Prepare to Attend The 2020 Story of You!

Please follow the preparation steps below to ensure an excellent experience for yourself and your fellow USM grads. Because you will be in trio and participating in large group sharing, your full preparation is required and ensures a graceful, quality experience for us all as well as for you. So that we can place you in online trios, each student must attend from their own device even if physically in the same location as another participant, so please plan accordingly.

If you missed our orientations, please watch this 13-minute orientation video and follow along in a test Zoom meeting at

Click here for the 2020 Story of You Live page. The Classroom Zoom Link on that page is your link to join the workshop. You’ll find a link to the handouts there as well.

The workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific with a meal break 1–2:30 p.m. each day. End times and break times are approximate.

Prepare Your Space

  1. Ensure you attend from a private, quiet, well-lit space that has consistently strong internet, and where you will not be interrupted.
  2. Make agreements with others to ensure no interruptions during all class session times. Treat this just like attending in person at USM. Place a “do not disturb” sign on the door or similar if that will support you.
  3. Choose a space where you will feel safe to share fully.
  4. Download and print the Workshop handouts: we will email you a link closer to the Workshop.
  5. Have a pen and paper ready to take notes, or use your preferred note-taking method.
  6. You may want to have a candle ready to light during class since emotional negativity may come up and release into the room. Since it tends to go towards flame, having a lit candle may keep the room clear and the negativity away from you.
  7. Give yourself some room to stretch and dance during our energy breaks!
  8. Call in the Light and perform clearings regularly, including before and after each class session.


  1. A computer is strongly recommended (i.e. not a phone or iPad).
    • Any computer that can run the latest version of Zoom. You can view Zoom requirements here.
    • Attending via handheld device (phone, iPad, etc.) is not recommended. If you do attend with a handheld device:
      • Prop it up so it is stationary, ideally with a stand that places the camera at eye level. Do not hold it. The camera moving can make your trio-mates dizzy and your fingers near the microphone can create objectionable noise.
      • Ensure you have a separate place to take notes.
      • Be sure to test.
  2. A consistently reliable internet connection is required.
    • The link above has Zoom’s requirements—at least a consistent 3Mbps upload and download for top quality. Most internet connections vary in speed based on local usage, so at least 6Mbps upload and download is ideal for consistent quality.
    • You can test your internet connection by Googling speed test and clicking the RUN SPEED TEST button. (You will also test your connection with a Zoom call in a few steps from now).
    • To ensure reliable internet:
      • Plug in to your router physically if you can.
      • Using 5GHz Wifi with direct line of sight between your router and computer is also great (that means no walls between the WiFi router and the computer). 2.4GHz wifi can have more interference from neighbors.
  3. A headset, headphones, or earbuds are required to ensure privacy.
    • We recommend a quality headset, e.g. Jabra Evolve 80. Click here for student discount on this or others.
    • Listening and being heard clearly are crucial to this work. A quality headset will help keep the focus on the person sharing without distractions of audio quality.
    • Microphones built into even high-end laptops are often poor quality and generally not recommended.
    • Comfort is important as you’ll be wearing these for hours at a time.
    • If you have a comfortable set of headphones or earbuds and an external mic, that works great too.
  4. A webcam is nice to have, e.g. Logitech c920.
    • Even high-end laptops generally have poor cameras that require a great deal of front lighting to avoid your being in shadow.
    • Buying even an inexpensive webcam can improve quality considerably with less need for lighting improvements.


  1. Download Zoom and update to the latest version:
  2. Make sure you you have an updated internet browser that can stream live video and audio. If you cannot, you may need to update your internet browser or choose a different one such as Chrome. We’ll test this together soon. In the meantime, you can test live streaming at:

Finally, if you have a Zoom account, go to, fill in your first name and fill your last name as “LastName | Location” e.g. “Hulnick | Santa Monica CA USA” so your name in Zoom will serve as your USM name tag.

Test Your Audio and Video

Instructions are here are for Mac. Search Google for similar for Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS.

  1. Plug your devices, e.g. headset and webcam, into your computer.
  2. In your computer’s system preferences:
    1. Set your default audio input to the preferred microphone or headset: System Preferences > Sound > Input. Then select your preferred mic.
    2. Turn the input volume all the way up as a starting point, and check the Input level meter. It should peak all the way to the right when you speak loudly, but not when you’re speaking softly.
    3. Turn on ambient noise reduction if available
    4. Now go to Output. Set your default audio output to your headset, headphones, or earbuds.
  3. To check your audio and video:
    1. Open Quicktime or other video recording software. (Note that this is for testing purposes only and you do not need to record anything over the weekend.)
    2. Select File … New Movie Recording
    3. Check that your camera and microphone are set to the proper ones (in Quicktime, click ⌄ next to the record button).
    4. Check your shot and adjust as needed:
      1. Is your face well lit?
        Add lighting in front of you and turn off lights behind you as needed.
      2. Is your camera at or close to eye level?
        Raise your camera to eye level.
      3. Is enough of your torso in the shot to capture gesturing?
        Aim to include down to your waist and to have 5–10% headspace.
      4. Is your background tidy and appropriate?
    5. Make a little recording and play it back.
      Audio should come loud and clear through your headset.

Complete a Test Zoom Call + Zoom Settings

  1. Go to
  2. Complete a test call with some lovely people.
    You can find some lovely people to test with in your alumni Facebook group at
    1. Click Join
    2. In the upper left of the Zoom window, click ⓘ and then “Copy link”
    3. Share that link with the lovely people.
  3. Check that you can all hear and see each other clearly:
    1. Nobody is much quieter than the rest
    2. All faces are well lit and meet the other shot guidelines above.
    3. As needed, click the ^ next to the microphone or camera icons in the lower left of the Zoom window to change your camera, microphone, or speakers and to visit the audio settings.
  4. Find and test the Raise Hand button. This is how you will raise your hand for large group sharing. You will find the button in the Participants panel at the bottom.
  5. Check your name in the Participant panel, that it shows as FirstName LastName | Location. If you have not already, set your last name to include location at so you don’t have to set it each time.
  6. Find and test the chat.
  7. You’ll see controls for muting and unmuting yourself and turning your video on and off.
    • We will control muting and unmuting during large group sharing and you should not need it in trio if you choose a quiet space.
    • We ask that you keep your camera on at all times during the class so we can see your faces.
  8. Click ^ to the right of camera icon and click “Video Settings…”
    • Check “Always display participant name on their videos.” These will serve as our name tags.
    • Under Audio settings:
      —Uncheck “Automatically adjust microphone volume”
      —Check “Join audio by computer when joining a meeting”

USM Online FAQs

How do I set-up my Zoom classroom name tag?

For every class, please set-up your classroom name tag according to the format of: FirstName LastName | Location e.g. “Kevin Walsh | Los Angeles, CA USA.” You can change your last name at so this will happen automatically each time. 

How do I place my computer on “Do Not Disturb” mode?

We highly recommend placing your computer in “Do Not Disturb” mode, including silencing sounds and pausing notifications from applications, to support your experience of ease and focus in the classroom.

On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Notifications > Turn on Do Not Disturb in Notification Center.

On a PC, you can activate Focus Assist by right clicking on the notification icon on the taskbar. Select “off” to put it in the Do Not Disturb mode. Note that placing your computer in Do Not Disturb mode will not mute the audio for Zoom.

What do I do if I don’t see the green-bar messages during trio?

Ensure you are using the most recent version of Zoom. You can download the latest version at

How do I share in the main classroom?

To share or ask a question, use the “Raise Hand” button. This will bring your name to the top of the participants list so Ron & Mary can call on you. You can find the Raise Hand button in the participant panel: move the mouse over the Zoom window and click “Participants” at the bottom of the Zoom window. You’ll find the “Raise Hand” button at the bottom. You may have to click “More” to see it.

Is the workshop being recorded?

Similar to USM’s practice for in-person classes, only the main classroom is recorded. Processes that take place in trios are not recorded.

What happens if I didn’t get a breakout room for a trio?

Please wait patiently and we will place you.

If one of my trio partners needs additional support during a trio process, what do I do?

Please click the “Ask For Help” button. An assistant will join you in your trio breakout room to speak with you.

Additional Support

Please utilize the support of the software and hardware you’re using first. They are better suited to support you than we are.

If you need to contact USM, you can email for tech support and for questions related to the workshop. You can also call us at +1 (310) 829-7402.