3 tips for writing better ChatGPT prompts

Command your bot army to produce better outputs.

Hopefully by now you’ve at least begun to explore some of the ways generative AI can fit into your communications workflow. If not, take a second to get some inspiration.

But maybe you still aren’t getting the responses you want from ChatGPT. Maybe what you’re getting is too general or too specific. Maybe it’s still not answering your questions at all.

Think of generative AI tools as calculators. They can do a lot of work for you, but ultimately the human being still must give it the right inputs to work with.

That’s where crafting a great prompt comes in.

AI can’t read minds – yet. So it’s up to us to guide it in such a way that it spits out answers we can use.

Here are a few tips for writing prompts that will make generative AI tools work better for you.



Be specific.

An AI tool isn’t a search engine. Even if it’s integrated into one, as with my personal favorite tool, the Bing/ChatGPT integration, you still talk to it in fundamentally different ways to get quality responses. Whereas on Google you’re likely typing in only a few words or a sentence at most to get results back, you can easily write a whole paragraph on ChatGPT.

For instance, you might want to tell the bot what you’re working on so it “understands” your purpose. You might want to give it a word count to stick to, a style to write in or even tell it what audience you’re writing for. You might want to give it text to edit, evaluate or condense. The more information you can give it, the more likely it’s going to find what it needs in the prompt.

But, you might say, if I take all this time writing an uber-detailed prompt, couldn’t I just have completed whatever task I wanted the bot to do on my own?

Maybe! It depends on what you’re asking the program to do. If you want it to compile information, explain something for you or write a first draft, you might still save time even when writing a long-winded prompt — if the results are good.

It’s a conversation.

Another key difference between an AI chatbot and a more typical search engine is that you can have a proper conversation with a chatbot. Each Google search is separate, though it may “remember” what you’ve clicked on before with the use of cookies. But with a ChatGPT session, you can have a proper back and forth where the bot is able to remember and reference what you’ve asked it for previously.

For instance, you can ask ChatGPT to write something, and then to make it shorter. Or funnier. Or to add details in or to edit according to AP style. The Bing/ChatGPT integration will also provide prompts on next questions to ask that could help you add to or improve your response — take advantage of these. You are limited to 20 back-and-forths with the bot (this apparently helps cut down on hallucinations), but that’s enough time to have a pleasant chat with your robot friend and create a collaborative, useful product.

Keep it simple.

One nice thing about generative AI technology is that you can speak to it in plain language, because it’s been trained on vast quantities of everyday human writing. So when you give it commands, talk to it like a human, avoiding jargon, long sentences or ambiguity. Give it instructions like you might an intern on their very first day: clear, crisp and specific.

But above all, remember that this technology is still “learning” and evolving. And so are you. The best way to write great prompts is to write more of them. See what works and what doesn’t, along with what makes sense for your workflow and style.

Any tips you’d like to share with the class?

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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