I often attend software development conferences where the presenter will instruct the audience 'what' to do, without giving any explanation of 'why', or 'how' they should do it.

For example, the presenter might remark: (examples generalized)

  • "When getting in your car, put on your seat belt".

  • "Backup your data".

  • "Just get involved".

I find these types of statements annoying and un-motivating.

What is a word or phrase that describes when a presenter dictates weak/vague/unhelpful instructions? They are saying something that doesn't inspire you, and to possibly cause you to roll your eyes at them.


This presenter is being _____

Possible synonyms.

"Patronizing": To patronize infers condescension. The speakers aren't being prideful, just unhelpful.

"Preaching to the choir": To preach to the choir conveys the audience are already on board with your ideas. I'm not onboard yet since I'm still absorbing the presenters ideas.

"Disheartening": The presenter didn't deflate anyones hopes, or discourage them, they simply annoyed them with their un-helpfulness.


I attend conferences for software development. Since many people on this site may not be software developers, the examples are generalized.

A better example. The presenter is presenting his idea "All bicycles should have 3 wheels instead of 2"

The presenter then uses the following arguments to prove his idea.

"All bicycles should have three wheels because three wheels is better than two" (Ridiculously unsubstantial argument)

"Just put a 3rd wheel on your bike, don't be afraid of a 3rd wheel" (pleading with audience without explaining 'why' a three wheeled bike is better)

I think I'm looking for a word that describes when a person uses unfounded facts and fallacies as arguments.

  • Spouting empty platitudes? Trivial? Vapid?
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 20:33
  • 2
    – Drew
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 20:39
  • 1
    I would call that person Captain Obvious
    – user180089
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 21:18
  • 1
    Maybe pedantic? Or prescriptive when you want descriptive. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 21:46
  • 1
    Your title refers to "unhelpful advice" - but is it unhelpful because (1) he is telling the audience what they already know; (2) because he's just giving basic step-by-step instructions without explaining why; or (3) some other reason? Please clarify.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 23:30

5 Answers 5


'This presenter is being facile in his recommendations.'


Platitudinous: (of a remark or statement) used too often to be interesting or thoughtful; hackneyed.

Banal: so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.

Trite: (of a remark, opinion, or idea) overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness.

Aphoristic: 1 : a concise statement of a principle. 2 : a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment : adage.

  • It's important to mention the source. Where did you find these definitions?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 15:20

Throwing darts in the dark: pedant/pedantic:


    • one who makes a show of knowledge
    • one who is unimaginative or who unduly emphasizes minutiae in the presentation or use of knowledge


    • a person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning.
    • a person who overemphasizes rules or minor details.


    • of, relating to, or being a pedant (see pedant)
    • narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned


    • ostentatious in one’s learning.
    • overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching.

So you could say, "This presenter is being a pedant" or "This presenter is being pedantic."  Also, "That presentation was a lot of pedantry."


The words "thick" or "dense" might apply here. If someone is being "dense", it means they're not getting the point. When a presenter tells you what to do without telling you how or why, then they're missing the point of a presentation.

Here are the Merriam Webster entries:

dense: slow to understand : stupid, thickheaded

thick: obtuse, stupid

Example in a sentence: "These presenters are kind of dense."


Wrongheaded. According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

having or showing opinions or ideas that are wrong

As in "The presenter offered an array of wrongheaded ideas."

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