A New Free Beta App For Zoom: Help Shape The Future Of Virtual Meetings

I love it, but don’t just take my word for it, take it for a spin…

Attila Vágó

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I’m bored. Are you bored? Yeah, I think we’re all bored, to be quite honest. As much as I love my colleagues and try making some of them my friends for when I’m about to default on my mortgage and need money 🤑, staring at the same person for an hour, listening to them type away their notes, the awkward pauses between moving from a topic to another, the rigmarole of online meetings as a whole is just… blah. I feel far more exhausted after a one-hour meeting than a three-hour session of non-stop coding, because the latter gives me a sense of achievement. The former? Not so much…

Yet somehow I ended up working for a company that does remote-first, and if you’re wondering what was I smoking when I made that decision, I’m going to have to disappoint you. I don’t smoke at all. But, true to my software engineer nature, I saw the opportunity to fix the most exhausting part of my — and everyone else’s — work day once and for all. During the pandemic, at my previous job I quickly realised it’s impossible to have great online meetings without engagement, which can be caused by a variety things: sometimes due to lack of structure or clear action items, sometimes because it’s difficult to facilitate equal conversation. But driving better meeting structure and engagement in the digital space may or may not work well with the current tools we have. Simply put, when I joined Prezi in January 2022, I did it because I saw the opportunity to fix meetings and the source of my own boredom.

This November we took a first major step towards fixing it! A new beta app in the Zoom marketplace… 🥳

Introducing Porter by Prezi… 🥁

Now, fun fact, porter is also a type of beer and if you drink too many of them, the porter will also the person who carries your inebriated self around in the hospital. The good news is, the Porter app will not land you in any kind of trouble, but it will get you just as excited as a glass of beer, so without further ado, let me tell you how it can improve your Zoom meetings.

I won’t go into details around what a Zoom App is. The bottom line is that when you have your Zoom desktop app open, in the bottom toolbar you’ll find an apps icon which will give you access to the Zoom App Marketplace. These are apps that run within Zoom itself, enhancing your meetings in some way or other. You can search for Porter by Prezi or go directly to the marketplace via the browser and install through there. It’s a very similar concept to Chrome extensions or Safari plugins, but these are for Zoom!

Porter by Prezi can do a host of things for your meetings; otherwise I wouldn’t be excited inviting you to try it out:

  • Display your agenda on screen with you (instead of screen sharing it) so you never lose contact with your team
  • Use the automatic visible timer to keep things moving along as planned
  • Encourage participation with built-in icebreaker and round-robin features
  • Track outcomes, assign tasks, and automatically recap them, so everyone’s on the same page
  • Add chat messages directly in your video feed, and react to each other’s messages, increasing engagement.

It’s pretty cool, let me show you a few screenshots!

But there’s more!

You might even make a bit of cash along the way. It’s a beta app, so naturally feedback is super-important to understand all the edge-cases that might have gone undetected, so in return for your feedback you automatically get the chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card. You can buy a lot of LEGO with that! 😁 All you need to do, is hit the “Porter feedback” button at the bottom of the panel to submit. Easy-peasy!

Any feedback is valuable, so if you do decide to try it out in your next meeting, don’t hesitate to be honest. Good software relies heavily on understanding how people use it, how they are trying to solve problems. You might just find that your suggestion is implemented in the next iteration. Wouldn’t that be cool? 😎

I’m always honest with my readers so for full transparency, nobody asked me to do this. Nobody asked me to invite any of ye out there to try this new app Prezi built. It’s entirely my own initiative. I want you to try it, because I think it’s cool, because I was involved in its design and development to a small extent, and because it’s one of the two apps that got us the winning spot at Zoomtopia 2022, and they don’t just give those awards out to anyone. 😉

Alright, go try Porter by Prezi and have some fun meetings for a change!

Attila Vago — Software Engineer improving the world one line of code at a time. Cool nerd since forever, writer of codes and blogs. Web accessibility advocate, LEGO fan, vinyl record collector. Loves craft beer! Read my Hello story here! Subscribe and/or become a member for more stories about LEGO, tech, coding and accessibility!

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Attila Vágó

Staff software engineer, tech writer, author and opinionated human. LEGO and Apple fan. Accessibility advocate. Life enthusiast. Living in Dublin, Ireland. ☘️