Online Retreat Tips for Zoom

Adults Only

The retreat is for adults 18 years or older only. Because of the nature of our fellowships, we need to protect both children and participants by making sure that no children can see or hear retreat material, or be seen or heard in the retreat sessions.

Tips and Ground Rules:
How to get the most out of Serenity on the Sound 2021

Before the retreat

You’ll receive a Zoom link one or two days before the event, and you’ll be able to join the event by just clicking on that link.

If you haven’t done so already, make sure Zoom is working on your device before the retreat starts.  If you need help with that, contact a friend in recovery or send a note to info@soundretreat.org and we’ll help you. 

Does your name in your Zoom profile show up the way you want it to appear in the retreat? If not, now’s the time to log in to zoom.us and change it.

Remember to mute

Remember to mute yourself whenever you’re not speaking.  The moderator may sometimes eliminate background noise by muting participants. This is to help maintain the safety and flow of the meeting and is not meant to be personal. Even if you are attending from a quiet space, audio feedback can occur, and the accumulation of small noises from many quiet rooms can also make it hard to hear the content of a session.

Be aware of your video camera

Movements and unexpected visual images can be distracting and possibly even triggering. 

Dress for your Zoom meeting the way you would for an in-person meeting. Think about the background behind you. Is it appropriate for viewing? Try to stay still and be attentive. And turn off your video sharing when:

  • You’re moving your device
  • You’re eating or drinking
  • You or anyone else who may enter the room is:
    • Not dressed appropriately for company
    • Doing any activity that might be triggering or distracting, such as moving around, exercising, driving or walking with a mobile phone

NOSA (No One Stands Alone)

NOSA members are available at any time to answer questions or provide help or support.  NOSA’s purpose is to promote a healthy and nurturing environment conducive to spiritual and emotional growth and recovery. As recovering sex addicts and codependents of sex addicts, we are challenged with sexual issues and are choosing today to bring boundaries and foresight into their lives as spiritual, sexual, emotional, and physical beings. NOSA encourages you to seek help if you feel triggered, uncomfortable or unsafe.  NOSA volunteers with years of sobriety and with experience in peer support are available to help address any concerns you might have or just lend a sympathetic ear.  Just call or text Dale E (206-356-4611) or Cheryl E (206-579-5474).  They are both members of both SAA and COSA who have served in NOSA for several years, and they will help you get what you need.  If you’re having trouble reaching them, try Charlie S (206-949-7643).  If your concern requires action, typically two NOSA team members will meet with you to decide what needs to be done.

See “A Special Note About Safety” at the end of this document for related information.

More ground rules and etiquette

The retreat is for adults 18 years or older only.

Avoid using the chat function to engage in crosstalk.  Be sure to apply the same standards that you would apply to whispering or making a side comment in a live setting. (SAA Online suggests, “During a share, we do not interrupt, give advice, or engage in crosstalk. Please restrict gestures of support during a share to two words or less.”  COSARecovery.org defines crosstalk as “giving unsolicited feedback, giving advice, responding or referring to another person’s share in the meeting, making you and we statements, minimizing another person’s feeling or experiences, physical contact or touch, addressing another person present by name when you are sharing. So, to help keep our meeting a safe place, we do our best not to crosstalk or offer feedback in the meeting, instead we try to ‘learn to listen and listen to learn.’ We work toward taking responsibility in our own lives, rather than giving advice to others.”)

If you do chat privately with someone, take extra care that your message doesn’t go to the whole group.  Replies in Zoom don’t work like they do in texting or email, where they just go to the sender by default. In Zoom chat you need to select your intended recipient with your mouse pointer or other input method, even in a reply; otherwise your message will go to everyone.

Honor the anonymity and confidentiality of other participants. Join from a private space, and be sure no one else can see or hear your device.

Recording will be disabled for the entire retreat.  Do not take any screenshots or try to record any sessions.  If you would like to obtain program content you may contact info@soundretreat.org and we will connect you with the presenter.

To preserve your own anonymity, if you are using the online interface (as opposed to joining by phone) be sure to check your name in the Participants window and rename yourself there if necessary.

Environment and lighting

Participate in meetings from a quiet, indoor location to control ambient noise. Avoid settings where a very bright light source is behind or beside you. Experiment with moving lamps and your camera until you can see your brightly-lit face on the screen.

Take care of yourself

The schedule includes breaks of varying lengths, but we’re attending from several different time zones, so we can’t schedule meal and rest breaks to accommodate everyone.

  • Be present in your body and aware of what you need to be healthy and comfortable.
  • Even at a live retreat, it’s common to skip a session here and there for self-care, solitude or fellowship.
  • Eat, hydrate, stretch, meditate and rest when you need to, but turn your camera off.
  • Consider preparing meals and snacks ahead of time if you’re worried about missing something.

That said, resist the temptation to multitask in general.  This is your time!  Use it to refresh, connect and learn!  You’re worth it!

Make personal connections

One of the best parts of a retreat is the opportunities for fellowship it offers.  You’ll see that the program includes fellowship events and breaks.

If you share contact information, be mindful of your anonymity and safety.  You may prefer to share your email address rather than phone number, for example. 

Be sure to read the “Special Note About Safety” at the end of this document.

Technical tips

If you are on a wireless connection, try to remain close to the wireless router. When you have the option, choose a wired connection instead of wireless for video conferencing.

If you’re having trouble with your Zoom connection, try turning your camera off.  That often reduces bandwidth use enough to clear up technical issues.

You have options about how to arrange your screen.  In the top right corner of your screen, selecting ‘Gallery View’ will display everyone in same-size images. ‘Speaker View’ highlights whoever is speaking in a larger window in the middle of the screen.

There’s a limit on the number of attendees for each of our Zoom subscriptions.  If you switch devices during the event, be sure to sign out of the meeting on the device you’re not using to make room for someone else.

See below under “Zoom volunteers” about how to get technical support during a session.  If you are having trouble accessing Zoom or need help before the retreat starts, you can try calling or texting 206-790-1967 or 206-972-5265.

It’s possible that a service disruption or some other malfunction might interrupt one of our Zoom sessions.  If this happens, please just keep trying to sign back in to the Zoom meeting via the link you will have received from our registration volunteer.

Tips for participating by phone

Participants can easily unmute themselves when they would like to share by pressing Star-6 (*6) or by pressing the mute button on your phone.

If you would like to signal that you would like to speak next, Press Star-9 (*9) to “raise your hand.”

Zoom volunteers

At most sessions there will be two or more Zoom volunteers. They will show up as hosts and co-hosts in the Participants window. Among other duties, they will be on the lookout for people who have forgotten to mute themselves, so don’t take it personally if they mute you when you’re not talking.  They may also use the Rename function in the Participants window to replace last names with initials for people who have forgotten to do that themselves.

If you need Zoom help, you may send a private message to one of the Zoom volunteers by clicking on ‘manage participants’ and selecting the co-host from the list of members who are attending.



A Special Note About Safety – especially for newcomers

This note has been adapted from SAA literature

As a newcomer in SAA, COSA, or to this retreat, please be aware that our program is an individual 12-step program with no governing authority except our Higher Power.  This is a group of sex addicts, codependents, and co-addicts.  If any person you encounter within our fellowship tries to behave sexually with you, this is inappropriate.  You may end the conversation/relationship immediately.  Our 5th tradition states that our primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery to the addict/co-addict who still suffers.  Exploiting a new member is not in keeping with our Traditions and is inappropriate.  This behavior, commonly referred to as “13th stepping,” is rare but unfortunately does happen.

Here are some suggestions some of us have found helpful for discerning and preventing “13th stepping.”

1.      Have a wide range of support.   Reach out to several people for support, not just one or two people.  If something doesn’t feel right, question it.  Do not hesitate to turn to another sober member for support if necessary.

2.      Some groups have found it helpful to assign two temporary sponsors to each newcomer, that way the newcomer is never alone with another member.

3.      Read the literature on Safe and Sober Meetings.  Do not spend one-on-one time or have phone calls with people in our fellowships to whom you are attracted or have expressed an attraction to you.

4.      Feel free to contact someone from NOSA (No One Stands Alone) to help resolve any awkward situation.

Above all, sobriety is the goal.  Honor yourself by surrounding yourself with people who support your recovery!