How to Make Zoom Better Using Its Best Apps

How to Make Zoom Better Using Its Best Apps

We’re all now a lot more familiar with Zoom than we were, say, before a certain global pandemic forced large numbers of us to work from home and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues over video chat. In fact, Zoom is now so big that there are all kinds of add-ons and extra extensions you can add on top of it — whether you’re looking to entertain the kids or keep your work meetings on schedule.

However you use Zoom, some of these suggestions should be helpful, and they might even make video calls a little bit more bearable. If you’re yet to experience Zoom, you can download it for just about every desktop and mobile platform via its official website.

Mmhmm

Graphic: Mmhmm
Graphic: Mmhmm

Mmhmm (freemium) sits seamlessly between your webcam and Zoom to add a whole host of options for your video feed: You can present slides while staying on screen, access more than 100 backgrounds, be on screen with several people at once, and even record videos to present to people at a later date. If you spend a lot of time inside Zoom sharing your screen and want more options for how that looks to the people watching you, it’s ideal.

Read

Image: Read
Image: Read

Read (freemium) is on a mission to “improve meeting wellness” — and that involves everything from keeping meetings running on time to giving everyone a transcript afterwards. As far as the Zoom integration is concerned, Read uses artificial intelligence algorithms to summarize meetings, adds a variety of augmented reality effects, and can even measure how engaged your meeting participants are in what’s going on (creepy).

Funtivity

Funtivity (freemium), as the name suggests, is an add-on intended to add more fun to your Zoom meetings — and as we all know, they can drag on. You’ve got more than 25 different activities to go at here, including bingo, trivia quizzes, charades and virtual versions of scavenger hunts and escape rooms. It’s all nicely polished and well integrated into the main Zoom interface, and can be used equally well in work meetings and family catch-ups.

Sesh

Image: Sesh
Image: Sesh

Sesh (freemium) aims to drag the concept of the meeting agenda into the modern video-calling age, using smart visual cues and audio prompts to make sure you’re spending the right amount of time on each item of business. It helps you create agendas as well as stick to them, and the application comes with plenty of other useful extras, including the ability to set quick polls for your participants and ready-made icebreakers.

Grain

Screenshot: Grain
Screenshot: Grain

Grain (freemium) tries to fix the problem of everything in a Zoom meeting being forgotten as soon as it’s over: Grain will record and transcribe everything, as well as giving you the tools you need to save and annotate snippets to review later, so you can stay focused on what’s happening rather than worrying about taking notes all the time. Everything that you’ve saved can be easily shared with participants, and quickly searched through as well.

Krisp

Image: Krisp
Image: Krisp

Krisp (freemium) adds to the noise-cancelling features that are already included in Zoom, making sure everyone on the call can always be heard through some smart artificial intelligence algorithms that cut out background sounds. With something similar already included in Zoom itself, you might not feel like anything else is needed, but the effectiveness of Krisp everywhere from coffee shops to airports makes it worth adding.

SurveyMonkey

Graphic: SurveyMonkey
Graphic: SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey (freemium) gives you everything you need to poll the people in your meetings, whether you’re voting on what’s for lunch or which direction to take your product design in. One of the downsides of virtual meetings is that it’s easier to be passive and to check out from what’s happening, but the straightforward integration that SurveyMonkey offers on Zoom puts some of that participation and interactivity back.

Welo

Zoom can look a lot different with Welo installed. (Image: Welo)
Zoom can look a lot different with Welo installed. (Image: Welo)

Welo (freemium) certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s likely to appeal to anyone wanting to break away from the standard Zoom look of a series of rectangular video thumbnails. You can put meeting participants in a variety of digital spaces, from parks to lobbies, and it makes the experience of getting on a call significantly different. It functions really well for breakout rooms too, because you get an overview of the virtual spaces everyone is in.

Miro

Screenshot: Miro
Screenshot: Miro

Miro (freemium) is just about the most advanced collaborative whiteboard that you can plug into Zoom, suitable for everything from team brainstorming to vacation planning. If you need a digital space to work on together with other participants on your call, this has every feature you’re going to need, and it’s all nicely integrated into the Zoom experience. Boards can include text, shapes, images and more, plus interactive elements like polls.

Twine

Gif: Twine
Gif: Twine

Twine (freemium) aims to substantially upgrade one specific part of the Zoom experience: The breakout rooms. With this add-on installed, you can set up a variety of different types of breakout rooms (including ones based on certain custom tags or participant criteria), you can automatically switch people between rooms after allotted time durations, and you can access other useful features such as in-app prompts for guiding conversations.


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