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Using Neutral Facial Expressions in Professional Presentations

May 14, 2015 / Blog appropriate situations, body language, handling presentations, Kathy Reiffenstein, neutral face, Rick Enrico Blog

Did you know that the old maxim, your face speaks a thousand words, applies in the context of professional presentations? Your facial expression plays a vital role in boosting your credibility, and in connecting with your audience.

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To become a professional presenter, use your facial expressions to your advantage, but this doesn’t mean you can just arch your eyebrows, frown, smile, or grimace. Sometimes, maintaining a neutral facial expression works best.

Sometimes, maintaining a neutral facial expression works best.

Keeping a straight face

A neutral face is a blank expression that implies a lack of perceptible emotion. Most of the time an emotionless face is defined by straight-lined mouths, unfocused eyes, and slack cheeks.

Though it communicates negativity to some, others see it as a reflection of calmness.

It’s the simplest way to detach yourself emotionally from the situation, making you deliver a more effective and professional presentation.

How this can work for you

A neutral expression may work when giving audiences an unbiased take on varying concerns and opinions. It’s ideal for expressing both disinterest and interest in the topic, while absorbing or listening to the idea being presented.

Doing this not only reflects your professionalism, but it also displays your respect towards them.

When this expression is most appropriate

All the other facial expressions openly display a person’s emotions, while the neutral face hides and balances your composure during stressful situations.

According to speech trainer Kathy Reiffenstein, some appropriate situations for the neutral face include:

Confrontational or Argumentative Discussions

As a presenter, you should have the innate skill of maintaining a steady facial expression, especially during difficult talks and arguments.

When you’re at the peak of your emotions, there’s a tendency to become less aware of your words and actions. That’s why neutrality must be applied to show people that you treat your work seriously and professionally.

Irrelevant Answers

When someone answers incorrectly, showing a neutral expression won’t embarrass them. Nobody would want a getting a laugh or a frown as a response.

Avoid making disrespectful expressions after hearing an erroneous reply. Instead, treat your audience with care and politeness by providing the correct answer and thanking them for responding.

Expressing Opposing Views

You’re also required to remain neutral when faced with opposing viewpoints. You have to weigh the strong and weak points of different views, without jumping to conclusions and expressing negative reactions.

This motivates your audience to share different perspectives and ideas. Otherwise, varying facial expressions dissuade them from sharing their point of views.

Disruptive Audience Members

Dealing with a difficult audience is a common challenge for every presenter. There’ll always be someone who likes to cause trouble or hear themselves talk.

In cases like this, maintaining a neutral face helps you keep your cool. It communicates your sense of maturity and persistence in handling a disrespectful audience.

Every presenter’s goal is to deliver successful and professional presentations. Though expressing yourself is important, an understated approach is more appropriate in certain situations.

Apply a neutral face during your presentation to convey your message without sounding or looking biased.

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Be a Presentation Virtuoso with Deliberate Practice.” SlideGenius, Inc. February 26, 2015. Accessed May 6, 2015.
Reiffenstein, Kathy. “3 Places To Use A Neutral Face In Your Presentations.” And Now Presenting. January 30, 2015. Accessed May 6, 2015.