With Video Conferencing, Remote Note-Takers May Soon Be Silent Observers at Your Next Meeting

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Logitech note takers use video conferencing

Who takes the notes at your meetings?

And I mean authoritative, accurate notes of what was discussed and concluded, something that can be passed on to absent colleagues and partners, something that can act as a touchstone for the duration of whatever project was under consideration.

If your workplace is anything like ones I’ve worked in, it’s usually an ad hoc arrangement left to whoever is best at collating bullet points.

Why shouldn’t such a specialized task be bestowed upon a specialist?

Video conferencing can bring in a remote professional only when needed. Someone who can record and organize the ideas as they flow. Someone who doesn’t need a full-time salary or even a glass of water on the conference room table.

Such virtual services already exist in some professional fields. Why can’t they exist in yours?

Video Conferencing Stenographers

Third-party companies are already providing minute-taking and meeting organization within the field where accuracy is perhaps most important–the law.

Organizations including Barkley Court Reporters and Accuracy Plus Reporting facilitate witness depositions through video conferencing and provide stenographer services that document every word in the exchange. Both companies do the traveling for their clients, setting up the testimonial side of the conversation and providing the tech to link up with legal experts back in their offices.

In addition to reducing the time-consuming travel legal teams must undertake to perform the critical pretrial process, these services may also increase the number of witnesses and experts their clients can consult by putting them in direct contact with people they couldn’t normally reach.

Such services go further than an office-based meeting would require, since they are actually responsible for the most important end of the conversation. But they set a strong precedent that an unrelated third-party can contribute to the record keeping of technical meetings.

Outsourced to Video

This new third-party guest at the next office meeting could attend as the sole video conferencing participant, watching over an otherwise orthodox in-room conversation, or as one of many remote callers. They could be booked in advance, perhaps only moments in advance should enough stenographers be on hand. This new temp agency could even exist totally online, with employees working from home and waiting on callers.

In the first arrangement, they’d be a silent partner, perhaps even unseen. With an unobstructed view of proceedings and, crucially, clear audio, this specialized member of the team could document for posterity and clarity everything that occurs within the room. It means no one has to pull double duty by contributing to and transcribing the meeting simultaneously.

Many video conferencing platforms offer full recording of live conversations, but this requires a time-consuming follow-up, as someone must watch the whole video and get the salient details down.

A video conferencing note-taker could prepare a transcript of the meeting as it happens, and have it drafted and shared among all who need to be included within minutes of the table being cleared.

Hardware to Meet By

If the outsourced stenographer is just one of many faces participating through a chat window, you’ll need to pay a little more attention to the video conferencing equipment you use.

You’ll definitely need to invest in quality noise cancellation tech to make sure your new workforce addition can do their job accurately. Essentially, the process filters out background noises, low rumblings, and high squeaks to make the spoken voice the focus of the video stream.  

It would also help to have a system that uses tracking technology to move the camera automatically toward whoever has the floor. Such features use an array of microphones to triangulate the location of a speaker and then autofocusing to zoom and pan until that person is center screen. It’s a great advantage for anyone trying to attribute thoughts to anonymous faces scattered across a video conferencing array.

The Video Conferencing Age

Sure, this kind of tech will cost you, but you’re going to need a quality video conferencing system to compete in the modern business world. A recent survey found 70% of people would rather meet via video call than in person.

That rising interest in video conferencing may, in turn, drive innovators to include features such as transcription and note-taking within video calling software and hardware.

As we mentioned, video recording is already prevalent, and there’s increasing movement in the field of automatic real-time audio to text transcription. No such service currently claims a 100% transcription success rate, but the essential ingredient to the perfection of such advances is time.

So perhaps it will be only a few years until every meeting we attend will be automatically recorded, transcribed, perhaps translated, and the notes disseminated to all and sundry in minutes.

Until then, a human being can take a seat behind a video conferencing camera and make sure all your team’s ideas, agreements, and decisions are captured accurately.

Image Source: Flickr CC User Maryland GovPics

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