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Prompt Engineering: Everything You Need to Know With ChatGPT

First, there was the wheel. Then, the printing press. The lightbulb. The internet. And now large language models like ChatGPT. 

We are entering a world where we each have unimaginable power. 

But to best use these AI tools, we must understand how to engage with them. That’s where prompt engineering comes in.

In this article, we’ll cover how to best engineer prompts to use ChatGPT, and we’ll learn how developers use the algorithm behind ChatGPT to create some pretty incredible apps.

What is Prompt Engineering?

Prompt engineering is crafting questions—or prompts—for an AI tool to deliver the most insightful and desired response. It’s about creating a question or directions that brings out an AI’s best capabilities.

This is the most commonly used definition, but it is a term that has two meanings—one for users (people who are using AI tools) and one for developers (people who are developing AI tools).

User-facing prompt engineering

This is the most common definition, where prompt engineering refers to the ability of a user to master the art of conversation with AI. 

Imagine having a wise sage at your disposal; how you phrase your question to this sage determines the richness and accuracy of the knowledge you receive in return. 

Prompt engineering is the practice of crafting these questions—or prompts—to ChatGPT towards delivering the most insightful and desired outputs. It’s not about telling the AI precisely what to do; it’s about asking in a way that brings out the AI’s best capabilities.

Developer-facing prompt engineering

On the other hand, prompt engineering also refers to the tools and skillset developers use to engineer the API (the underlying algorithm OpenAI created for ChatGPT) to make cool apps. Imagine the developers are turning different dials on the programming of ChatGPT to make its responses more friendly, creative, or information-dense. 

Someone creating an app that uses ChatGPT’s code to support distressed customers would probably engineer it quite differently from a company using ChatGPT to replicate a friend, for example.

Helpful Hints on How to Engineer Your Prompts as a User

Below are some best practices that can guide individuals and organizations toward mastery in giving the proper instructions.

Start broad, then narrow down.

Begin with a general prompt and refine it based on the AI’s response. This iterative approach can help pinpoint the most effective way to elicit desired answers. 

Give feedback and sculpt the responses along the way.

Here’s an example of narrowing down GPT’s responses to craft a tweet.


Can you write me an interesting tweet related to parasocial relationships


Parasocial relationships: where our brains bond with fictional characters and digital personas as if they’re real friends. 📺❤️ It’s a modern testament to the power of storytelling and technology! #DigitalBonding #ParasocialLove


Please do it again, but no hashtags or emojis


Parasocial relationships blur the lines between fiction and reality, as we form bonds with characters and digital personas just as deeply as with real-life friends—the intriguing dance of human psychology and modern media.


Can you write a new tweet on the topic, but write it in the second person and give the reader something to think about


You’ve never met that podcast host or fictional character yet feel connected. Ever wonder why you care so deeply about beings you’ve never truly known? Consider the power of parasocial relationships in a digital age.


Ok, awesome. Now, can you do it again, but make the reader feel even more curious to get to know more


You feel connected whenever that podcast host speaks, even though you’ve never met. What’s behind this uncanny bond with strangers in the digital realm? Dive deeper; you might be surprised at what you discover about parasocial relationships.

Be specific

The more specific you are, the more tailored the AI’s response will be. Include as much context as you can. 

Also, give any domain knowledge that might be helpful.

Don’t assume that the AI can “intuit” what you mean without explicitly saying it. 

Here’s an example:


Can you tell me what to write on my friend’s birthday card?


Another year around the sun, and yet, it feels like you’ve only begun to shine your brightest. With every laugh shared and memory made, I’m reminded of your special place in my life. Here’s to our adventures and the many more awaiting us. Happy Birthday! 🎉

That’s not bad. But it’s a lot better when it’s specific.


Can you tell me what to write on my friend’s birthday card?

We’ve known each other since college, and we have a group phone call with our college friends once a month. My friend and I only have a 1-on-1 call about every six months, but there’s still a lot of care for each other. We used to play basketball together and had excellent teamwork. I want the note to convey that even though we don’t see each other often, I still think fondly of him and hold him in my heart.


Hey [Friend’s Name],

Every time I pick up a basketball, I’m reminded of our unstoppable teamwork back in college. And though life has taken us on different paths, and our calls might be infrequent, our once-a-month group chats are always a highlight for me. Our bond transcends the gaps of time and distance. Here’s to those college days, our present moments, and the memories we’re still destined to create. Know that you’re always held fondly in my heart, not just on this particular day.

Happy Birthday!

[Your Name]

Share the intended audience

Be clear on who this prompt is for. Is it for a 10th-grade literature class? Or is it for any upset customer?

The more specific with the audience you can be, the better ChatGPT can perform.

Here are three examples:

  1. User
  2. Can you explain the concept of non-duality to someone who has never had a spiritual side and is very science-minded and logic-driven? In 2 sentences


Non-duality is the philosophical concept that everything in existence is interconnected and not separate, suggesting a unified reality beyond apparent distinctions. It’s akin to modern physics assertions that, at fundamental levels, distinctions between particles and waves, or between objects and space, blur or even dissolve.

  1. User
  2. Can you explain the concept of non-duality to a spontaneous, imaginative, and curious child? In 2 sentences


Imagine if everything in your favorite storybook was made of the same magical stuff, even though they looked and acted differently. Non-duality is the idea that everything and everyone, even in our world, is connected like that, like pieces of the same big puzzle.

  1. User
  2. Can you explain the concept of non-duality to a monk who has been practicing Buddhist meditation for 30 years? In 2 sentences


In the profound depths of your meditation, where the distinctions of self and other fade, there lies the essence of non-duality. It’s the realization that all phenomena arise from and return to the same boundless source, transcending the illusions of separation.

Clarify your parameters

Notice above how I wrote, “In 2 sentences.” ChatGPT would have spat out an extended bullet-pointed essay for each prompt if I hadn’t clarified that.

Be clear on the length and format. How many sentences? Do you want it to rhyme? Do you like it as bullet points or as a list of pros and cons?

Here’s a pretty obscure example that you probably wouldn’t use. But it’s impressive and gets the point across!


Can you summarize The Lord of the Rings and its main themes in 20 words? And can you make every word you write start with the letter “S”


Sauron seeks supreme stone; small Sam supports selfless sacrifice; stories symbolize struggle, salvation, steadfastness, sinister seductions; souls strengthened.

Clarify the voice

Do you want the responses to be formal and precise or witty and playful? Do you like short sentences? Lots of metaphors? Be clear on your desired style.

You can describe your tone by saying, “Please be relatable but professional.” Or you could say, “Please write in the voice of Michelle Obama.” 

Or you can paste text you’ve already written and ask it to match the tone of that text.

Ethical considerations

Always craft prompts with ethical considerations in mind. Artificial intelligence has no ethics, so you are responsible for everything it writes on your behalf.

When you master the art of prompt engineering, you’ll be feeling like Mr. Bean down here:

A funny image of the Terminator carrying Mr. Bean on a chair in the air with one hand. The terminator is representing Chat GPT and Mr. Bean is represents "me looking clever on an email." This relates to the article on prompt engineering.

Prompt Engineering Skills That Will Help You Land a Job

Using ChatGPT will likely become a fundamental skill in any corporate job. Imagine tailoring ChatGPT to write flawless legal contracts, compose personalized marketing campaigns, or generate code for groundbreaking inventions. 

If you’re seeking to boost your skillset and become a more attractive job candidate, consider the following skills that will help you with prompt engineering.

Getting clear on problem statements

Every time you ask ChatGPT a question, you present a problem you want to solve. The clearer you understand the problem parameters and your goals for solving it, the better your answers will be. 

Write clearly

Clarity is your friend. You won’t get the desired results if you try long, complicated prompts. You need to be able to write super clearly and only include relevant information.

Break down big tasks into little ones

ChatGPT tends to do better when you give it smaller sections to chew on. If you want to write a blog post, instead of asking it to write the whole thing in one shot, it works better to ask it for one section at a time.

If you want prompt engineering to be part of your career, it will help if you break down problems into bite-sized chunks so that each can be its own prompt. 

Collaboration and persuasion

It can help to treat ChatGPt as a colleague whose support you want. It is built on a bunch of human thoughts, after all.

Can you use principles of motivation and negotiation to get better results?

I know someone who will offer ChatGPT money if it delivers better results. He says it works!

Style control

So much of using AI writing successfully is getting it to write in a style that matches your needs.

Do you want it to write poetically, persuasively, or informatively? Do you want it to be professional or goofy?

Figuring out how to manage the writing style of ChatGPT is one of the most significant skills. 

Real-World Examples of Prompt Engineering in Action

You can use prompt engineering in various ways to help your business and your personal life. Let’s go over both!

The ways that businesses can take advantage of prompt engineering

49% of businesses1 currently use ChatGPT. Here are some of its primary use cases.

  • Content creation & copywriting: Marketing agencies use prompt engineering to craft compelling product descriptions, ad copy, or blog post outlines. By fine-tuning their prompts, they can elicit brand-aligned content from AI, which then gets further refined by human writers.
  • Customer support: Businesses deploy chatbots powered by ChatGPT to assist users in real-time. By crafting specific prompts, these bots can handle customer queries more efficiently, guiding the conversation to resolve issues or answer questions effectively.
  • Education: An instructor for an online learning platform can leverage AI to develop lectures or assist students with homework. With well-engineered prompts, these platforms can guide AI to provide step-by-step explanations or cater to specific learning styles.
  • Medical consultations: Some health platforms utilize AI for preliminary medical advice or information dissemination. Through prompt engineering, they ensure that the AI provides accurate and understandable information to laypeople while always emphasizing consultation with actual medical professionals.
  • Entertainment & gaming: Game developers and entertainment platforms employ AI for story generation or character dialogues. They can ensure dialogues align with a character’s persona or a story’s theme with precise prompts.

The ways that individuals can take advantage of prompt engineering

Below are situations where ChatGPT can benefit your personal life and an example prompt for each.

  • Deciding what movie to watch: “I’m considering watching either Dude, Where’s My Car? or The Matrix. For each film, can you tell me the three primary emotions I’ll feel, the three primary themes the film explores, and the three primary character archetypes in the film?”
  • Help with personal reflection: “I’m struggling with life direction. Can you give me three journal prompts to help me find my north star in life?”
  • Wellness: “Can you give me a 5-minute mindful eating exercise I can do during my breakfast that involves breath, posture, and body awareness?”
  • Personal communications: ”I need to write an email to my rabbi explaining that I won’t be able to attend the service this weekend because I’ll be traveling. Though I wish I could attend! Can you help me create a rough draft for this email?”
  • Setting goals: “How can I structure a SMART goal for enhancing my public speaking abilities within the next 6 months?” Alternatively, if you want to take a more hands-on approach to setting goals, you might enjoy this free training:

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Companies Who Have Harnessed the Power of Prompt Engineering

There are lots of companies sprouting up that are using ChatGPT technology to offer a service.

These companies have used developer-facing prompt engineering of ChatGPT and are selling an app that lets you interface with GPT in specific ways.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Writing companies

There are lots of companies that are tailormade to help you write content. These companies use ChatGPT technology with specific backend prompts to help you pump out blog posts, email marketing, and more.

Here are a few top companies in this industry:

AI coaches

Some companies have packaged ChatGPT in a specific way to function as a coach or therapist.

These apps allow you to converse with the AI to help resolve some of your life. I can attest from firsthand experience they’re pretty helpful! (Though they certainly don’t replace a human coach or therapist). 

Essentially, the developers used prompt engineering to create a chatbot that mimics the behavior of a therapist or coach.

Here are two such apps out there:

  • IX Coach is great for general life coaching
  • Alex is an excellent app for help with struggles in love, sex, and relationships

AI as a translator

Duolingo has harnessed the power of GPT with its new service, Duolingo Max.

Duolingo Max gives students clear explanations of why their answers to language practice tests were either right or wrong. It’s supposed to emulate a language tutor. 

Students can also use Duolingo Max to roleplay interactions with foreign speakers—imagine trying to order tapas from a restaurant in Barcelona.

These are really impressive apps—and they’re all rooted in ChatGPT prompt engineering.

Customer support

Online customer support is another promising area for ChatGPT. And plenty of companies offer AI as a customer support tool to save money.

A customer-support human employee could also use ChatGPT independently with the correct prompts.

Here’s Ultimate, one such company using AI for customer support.

The Key Differences Between Traditional Programming and Prompt Engineering

It’s common for people to wonder if prompt engineering is related to traditional programming and computer engineering. 

To answer this question, we must first remember that there is user- and developer-facing prompt engineering.

Asking how computer engineering and user-facing prompt engineering differ is like asking the difference between driving and building a car.

Whereas developer-facing prompt engineering could be considered a subset or specialized form of traditional programming. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Prompt Engineering

What are some practical applications of prompt engineering?

Practical applications of prompt engineering range from business tools like content creation and customer support to personal uses such as deciding on a movie or seeking wellness advice. Businesses and individuals alike are finding innovative ways to benefit from it.

Are there any ethical considerations associated with prompt engineering?

Ethical considerations are associated with prompt engineering, especially ensuring AI provides accurate, unbiased information and emphasizes the importance of human expertise where necessary, such as in medical consultations.

Can you provide examples of successful prompt engineering in real-world scenarios?

There are many successful examples of prompt engineering in the real world, including marketing agencies crafting compelling product descriptions, Chatbots assisting users, online education platforms guiding learners, and health platforms giving preliminary medical advice.

What are the key principles or best practices for effective, prompt engineering?

The key principles for effective prompt engineering involve understanding the AI’s strengths and limitations, iterating frequently, and testing extensively. It’s all about fine-tuning the text input to optimize the model’s output for complex tasks.

How does prompt engineering contribute to the advancement of AI technology?

Prompt engineering advances AI technology by refining how we interact with and utilize AI. AI models like ChatGPT can be more user-friendly, versatile, and integrated into various sectors of society through the effective prompting of input data.

Takeaways on Prompt Engineering

Best of luck in upping your prompt engineering skills. Just remember these key tips:

  • Iterative approach: Start broad with prompts and gradually refine based on AI’s responses, adjusting and sculpting outcomes.
  • Specificity matters: Provide detailed context to elicit more tailored and accurate answers from the AI.
  • Know Your Audience: Clarify who the content is intended for to get the most relevant responses.
  • Set parameters: Clearly outline the desired length, format, and other constraints for optimal results.
  • Determine the voice: Define the desired tone or style, from professional to playful, or even mimicking a specific person.
  • Ethical responsibility: Ensure all prompts are crafted with ethical considerations, recognizing the AI’s neutrality.

And if you’re curious about the future of AI, you might enjoy this fascinating article that explores the key elements of social psychology that AI will eventually have to learn.

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