thinking" than typical applications.
Despite bold claims from AI companies and supporters, AI can not replace the human touch completely. AI is currently best at simple tasks, such as summarizing large chunks of information, browsing databases for keywords, or transcribing audio to text.
What Is AI Note-Taking Software?
New software can use AI to take accurate notes in virtual or in-person meetings. This technology works by analyzing the sound waves on an audio file. The software can determine which sound wave patterns correspond to which spoken words. Pitch and speech patterns help the AI recognize grammar and who is speaking. The program can write a somewhat accurate meeting transcript or audio recording using all this information.
Unfortunately, this software is not yet one hundred percent accurate. Estimates vary between programs, but the average accuracy of an AI meeting transcript falls between 80% and 90%. This means you may have to go back to a part of the transcript that doesn't make sense and review what the person in the meeting said. It also means that AI-generated transcripts need a round of editing by a human to be presentable as business writing.
Some meeting note-taking applications have additional features that can make notes more useful. For example, they can export notes to other workflow applications or search a database of prepared materials for specific information during the meeting, similar to asking the well-known AI program ChatGPT a question. These additional tools can help streamline meetings and save time.
Otter AI Pros and Cons
One of the most popular choices for advanced note-taking software is Otter.ai. This simple application provides mostly accurate transcriptions of live meetings, video, and audio files. It integrates well with Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet platforms.
The pros of Otter.ai are its price point, ease of use, and straightforward features. Otter.ai joins meetings automatically and provides a better transcript than Zoom or Teams applications alone.
Otter.ai is one of the more affordable options for AI meeting transcription software. The basic version is free for up to 300 monthly transcription minutes and 30 minutes in a single meeting. From there, a $10 per month per user Pro plan increases the minute caps and adds additional perks such as AI search features. The business plan is $20 per month per user and includes unlimited transcription of any audio and video recordings.
The cons of Otter.ai are that it has fewer features than competing programs. It can only take notes in English, and it only integrates with the most popular virtual meeting platforms. There are limited options for organizing or exporting your notes in the application.
Fireflies AI Pros and Cons
Fireflies.ai offers a more extensive suite of features than Otter.ai and comes in at a higher price point. It's a good choice for teams who want to get a lot out of their meeting notes software. It is slightly more accurate on average than Otter.ai, with users reporting around 90% accuracy.
Some of the additional features this alternative program offers include:
Language options other than English
Meeting summaries at various levels of detail
Easy soundbite capture of critical points in a meeting
Improved customer support
Fireflies.ai provides more comprehensive features, but this software also has cons. It has higher monthly rates for its plans, a less useful free version, and a more complex user interface than Otter.ai. Some companies may prefer a more straightforward program.
Which Is Better Overall for AI Note-Taking Software?
Ultimately, the choice of meeting note-taking software comes down to the needs of each individual or team. Many people are happy with the accuracy and simplicity of Otter.ai. For those who appreciate extra features, more language options, and greater control over their meeting notes, Fireflies.ai can be a smart upgrade worth the extra few dollars per month.