3 must-have Google Meet add-ons
Got Meet? Google’s recently rebranded videoconferencing service may be a confusing mess when it comes to its purpose and positioning, but it sure is simple and effective — not to mention secure — to use.
Now, is it strictly for teams or also for regular consumer use? When you should use it as opposed to Duo, Google’s increasingly overlapping other video chat service? I’m not sure that anyone, least of all Google, can fully answer those questions at the moment. And I’m not entirely convinced we won’t see even more muddled messaging in this area as the months wear on.
What we can say, though, is this: Meet is a great way to talk face to face with anywhere from two to 250 people, if you’re in a team-oriented G Suite setup — or up to a hundred people if you’re using a regular, individual Google account. And while its main interface may be relatively sparse, the right set of add-ons can go a long way in enhancing your meeting environment and making your Meet pow-wows even more pleasant and productive for everyone.
I’ve tried out tons of Google Meet add-ons and narrowed the list of must-have additions down to three simple but powerful tools. They’re all completely free to use — and they’ll all make an immediate difference in your distance-based discussions.
(Note that these add-ons currently work only in Meet’s web interface, when accessed via Chrome. The Meet mobile apps don’t support these sorts of extensions as of yet.)
Google Meet add-on #1: The smarter mute setup
Managing muting is without a doubt the most annoying part of a virtual meeting. Invariably, some schlub will forget to mute his mic and then start crackling papers or rambling on about pasta at exactly the wrong time. (That schlub is typically me.) On the flip side, some doofus will sooner or later try to start talking, only to realize midway through his monologue that he forgot to unmute himself and thus is inadvertently putting on a complex pantomime performance for his colleagues. (That doofus is also me.)
It doesn’t have to be like that, though. For a more logical and dodo-brain-resistant meeting experience, download the dead-simple Google Meet Push to Talk extension. It does one thing and does it well: It mutes your mic in Meet by default and then unmutes it whenever you hold your spacebar down. That means you can sit comfortably and stare blankly ahead without having to worry about your mute status — and then, whenever you want to talk, you can just press that pretty little pinky of yours down onto your spacebar and hold it down until you’re done.
Everything should be so easy.
As for permissions, the Google Meet Push to Talk extension requires you to grant it access only to the Google Meet website. Its code is open source and available for anyone to peruse, and its developers are incredibly clear about the fact that the software doesn’t store or do anything with any data it encounters.
Google Meet add-on #2: The silent reaction station
Speaking of too much speaking, how many times have you been in a virtual meeting and wished you could voice your stance on something without having to actually use your voice? Being able to give a thumbs-up, a nod, or a wave without needing to take yourself off mute — and in a way everyone is still sure to notice — goes a long way toward reducing the noise in a videoconference and consequently increasing the sanity of its participants.
And that’s exactly what the Nod Reactions for Google Meet extension is designed to do: It adds a perfectly sensible panel into the upper-left corner of your Meet screen with a series of single-click reactions. Any reaction you click gets shown to everyone else in the meeting as a pop-up in the lower-left corner of the screen.
You can simply raise your hand…
…or you can pick from a variety of other useful gestures, with even more promised to be on the way soon. (I’m still hoping for one of the single-finger variety, myself, but that might be a touch too zesty for professional purposes.)
Nod Reactions has a few other options, including the ability to change the color of your avatar to a variety of more human-like hues and a super-handy switch to enable actual notifications of any reaction activity in the room so you won’t miss a thing. And that’s about it, really. Just note that everyone in your meeting will need to have the extension installed in order for it to work optimally — since anyone who doesn’t have it in place won’t see any reactions and won’t be able to add in their own, either.
Google Meet add-on #3: The automated note-taker
Last but not least, perhaps the most powerful Meet add-on of all — one that taps into the service’s native captioning system in order to create and save a complete written transcript of everything said in your meeting.
It’s called Tactiq Pins for Google Meet, but don’t let the weird name scare you away. Once you’ve got it installed, all you’ve gotta do is click the “Turn on captions” link at the bottom of the Meet window — and just like that, Tactiq will start saving every transcription Google makes of your conversation.
The extension does pop up a slightly confusing window with an option to “pin” important parts of the dialogue, but I’ve found it’s easiest just to ignore that and dismiss it away. Then, when the meeting is over, simply click the Tactiq Pins icon in your browser’s address bar — directly to the right of where you type typically in web addresses — and you’ll see a note letting you know the transcript is ready.
You can then opt to export it to Tactiq’s companion service — or, more sensibly, save it as a Google Doc, save as a plain text file, or just copy it onto your computer’s clipboard for pasting wherever.
If you don’t see your entire meeting in the transcription, wait another 10 seconds or so and then try again. The service sometimes takes a little while to catch up, but it’s been quite consistent and effective, in my experience.
And with that, my dear communicating comrade, your Meet enhancement collection is complete. I don’t know about you, but all this talk about Meet is making me hungry. Who’s ready for some pasta?
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