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Updated on December 11, 2023
Published on December 11, 2023
Running a small business takes a lot of work — whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team to help, you’re probably taking on multiple jobs to get things done. Adding to that, in an increasingly virtual world, you need to get creative to wow your clients and keep your employees engaged.
Thousands of business apps and tools promise to help you improve team collaboration, increase productivity, and host better meetings, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Researching each tool can be time-consuming, and you might not have the budget to pay for a bunch of different small business apps.
That’s why we curated a lineup of Essential Apps that come free with your Zoom One Pro, Business, or Business Plus plan for the first year. They’re embedded into the Zoom Meetings experience, making them easy to access and use before, during, and after your meetings — which means no wasted time toggling between different apps and tabs in your browser.
Think of Zoom-curated Essential Apps as a toolkit of apps for businesses, which you can use to host more effective meetings and connect your team. Read on to see how small business owners are using them in their day-to-day work.
With many employee and customer interactions happening digitally these days, hosting effective meetings has become somewhat of an art form. It all starts with making a great impression.
Dave Kester, director of IT at law firm GableGotwals, needed to present a polished professional image during his meetings with clients and colleagues.
“When you are in a Zoom Meeting, it simply helps knowing who is talking or who you are talking to. It makes a difference,” Dave said.
He started using AI Nametags by Warmly, a business app that overlays a customizable virtual business card onto your video screen.
“We use the Nametags app by Warmly because it lets us put our firm’s branding on the screen — our company logo, name, and title. Each employee can personalize it,” Dave added. “It’s a simple yet effective way to elevate our professional presence.”
The first impression is important, but you also need to have great content and maintain a strong presence throughout your meeting. Capturing — and keeping — an audience’s attention isn’t easy, as Kandas Rodarte can attest. An accountability coach for female micropreneurs and the host of Gratitude Geek, a relationship marketing podcast, she’s no stranger to using Zoom for virtual presentations and coaching services.
However, she found that sharing her screen and using PowerPoint made her slides the focus, which limited her ability to connect with clients.
The Prezi Video app for Zoom Meetings transformed her approach. “For Prezi, it’s all about speaker presence and engaging with the audience,” Kandas said. “Now I can produce interactive meetings while maintaining speaker presence by uploading my own graphics or typing data on the fly during the meeting. The graphics and text appear seamlessly on screen next to my face. Prezi makes me look like a Zoom rockstar.”
Measuring engagement can also be a challenge in meetings. Kandas found that Prezi allowed her to see clients’ video feeds better so she could gauge their interest.
“I can see my meeting participants’ facial expressions and interact on a more personal level,” Kandas explained.
“During a meeting, there wasn’t an easy way to read the virtual room and we had to guess if participants were engaged on a specific topic,” Jake said. “With Read AI, we don’t need to guess — we have the metrics. This allows us to skip a slide and move on to the next topic, allowing us to improve the outcome of that meeting.”
Because the SparkPlug team is distributed across different locations, Read AI helps everyone get a better sense of engagement during meetings. “We all work remotely, so this has been a huge plus to have on Zoom Meetings,” Jake said. “The engagement score helps us decide when to move on to the next subject, and talk time encourages the team to be concise in the conversation.”
Looking beyond individual meetings, many small business owners and leaders are struggling with how to cultivate culture and improve employee engagement as a whole.
For Lester Alexander, director of human resources at SalesRoads, delivering a differentiated employee experience for more than 80 remote sales reps is no easy feat. “We work in sales, and part of our DNA is to have fun!” he said. The company put on game days and events, but with teams working remotely, the logistics were a challenge.
When Lester saw that the app Funtivity was associated with Zoom, he decided to give it a try. Funtivity makes it easy for SalesRoad employees to have fun together with virtual activities like escape rooms. “Teams get organized into breakout rooms and each team is provided a set of clues to solve in order to move to the next part of the game,” Lester explained.
Importantly, those fun moments translate to real value for the business.
“Using Funtivity improved our internal engagement scores with employees, which is hard to do, as we already have high engagement,” Lester said. “We were seeing twice as many employees engage in the games.”
Adrian Castaneda, data and tech specialist at Spark! Strategic Solutions, also struggled with the logistics of keeping a distributed team connected. “Several members of our team are primarily or fully remote,” Adrian said. “It gave a sense of isolation for some of our employees when they weren’t in meetings.” His team was often held up by communication roadblocks from not having the right people in the right meetings.
For Adrian, employee engagement came in the form of Welo, which provided a virtual space for co-workers to gather.
“It gives our remote employees the opportunity to feel connected with other team members by seeing their avatars within a virtual space and being able to ‘sit’ next to each other,” Adrian said. “It reminds me of a regular office when you are trying to get a few minutes with someone. It gives a bit of the human connection experience.”
If you’re looking for some of the best apps for small business teams, Zoom-curated Essential Apps are a great place to start. This collection of business apps includes tools for improving productivity and collaboration, hosting team activities and workshops, and strengthening sales and customer relationships.
Zoom One Pro, Business, and Business Plus subscribers get these premium apps for free for the first year, making them an easy addition to your toolkit and a smart way to enhance your meetings. To get started, simply click the Apps icon in the Zoom client (make sure to update to the latest version of Zoom!) or visit the Zoom App Marketplace to explore the wide selection of apps available to you.