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How to Write AI Prompts That Get Results (& Don’t Suck)

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In the last Netflix show you binged or the latest blog post you read, did you ever wonder if a computer had a hand in it? Crazy thought, right? And the truth is, it’s entirely possible with the evolution of AI prompts! 

With technologies like ChatGPT, AI co-pilots creators in everything from content to business strategy. It’s not sci-fi; it’s our new reality. 

Dive in with us as we unravel how these AI prompts work and, more importantly, how they can change how you approach just about everything!

What is an AI prompt?

An AI prompt is a message sent to an AI text or image generator (like ChatGPT, Bard, or Midjourney). The better the prompt you send, the more accurate and helpful the result the AI will spit out.

Why You Should  Learn How to Use AI Prompts

It is worth using AI prompts because it is the way of the future.

But let’s take a step back. You might wonder if using Bard, ChatGPT, and AI art generators is worth it. Can’t humans do these things better anyway?

Well, there are three good reasons to try out AI creativity:

  1. Efficiency. While human creativity is unparalleled, AI is so much faster. An AI can write a blog post, brainstorm a thousand ideas, or create a work of art in seconds. Even if you still add your human touch, AI can help you save time.
  2. Diverse perspectives: AI doesn’t “think” like humans. By analyzing vast amounts of data, it can provide unexpected outputs and expand your thinking.
  3. Future-readiness: Whether we like it or not, AI is here to stay. It’s where society and technology are going. Why fight it when we can embrace it and use these tools for good? By familiarizing ourselves with AI now, we are staying ahead of the curve.

At the end of the day, these AI programs are highly advanced tools. 

You can use these tools to help you accomplish your goals and objectives. The better you understand how to use these tools, the more effective you can be. 

As of May 2023, only 14% of US adults1 had tried ChatGPT. While it’s a massive new technology, it’s still becoming mainstream. So, if you can master AI, you’ll be one step ahead.

Before exploring how to use these AI tools best to achieve your goals, you might also be interested in this free training that can help you set better goals in the first place using science-backed techniques:

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What Makes an AI Prompt Good (or Bad)?

What makes an AI prompt good is when it is specific, contextual, structured, explicit, and iterated. 

You can use AI for writing content creation, business, coding, and more. But there is a skill to writing prompts that get the outputs you’re looking for.

Crafting an effective prompt for ChatGPT can be likened to the art of asking the right questions. 

Interestingly, ChatGPT users over the age of 501 found the tool to be less useful than users under the age of 50. This might link to a familiarity with technology and understanding how to use it to its fullest.

What are the qualities of a good AI prompt?

A good AI prompt will include the following elements:

  • Specificity: A precise prompt often gets a more accurate and relevant response. Instead of “Tell me about cats,” you might ask, “What are the behavioral characteristics of domesticated cats?”
  • Contextual clarity: It can help your output if you specify what the purpose of your prompt is. For example, instead of “Give me a lasagna recipe,” you might write “Provide a lasagna recipe suitable for a summer garden party.”
  • Structured format: If you have multiple questions or require a specific format, make it evident. “List three reasons…” or “Compare and contrast the following…”
  • Explicit constraints: If you have a length constraint or a specific style in mind, mention it. “Summarize the following in 50 words…” or “Explain the concept in layman’s terms.”
  • Iteration: Instead of asking everything at once, engage in a back-and-forth with the model, refining your query based on previous responses. So, if you’re writing a blog post, it can be helpful to write a new prompt for each section.

What are the qualities of a bad AI prompt?

A bad AI prompt, on the other hand, will not give you the results you want. Such prompts will tend to include these elements:

  • Vagueness: Ambiguous prompts can lead to equally vague answers. “Write me a poem” is so open-ended that the AI could venture in any direction. “Write me a poem about unicorns” is better but still vague. “Write me an inspiring and symbolic limerick about unicorns in the style of Tony Robbins” is best.
  • Over-complication: While specificity is good, overloading a prompt with too many conditions or intricate jargon can muddle the output.
  • Assuming knowledge: This is when you ask about something specific and assume the AI knows what you are referring to. 
  • For example, if you write “discuss the evolution of impressionism,” you are assuming the AI knows you are referring to “impressionism” as an art movement instead of a style and that it knows you want a specific answer. A better prompt would be: “Within the domain of art history, can you discuss the evolution of impressionism as an artistic movement in late 19th-century France?”
  • Leading questions: Leading or biased prompts can produce skewed results. For example, “Why is X better than Y?” presupposes that X is superior.
  • Neglecting iteration: Using a single, standalone prompt and expecting the perfect answer without further refining can lead to suboptimal results.

Here is that limerick from just above, by the way, from ChatGPT:

In the unicorn’s spirit, so bright,

Lies a lesson to guide us through the night.

With its horn reaching high,

It implores, “You can fly,

Unlock your true magic; ignite your light!”

In essence, the key to an effective GPT prompt lies in striking a balance between clarity and specificity, guiding the AI’s response without overly constraining or biasing it. 

Examples of Good and Bad AI Prompts for Different Scenarios

Now, let’s look at a few specific examples. From blog posts to marketing campaigns, what do the best prompts and some less clear prompts look like?

How to use AI to Create visual art

When it comes to AI art generation, specificity, style, and theme guidance can help you make some awesome art that fits what you want to create.

Here’s an example of a bad prompt for AI art generation:

“Make cool artwork with stars.”

This prompt may still make something interesting, but the prompt is so unspecific that it will be a crapshoot what comes out. Specifically, this prompt falls short because it’s:

  • Extremely vague: What kind of artwork? What medium or style?
  • Lacks clear guidance on theme, color palette, or composition.
  • “Cool” is subjective and doesn’t provide any tangible direction. It’d be better to have more descriptive adjectives.

When I typed this prompt into Imagine, Art, here’s what came out: 

Digital art by Imagine, Art which was created by putting in the AI prompt "make cool artwork with stars".

Not bad. But wait until you see what the “good” prompt created.

A better prompt might be:

“Create a digital artwork inspired by Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ using bright, saturated colors. The composition should focus on a serene lakeside with a vibrant star-filled sky overhead, but incorporate modern elements like skyscrapers in the background and a person with an umbrella as the focal point.”

This is a good prompt because it:

  • Clearly references a specific art style: Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night.’
  • Defines the desired color palette: bright, saturated colors.
  • Describes the main composition and elements: lakeside, star-filled sky, skyscrapers, and a person with an umbrella.
  • Gives a blend of classical and modern themes for unique creativity.

And here’s what came out:

Digital art by Imagine, Art which was created by putting in the AI prompt "Create a digital artwork inspired by Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' using bright, saturated colors. The composition should focus on a serene lakeside with a vibrant star-filled sky overhead, but incorporate modern elements like skyscrapers in the background and a person with an umbrella as the focal point."

Cool, right?

How to use AI to write a blog post

Here’s an example of a bad prompt for writing a blog post:

“Write a blog post about gardening.”

This prompt isn’t effective because:

  • It’s extremely vague: What about gardens? Are we discussing botanical gardens, personal gardens, or the concept of gardening?
  • No target audience specified: Is this for professional landscapers, hobbyists, or someone who’s never planted anything?
  • Lacks structure: There’s no direction on what aspects to cover or the depth of discussion.
  • No indication of desired tone or style: Should it be poetic, informative, casual, or formal?

Here’s a good prompt example:

“Write a concise, beginner-friendly blog post on the benefits and challenges of urban gardening, providing practical tips for city dwellers looking to start their small-scale garden.”

This prompt is good because:

  • It’s specific about the topic: urban gardening.
  • It indicates the target audience: beginners and city dwellers.
  • It provides a structure: benefits, challenges, and practical tips.
  • The tone is suggested: concise and beginner-friendly.

Here’s what ChatGPT wrote from the second prompt:

Urban Gardening for City Dwellers: From Concrete Jungles to Lush Oases

Urban living often conjures images of high-rises, bustling streets, and – let’s face it – a lack of greenery. But what if we told you that you can cultivate a garden right in the heart of the city? Urban gardening is reshaping our metropolitan spaces, offering fresh air (quite literally!). Let’s dive into the benefits, the challenges, and nifty tips to kickstart your green journey.

Benefits of Urban Gardening:

  • Personal Oasis: Amidst the urban hustle, a garden can be your serene retreat, a place to relax and rejuvenate.
  • Health Boost: Gardening can be therapeutic, reducing stress and anxiety. Plus, if you’re growing edibles, you’re in for fresh, organic produce right at your fingertips!
  • Environmentally Friendly: Plants purify the air, reducing pollutants. They also offer urban wildlife like birds and insects a little haven.

Challenges to Brace For:

  • Limited Space: Not all of us have sprawling balconies. But worry not; we’ll tackle this in our tips.
  • Water and Light Issues: Urban settings might have restricted sunlight or water sources, which are crucial for plant growth.
  • Pollution: City air isn’t the cleanest, which can sometimes affect plant health.

Tips to Get Started:

  • Vertical Gardening: Limited on space? Go vertical! Use wall hangers, shelves, or vertical planters to maximize your gardening area.
  • Choose Wisely: Opt for plants that thrive in your specific urban conditions. Some plants require less sunlight and are more resilient to pollution.
  • Use Containers: Pots, old jars, boxes, or even shoes can be transformed into plant containers. They’re mobile, so you can move them around to catch the sunlight.
  • Community Gardening: Join forces with neighbors or community members. Shared gardens can be a great way to pool resources and expertise.
  • Educate Yourself: Attend workshops, join online gardening communities, or simply chat with the plant vendor. Knowledge is your best tool.

In Conclusion

Urban gardening is more than a trend; it’s a lifestyle shift. It’s about transforming our concrete confines into verdant spaces, one plant at a time. Challenges? Sure, there are a few. But with the right knowledge and a sprinkle of patience, you’re on your way to becoming an urban gardening guru. So, roll up those sleeves, and let’s plant the seeds of change! 🌱🏙️

Happy gardening, city folks!

Pretty solid, right? While the post could use a few tweaks, it’s a great start!

How to use AI to write customer support responses

Here’s a bad prompt for a customer support situation:

“Reply to this customer about their delayed shipment.”

Here’s why that prompt isn’t so effective:

  • It’s extremely vague: What is the context? Are they happy, dissatisfied, or just seeking information?
  • Lacks guidance on tone or style: Should the response be apologetic, informative, cheerful, or formal?
  • Doesn’t highlight the importance of customer validation.

Here’s an example of a good prompt for the same situation:

“Provide a polite and detailed response to a customer who has expressed dissatisfaction with a delayed shipment, explaining potential reasons for the delay, offering solutions to expedite delivery or provide compensation, and ensuring the customer feels heard and valued.”

That prompt is good because:

  • It’s specific about the issue: delayed shipment.
  • It offers a clear structure for the response: acknowledge the issue, explain reasons, provide solutions, and reassure the customer.
  • The tone is suggested: polite and detailed.
  • It emphasizes customer validation, ensuring they feel heard and valued.

Here’s an example from ChatGPT:

Customer’s Message:

“I ordered a gift for my niece’s birthday two weeks ago, and it still hasn’t arrived! This is unacceptable!”

AI’s Reply:

“Dear [Customer’s Name],

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you’ve faced with the delay in your shipment. Sometimes, unexpected factors like inclement weather, high order volumes, or courier disruptions can cause unforeseen delays. We understand how important it is, especially when it’s a gift for a special occasion.

To make this right, we can offer to expedite the delivery at no additional cost or provide a discount on your next purchase as compensation. Your satisfaction is our utmost priority, and we genuinely appreciate your patience and understanding.

Please let us know how you’d like to proceed, and once again, we deeply regret the inconvenience caused.

Warm regards,

[Customer Service Rep Name]”

How to use AI to create an educational lesson plan

Now, say you’re a teacher and want support writing a lesson plan for your class.

Here’s a prompt that won’t get you what you want:

“Make a lesson on plants.”

The problem with this prompt is that:

  • It’s vague: What aspect of plants? Anatomy? Reproduction? Different types of plants?
  • Doesn’t specify grade level: A lesson for 1st graders would differ significantly from one for high school students.
  • Lacks structure: Doesn’t define what components should be in the lesson (activity, assessment, discussion, etc.).
  • No indication of desired complexity or duration.

Here’s a good prompt on the same topic:

“Design a comprehensive lesson plan for a 7th-grade science class on photosynthesis. The lesson should last 45 minutes, incorporate a hands-on activity using everyday materials, and conclude with a quick quiz to assess student understanding. Ensure the content is engaging and tailored to the knowledge level of 7th graders.”

This a good prompt because:

  • It’s specific about the subject and grade level: photosynthesis for 7th graders.
  • Provides clear structure and components for the lesson: introduction, activity, and assessment.
  • Specifies the duration of the lesson: 45 minutes.
  • The tone and level of complexity are suggested: engaging and tailored for 7th graders.

Here’s what ChatGPT spat out for the good prompt:

Lesson Plan: Photosynthesis (7th Grade Science)


By the end of the lesson, students should be able to explain the process of photosynthesis and its importance to life on Earth.

Introduction (10 minutes):

  • Start with a short video clip showing the importance of plants and trees.
  • Briefly discuss what photosynthesis might be and why it’s essential.

Activity: ‘Leafy Magic’ (20 minutes):

  • Materials: Clear plastic cups, water, leaves, and sunlight.
  • Students will fill the cup with water, place a leaf, and set it in direct sunlight.
  • After a few hours, they’ll observe small bubbles (oxygen) on the leaf’s surface.
  • Discuss the observation and how it relates to photosynthesis.

Discussion (10 minutes):

  • Dive deeper into the process, highlighting the role of chlorophyll, sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water.
  • Explain the production of glucose and oxygen.

Quick Quiz (5 minutes):

  • A five-question quiz to check students’ understanding of the process and its significance.
  • Materials Needed: Plastic cups, leaves, water.

How to Use AI to Write Marketing Copy

Marketers can also benefit from ChatGPT for writing tweets, copy, and Instagram captions.

Here’s an example of a sub-par prompt:

“Write marketing copy to sell a toothbrush.”

This prompt isn’t great because:

  • Extremely vague: What kind of toothbrush? What’s special about it?
  • No specified target audience: Different demographics may require different messaging.
  • Doesn’t suggest which features or benefits to highlight.
  • Lacks context: Is this for a website, brochure, social media post, or TV commercial?

Here’s a better prompt:

“Craft a persuasive and engaging marketing copy to promote an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush targeted at young adults aged 18-30, emphasizing its sustainable features, benefits for oral health, and stylish design. The copy will be used for a social media ad and should be limited to 100 words.”

This is a much better prompt because of it:

  • Clearly specifies the product: an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush.
  • Defines the target audience: young adults aged 18-30.
  • Outlines key features to highlight: sustainability, oral health benefits, and design.
  • Specifies the medium: social media ad.
  • Sets a word limit, ensuring brevity.

Here’s the copy ChatGPT came up with from the second prompt:

“🌍 Make a change, one brush at a time! Dive into eco-chic with our sleek bamboo toothbrush 🎋. Not only is it sustainably sourced, but its design is crafted for optimum oral health and that stylish flair you love. Join the green wave 🌱, flaunt that radiant smile 😁, and be the change today. #BrushSustainably #EcoSmiles”

Writing code

Say you want to write code to help you find the area of a shape.

Here’s a prompt that won’t be very helpful:

“Write code to find the area of shapes.”

This prompt won’t work well because it’s:

  • Vague about the kind of area (which shape?) and the programming language to use.
  • Doesn’t specify function signatures, inputs, or outputs.
  • Lacks context on data types or expected behavior.

Here’s a much better prompt:

“Write a Python function named calculate_area that takes in two parameters: shape (a string which can be “circle,” “rectangle,” or “triangle”) and dimensions (a tuple containing relevant measurements). The function should return the area of the given shape. For a circle, dimensions will contain the radius; for a rectangle, the width and height; and for a triangle, the base and height.”

This is a much better prompt because:

  • It’s specific to the programming language Python.
  • Clearly defines the function name and expected parameters.
  • Describes the behavior of the function in detail.
  • Provides clarity on the data types and structures involved (string, tuple).

Here’s the code ChatGPT came up with

An AI prompt put into Chat GPT asking it to write code to help find the area of a shape.

While this is a fairly simple coding project, the same principles can be applied to more complex use cases.

How Do AI Content Generators Work?

These AI tools can seem like magic. You put in a few words and pop out an essay or poem. You might be wondering how they work.

On a basic level, AI content generators, like ChatGPT, use complex algorithms to analyze vast amounts of text data and craft coherent responses.

Let’s dive into a bit more detail.

How does ChatGPT work?

At its core, ChatGPT is a brainchild of the company OpenAI, whose mission is to create artificial general intelligence that will eventually benefit humanity.

Google’s Bard uses an AI software called LaMDA.

In September 2021, ChatGPT effectively “read” a significant portion of the internet (300 billion words, to be precise, from books, Wikipedia articles, blogs, etc.). But unlike humans, ChatGPT doesn’t forget what it reads. So when you throw a question or text prompt its way, it’s not “thinking” on the spot. Instead, it recalls patterns from the billions of words it reads and then crafts a relevant response.

The “secret sauce” is a machine learning algorithm called a large language model2 A language model uses probability to determine how humanlike a string of words is.

How is Google Bard different from ChatGPT?

Bard and GPT are the two top dogs in the AI language space. But they are not identical. Here are the differences between Bard and ChatGPT:

PurposeTo be informative and comprehensiveTo be human-like and engaging
Training dataText and code, including books, articles, code repositories, and other sources of informationText, with a focus on human-generated text
StrengthsProviding up-to-date information on a wide range of topics, answering specific questions in a comprehensive and informative wayGenerating creative text formats, understanding and responding to natural language queries
WeaknessesCan be less engaging in its responsesCan be less accurate in its responses, particularly when generating creative text formats
Language model usedPathways Language Model (PaLM 2)Generative Pre-training Transformer 4
Internet accessHas current access to the entire internetLast read the internet in September 2021

How do AI image generators work?

AI art generators work by accessing a massive dataset of images and artwork. Then, when you provide an art prompt, a complex algorithm will generate new art by combining and modifying the patterns learned from its dataset, producing unique and often visually impressive digital art.

Here are Midjourney and Dall-E, two of the top image generation AIs.

Frequently Asked Questions on AI Prompts

How do AI prompts generate text and content?

AI prompts generate text and content by processing the instructions through trained neural networks, utilizing vast amounts of data to produce coherent and contextually relevant responses. The underlying models, like GPT variants, utilize patterns in the data they were trained on to generate the output.

In which industries are AI prompts commonly used?

AI prompts are commonly used in various industries, including content creation, customer service, marketing, healthcare, and education. Their versatility allows businesses and professionals to streamline processes and generate insights.

What are the ethical concerns associated with AI prompts?

The ethical concerns associated with AI prompts include the potential for spreading misinformation, biases present in training data, and concerns over originality and plagiarism. As AI becomes more prevalent, ensuring transparency, fairness, and ethical use becomes paramount.

Can AI prompts replace human creativity and content creation?

AI prompts cannot fully replace human creativity and content creation, as they lack genuine emotions, experiences, and intuition. While they can assist and augment creative processes, the innate human touch remains irreplaceable.

What tools and platforms offer AI prompt capabilities?

Tools and platforms that offer AI prompt capabilities include OpenAI’s GPT variants, Google’s LaMDA, and several SaaS platforms like ChatGPT, Inferkit, and Sudowrite. These platforms empower users to generate content, answer queries, and more.

What is the future of AI prompts in technology and business?

The future of AI prompts in technology and business looks promising, with constant advancements leading to more accurate, versatile, and efficient applications. As technology evolves, integration into various industries and aspects of daily life is anticipated to grow.

Takeaways on AI Prompts

If you’re looking to use AI to help you with your projects, just remember that it all comes down to giving the right prompts. 

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be sure to harness these tools to their greatest capacity:

  • Specificity. Give as much relevant detail as possible.
  • Context clarity. What is the greater context and purpose?
  • Structured format. Be clear about how you want it to present your information.
  • Explicit constraints. How long or short do you need it to be? What’s the audience?
  • Iteration. Give feedback and make adjustments as you go.

If you’d like to think more about how humans interface with AI, here’s a fascinating article about what social skills robots should learn in the future to be most effective.

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