Imagine you’ve stumbled upon a magical entity that could answer all your questions. A mystical being capable of condensing convoluted information, crafting poetry, and generating story plots.
An ethereal being that can effortlessly switch between dialects, emulate the wisdom of past philosophers and paint vivid pictures of historical milestones.
Sort of like a genie in a lamp. (Without the weird rubbing and claustrophobia.)
Well, that exists, and it’s called ChatGPT.
Although it’s technically more accurate to say ChatGPT is a large language model with a conversational chatbot-style interface. It uses natural language processing to understand natural language and simulate conversation with users. You can use AI to write articles, website content, or rephrase text.
While ChatGPT opens up a world of possibilities, you need to know some basics to get the most out of it. That’s why we put together this beginner’s guide on how to use ChatGPT effectively.
Understand the limitations
From enhancing customer service experiences to boosting creative writing efforts or simply streamlining day-to-day interactions, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize how we work. But it’s important to understand its limitations before we get into the best practices to use ChatGPT effectively.
- Lack of Contextual Understanding: While it understands language well on a surface level, it may struggle with context-specific or complex human dialogues.
- Data Privacy Concerns: Open AI collects the information you provide as input, file uploads, and feedback. Unless you turn off this option, your chats are saved and used to improve their models. So be careful of the information you share with ChatGPT.
- Lack of Emotional Intelligence: ChatGPT cannot understand or respond to emotional cues from users, which could limit its effectiveness in certain interactions.
- Dependence on training data: The quality of responses relies heavily on the quality and breadth of training data used to train the AI model. Any biases present in the training data may also reflect in the output produced by the model.
- Difficulty Handling Ambiguity: ChatGPT may not always provide appropriate or accurate responses when the user input is ambiguous or when posed with a complex question. So it’s important to detect and cross-check AI content with a credible source. Here’s an article that discusses how to detect AI-written content.
- Outdated data: ChatGPT was trained on data up to early 20221, so it has no knowledge of the world and events after 2021. Some ChatGPT plugins try to overcome this by overlaying information from new search results, but their reliability is questionable because the sources aren’t verified. Two other options are Bing Chat or Google Bard, which have generative AI built into their search engines.
Anatomy of an effective ChatGPT prompt
The key to successfully using ChatGPT lies in crafting an effective prompt. Some people loosely refer to this as prompt engineering, but that’s not exactly accurate. Engineering is what AI trainers do to train their models. I guess you could call this prompt structuring or prompt designing. There are several key elements to consider when crafting a good AI prompt. Let’s break it down:
1. Audience definition:
Clearly define the intended audience for your copy. Are you targeting small business owners, healthcare professionals, or another specific group? Knowing your audience helps AI create tailored copy for your brand.
Example: “Write a blog post introduction about the benefits of using a CRM system for small business owners.”
A clearly defined audience of ‘small business owners’ direct the AI tool to tailor its response to them.
2. Tone and style:
Specify the tone and style of your prompt. Are you looking for a formal or informal write-up? Humorous take or serious analysis? Specifying your tone and style helps the AI generate content in your brand voice, ultimately reducing editing time.
Example: “Write a fun and engaging launch email for our new game app GoRun targeted at teens.”
You can even reference famous personalities to induce the AI to write in a certain style.
Example: “Write a product description for our new fitness watch in the style of Ricky Gervais.”
3. Scope and Focus:
Clearly define the scope and focus of your prompt. Specifying what you do want helps narrow down the AI’s focus and prevent it from going off on tangents.
Example: “Write a blog post about the advantages of using a CRM system for small business owners, focusing on customer segmentation and automated marketing features.”
By explicitly specifying what you want and don’t want in your prompt, you provide the AI with a better understanding of your requirements, reducing the chances of irrelevant content.
4. Industry, Command, and Business Context:
Provide context about your industry, command, or business. This helps the AI understand the specific context in which it needs to generate responses. You can also mention any common pain points or challenges your audience faces.
Example: “We’re an eco-friendly company launching our new line of organic skincare products. Write a compelling product description for our Green Tea Face Mask that emphasizes its natural ingredients and environmental benefits.”
5. Assign a role:
Defining roles sets the perspective from which the AI should approach the task. Let’s say you want to brainstorm ideas for blog posts; instructing the AI to think like a content strategist would give you better results.
Example: “Assume the role of a content strategist at a digital marketing agency. Propose five compelling blog post ideas for our client who specializes in vegan food products.”
6. Clear task Description:
Clearly describe the task you want the AI to perform. Be specific about the information you want the AI to provide or the questions you want it to answer. Specify the number or length of the output you’re expecting.
I’ve noticed that explicitly stating “Your task is to… “in your sentence gives better results in some cases because it reduces ambiguity.
Example: “Your task is to write three catchy taglines for our upcoming online coding bootcamp aimed at beginners.”
7. Desired output format:
Specify the desired format for the AI’s response. Do you want the output in JSON, table, CSV, or code format? This ensures that the AI generates the content in the most convenient format for you. You can even ask ChatGPT to format the text for you.
Example: “Please provide three recipes for quick and healthy breakfast dishes formatted as a table including ingredients & cooking time. Italize the cooking time.”
8. Define the goal:
Define the ultimate goal of your prompt. Do you want to persuade readers to take a specific action, encourage them to reply with their thoughts, or achieve a different objective?
Example: “The goal of this CTA is to encourage our followers to leave comments about their experience with our products.”
9. Define the channel:
Defining the channel for your content is an important aspect of crafting a prompt for ChatGPT. The medium, or ‘channel,’ you plan to use for delivering your content influences the length and style of writing. For instance, blog posts are usually longer and more detailed, while tweets will be concise and engaging. A LinkedIn post might require a formal tone, whereas a Facebook post might be casual and conversational.
By specifying the channel in your prompt, you’re guiding ChatGPT toward generating content that aligns with the unique requirements of that channel.
Example: “Draft an intriguing LinkedIn post introducing our new eco-friendly product line.”
Bringing it all together:
Here are three prompts combining all the best practices:
Example: “You’re a budgeting expert writing for financially conscious millennials on our personal finance blog. Our mission is to help them achieve financial independence through smart budgeting and saving strategies. Your task is to draft an engaging and informative article titled ‘5 Easy Steps to Start Investing in Your 20s.’ The article should be written in a friendly and approachable tone, making complex financial concepts easy to understand. Please present each step with a heading followed by a short explanation.”
Example: “Act as a social media manager and draft a fun and captivating tweet announcing our upcoming shop-wide sale. Our goal is to encourage new moms to shop with us during the sale period. Our brand sells baby products, so make sure to include a relevant image and hashtag. The tweet should be no more than 280 characters and include a hashtag. Additionally, please include an eye-catching emoji to draw attention to the tweet and make it stand out.”
Example: “Assume the role of a travel guide crafting content for our website that caters to adventure-loving tourists. We are a travel agency promoting sustainable tourism globally. Create an exciting itinerary for a seven-day eco-friendly trip across Costa Rica’s national parks. The itinerary should be written in an inspiring and enticing tone, highlighting the unique natural wonders and wildlife encounters each destination offers. Please format the output as a table, with columns for Day, Destination, Activities, and Sustainability Highlights.”
By carefully considering each element of a good AI prompt – audience, tone, context, role assumption, task description, output format, and goal – you can create prompts that yield more relevant and useful responses from an AI language model like ChatGPT.
Pro tips for using ChatGPT effectively
Ask follow-up questions:
In many cases, you may not get the results you need from a single prompt. That’s okay. You’ll have to ask a few follow-up questions or provide more details to refine the AI’s response. Sometimes it can be as simple as asking it to rephrase the answer based on the additional information.
For example, if you asked ChatGPT to generate a plan for an eco-friendly trip across Costa Rica’s national parks, but the output was too general, you could ask it to “provide more information on the activities available at each destination.”
Use Chained prompts:
Chained prompts are a way of structuring a conversation with the language model by using the output from one prompt as input for the next. This helps in maintaining context throughout a multi-turn conversation. This is good when you want to test whether the AI knows about your topic.
User: Who won the World Series in 2023?
Assistant: The New York Yankees won the World Series in 2023.
Now, you take this response and use it for the next query to maintain context:
User: Who was their star player? Assistant: The New York Yankees won the World Series in 2023. Who was their star player?
Assistant: The New York Yankees’ star player in 2023 was Aaron Judge.
And so on. This way, we create a chain of queries and responses that can help provide more meaningful and contextual answers.
In the above example, the first response from the AI shows you whether it knows the answer to your original question.
Use examples in your prompt to create a pattern:
ChatGPT understands how to tailor responses for well-known channels like Twitter and Facebook. But if you want the tool to answer in a specific format, providing examples of the format you want it to follow can help.
Example: “Act as a travel guide. List the best places in France. Format city names as points and places to visit as sub-points, as given in the below example.”
- Point 1
- Subpoint 1. a
- Subpoint 1. b
- Point 2
- Subpoint 2. a
- Subpoint 2. b.”
Using examples tells the AI to recognize and follow the pattern in your prompt.
Get it to write different perspectives
ChatGPT can write from different perspectives. For instance, someone living in a country would experience it very differently than a first-time tourist. Specifying the perspective can really vary the output.
Example: “Write two concise paragraphs describing Paris in a first-person point of view. The first paragraph should be written from the perspective of some tired of Paris, and the second paragraph should be from the perspective of someone visiting Paris for the first time.”
Get it to write different variations
The AI chatbot can also write multiple variations of the same text. To do this, you should define different variables that will help it generate unique sentences and ensure that the output is varied.
Example: “Write four emails complaining to customer service about the constant outages experienced when using their app. Write variations using the below variables.
1) Frustration (low, high) 2) Tone (formal, informal)”
The AI can generate four unique emails with different frustration levels and formality using these variables.
Get it to brainstorm new ideas
ChatGPT is an excellent tool for brainstorming new ideas. All you need to do is to provide it with a general topic and ask it to list the associated ideas or solutions.
Example: “Brainstorm five innovative ways our company can reduce its carbon footprint” or “Come up with three creative marketing strategies for launching our new product.”
This can help you develop fresh and unique ideas to tackle any challenge from a new angle.
Check what the AI understands
After providing the prompt, you can ask ChatGPT to explain what it has understood from the prompt. This can help you identify any areas that need clarification and avoid potential misinterpretations. It can be as simple as saying, “State what you understand the above command.” at the end of your usual prompt.
ChatGPT would then explain what it understands. You can then refine the prompt accordingly.
These are just some ways in which you can use ChatGPT effectively. With a bit of practice, it’ll become second nature.
Frequently asked quirkeries (FAQs)
What is ChatGPT
ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses natural language processing and deep learning to understand user inquiries and generate meaningful responses. It can automate conversations, answer FAQs, provide instant customer support, develop content, and more.
Is ChatGPT free?
Yes, there’s a free version of ChatGPT. The free plan has limitations, like limited availability during peak hours, restricted access to new models, and higher response times.
The paid plan, ChatGPT Plus, offers faster response times, priority access to new features, and reliable access to the technology even during peak periods. Chat GPT also provides an API (Application Programming Interface) for developers who want to use it inside their applications.
How do I get the best results from ChatGPT?
Writing clear and specific prompts is the key to getting the best results from the AI chatbot. Examples and defining variables such as tone, format, and perspective can help it understand what you want it to do, resulting in better output. You should also check what the AI understands from your prompt by asking for an explanation. This will help you identify any areas that need clarification.