Hacking Your AI Assistant: How to Craft Prompts for Optimal Results

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by Tyler Kelley

So you’ve got an AI writing assistant like ChatGPT at your fingertips. Pretty neat, right? But to really unlock its potential, you need to master the art of serving up the right prompts. Think of it like conversing with a friend (albeit a robot one) - the more clear and specific you are, the better the outcome.

After all, AI is only as smart as the instructions you give it. With some targeted tuning, you can level up from basic autocomplete to outputs that are truly customized for your needs. Let’s explore some simple but powerful ways to get your AI assistant firing on all cylinders.

Give Your AI Some Character

First, put your AI in character by assigning a specific persona. Before making your content request, describe who you want your AI to pretend to be. Give the persona a name, profession, background, expertise etc.

This little act of roleplaying focuses the AI and results in responses better aligned to that character. For example:

“Imagine you are Dr. Strangelove, a quirky astrophysicist specializing in black holes. You are giving a lecture on space colonization to undergrad students.”
The AI will now reply as if it is the eccentric Dr. Strangelove. You can prompt further tailoring questions to the persona:
“Dr. Strangelove, what technological innovations would be needed for humans to colonize Mars?”

Tune the Tone

Also specify the persona’s demeanor - are they formal, funny, concise? Adding something like “You are a pragmatic lawyer known for brevity” further dials in the tone you need.

Ask Questions for Elaboration

Leverage questions starting with “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why” to elicit detailed responses from your AI partner. Open-ended questions work much better than yes/no ones.

“When and where was pizza first invented? How did it evolve into its modern global form?”

Set the Right Reading Level

Want your content digestible for a 9th grade audience? Simply specify:
“Please adjust that last response to a 9th grade reading level.”

The AI will continue within the adjusted level until you indicate otherwise.

Request Step-by-Step Instructions

Ask directly for numbered steps or a bulleted list when you need ultra clear, logical guidance:

“Provide step-by-step instructions for setting up a new blog on WordPress including all prerequisites.”

Avoid Jargon and Acronyms

Improve clarity by minimizing technical terms and spelling out acronyms to reach broader audiences. Define terms where needed.

Use Exclusions

Don’t want certain words or phrases used? Add “--no [excluded words]” to your prompt.

Check for Logical Consistency

Scan output to ensure information logically connects across sentences and paragraphs. Reread prior context if needed.

Iterate Quickly

Refine and adjust your prompts based on the results - your AI assistant will continuously improve.

The key is remembering your AI needs clear direction to produce exactly what you require. Approach it as an intelligent friend eager to help - if you take a few minutes to explain the context and details you need. With practice, you’ll be customizing truly stellar content in no time!

Tyler Kelley is the Co-founder and Chief Strategist of SLAM! Agency, where he helps mission-driven organizations and innovative businesses amplify their impact to drive meaningful change. In this column, Tyler provides actionable insights to help businesses and leaders navigate our increasingly AI-driven world.