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These 5 free apps will make your next meeting way more productive

From finding a time that works for everyone to capturing the proceedings, these cool tools take the pain out of meetings.

These 5 free apps will make your next meeting way more productive
[Photo: Charles /Unsplash]

The meeting: It’s been a necessary evil for just about every enterprise since the dawn of business. Scheduling hassles. Conference bridges. Agendas and minutes. After all these years—nay, decades—it still seems like we haven’t quite figured out how to cobble together a truly graceful meeting. We’re getting there, though. Here’s a quick list of apps and services that can make your next meeting a little less painful.

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1. Get everyone on board

Finding a time for everyone to meet is a thankless endeavor, especially when it comes to trying to schedule attendees outside of your corporate calendar system. There’s hope, though. Calendly (Apple, web) gets as close as reasonably possible to democratizing the process. Pick a handful of times that might work for everyone, send the tentative invite link out, and from there, invitees can pick which times work best for them.

The free version lets you connect one calendar—say, Outlook or Google Calendar—while paid plans offer extra features, remove branding, and integrate with additional business platforms.

2. Don’t lose out on face time

Do we have a lot of great options for remote work and videoconferencing nowadays, or what? What a time to be alive! If you’re looking for one of the best ways to get a bunch of disparately-located people together for a quick face-to-face meeting, look no further than Zoom (Android, Apple, web).

The free version allows up to 100 participants to meet for up to 40 minutes at a time with an otherwise pretty complete collection of features. Paid plans start at $15 per month once you’re hooked.

3. Take notes without taking notes

Nothing ruins a meeting like having to be the note-taker. It’s constant work, and you miss out on most of the actual, you know, meeting. Meet smarter with Otter (Android, Apple, web), which records meeting audio, transcribes it automatically, and shares it with the group once the meeting is over. It’ll even pinpoint key summary words and create word clouds that you can use to jump around to important moments in the conversation.

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The free version lets you record up to 600 minutes each month, and all versions integrate with the aforementioned Zoom as well.

4. Never forget your clicker again

If you invested in a presentation remote, it’s either lost or the battery is dead. Like cameras, maybe the best clicker is the one you always have on you. For that, there’s the aptly-named Clicker (Android, Apple) app, which turns your phone into a wirelessly connected remote that’s compatible with popular presentation software across Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The free version is ad-supported and can be unlocked for a one-time fee of $2.99.

5. Keep everyone engaged

So you’ve invited people, set up remote videoconferencing, your recorder is recording, and your clicker is clicking. Now what? Better keep everyone interested! Slido (web) can help you do just that, with interactive polls, crowd-sourced questions, group brainstorming, and more. Set up your session online before you present, and then hand out the event code to your participants. From there, they can use their favorite connected devices to opine, vote, and query all they like.

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The free version allows for up to 1,000 participants, unlimited audience questions, three polls, and one brainstorming topic per event, with paid versions starting at $199 per event for a bevy of additional features.

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