March 14, 2024

How to write AI prompts: 5 expert tips

Having trouble creating good content with AI? Discover how to write AI prompts with these examples, tips, and tricks.
March 14, 2024

How to write AI prompts: 5 expert tips

Having trouble creating good content with AI? Discover how to write AI prompts with these examples, tips, and tricks.
March 14, 2024
Mina Son
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Regardless of your views on robots and artificial intelligence, chances are you use AI every day. This article, for example, was brought to you by Google’s AI. You searched for something online, and the bot surfaced it for you.

AI is all around us, too. If you’re using a productivity tool, it’s likely powered by AI. Those personalized shopping recommendations? AI. Your Grammarly editor? Also AI.

So it makes sense for creators to learn how to use AI, too. Not only can it make you more efficient, it can also make you more creative.

Here’s the thing: AI is a tool, and a tool is only as good as the person using it. If you don’t understand the purpose of a tool or how best to use it, you’re not going to get the results you want or need—it won’t matter how good of an AI model you’re working with. It’s like playing a guitar when you’ve never taken a lesson.

This article will go over everything you need to know to get the results you want from AI chatbots, including expert tips and examples of good prompt ideas.

What are AI prompts?

An AI prompt is the text you feed to an AI model (like OpenAI’s ChatGPT) to create a specific outcome or response. You can use AI prompts for various reasons, like generating text, creating images, analyzing business metrics, or summarizing content. 

The effectiveness of your AI prompt depends on two things:

  • How clearly it communicates your intent. Whether you are asking for an explanation or an analysis, being direct and clear helps the AI know what you want. You can specify the format (bullet points, summary) and the type of explanation (simple, detailed, targeted for a specific knowledge level) to tailor each response. 
  • How well it’s structured. Large language models like ChatGPT do really well with step-by-step instructions. If your task is complicated, breaking it down into steps and stages will help the chatbot return the best result for your purposes.

5 tips and tricks to create AI prompts

Prompt engineering is the practice of writing AI prompts in a way that gets the very best result from the AI. Understanding those nuances will help you reach the full potential of your tool. Here are five tips for writing better prompts. 

Be specific

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is being too vague when writing a prompt for an AI tool. Start with a concise overview of what you're asking for, followed by any specific details or constraints. 

Consider the two following prompts. The bad prompt is too vague, while the good one is detailed and clear:

  • 🔴 Bad AI prompt: Hi ChatGPT, explain how photosynthesis works.
  • 🟢 Good AI prompt: Explain how photosynthesis works in simple terms for a middle school science project, focusing on the steps involved and its importance to the ecosystem.

If you have more complex questions, break them out into step-by-step instructions. For example, "First, summarize the plot of 'Romeo and Juliet.' Then, analyze the main themes and discuss their relevance today.” In fact, literally typing “step-by-step” into your prompt has been shown to improve the results.

Understand your AI tool

There are different models of AI, and if you don't know what they’re capable of, it's difficult to use them effectively. For example, with ChatGPT-4, you can now generate images with DALL·E, browse the internet, and even upload images and data for it to analyze. But you have to know how to prompt it, as noted above.

🤖 Read more: ChatGPT can see, hear, and speak now — here's how to make the best of it

If you’re using an AI-powered video creation tool, the prompts are a little different. Instead of asking for explanations, you’ll focus on providing detailed visual and narrative descriptions that guide the AI in generating specific scenes, characters, and actions.

AI-powered video editors like Descript are a whole other ballgame. Rather than entering prompts, you’ll click menu items. If you want to generate a voiceover, you can create an AI-generated script in minutes and have a stock speaker read the text.

GIF of user using Descipt’s AI script generator.

You can also generate images with text prompts for your content in Descript. Whenever you enter a prompt, Descript generates 3 AI images you can add to a scene you're building. 

Annotated image of user creating images in Descript
Generate images for your content in 5 steps with Descript.

Descript also offers a ton of different AI Actions to speed up your video workflows, such as:

As with any generative AI tool, it’s important to remember that the results can be factually incorrect or just odd. Don’t trust it blindly, and be sure to double-check any new information it spits out.

‎‎Ask open-ended questions

You're more likely to get a binary answer if you ask a true or false question. Ask open-ended questions if you want to take advantage of all an AI offers. Instead of asking, "Is running good for you?" ask, "What are the pros and cons of running every day?" 

Include contextual information

Yes, large language models like ChatGPT can understand and communicate in natural language, but they don’t necessarily understand the context of what you're asking. Add some background to your question if you want more than a general or vague answer. This helps the AI to "understand" the query better and tailor its response accordingly. 

For example, instead of saying “Write an invitation to a kid’s birthday party,” you could say, "I have a son named Logan who’s turning 5 soon. We’re planning a birthday party for him on June 1st at my home in Boston, and the invite list is close friends and family. Write a party invitation to be sent via email.”

If you’re not sure what information the AI needs, you can even do a role reversal with an advanced prompt called the Flipped Interaction Pattern. In this case, you’d say “From now on, I would like you to ask me questions in order to write an invitation to a kid’s birthday party. When you have enough information, use my answers to write the invitation.” Then the chatbot will ask you questions about the task until it’s ready to complete the query.

Create feedback loops

Say you prompt the AI, and the response isn't exactly what you were looking for. That's common in AI-generated content creation, mainly because most tools are new.

Don’t give up. Help the AI learn from the interaction and provide feedback or further clarify your request. You can say something like, “You mentioned X, but I was really looking for information on Y. Could you explain that part?"

7 AI prompt examples

There is no one-size-fits-all option for AI prompts. The tips above will give you a nice head start in getting better answers from tools like ChatGPT

To further help you out, here are three types of AI prompts and seven examples to give you a better idea of how to get ChatGPT to do what you ask.

✍️ Get better: 3 ways to get ChatGPT to write like you 

Social media prompts

Digital marketing content

AI can help you get creative and even provide some laughs. If you’re celebrating National Pirate’s Day, for example, you can generate a few fun ideas for content. 

AI generated response to a social media prompt

Helpful tips

Want to create a series of posts about helpful tips for your audience? Ask ChatGPT to generate some ideas. Give it a specific audience, as in the dog training prompt below, so the AI can give you more detailed results. 

Screenshot of AI-generated response to social media prompt about helpful tips

Promotional

If you’re promoting an upcoming event, you can ask ChatGPT to produce a description for your post. While the prompt below is short on details, the AI still understands how to promote a Kimchi stew cooking class. You just need to fill in the blanks and tweak the response to meet your needs.

AI-generated response to a prompt asking for a promotional ad

Lesson content prompts

Course outline

Using AI is a great way to organize a lesson or course you want to teach. Be specific, include the demographic you’re targeting, and include the takeaways your students should learn from the lesson.

Here’s an example of an outline for a course about retirement planning. 

AI-generate response to a prompt about creating a lesson plan for a retirement course

Lesson plan

ChatGPT can also create lesson plans. The yoga-focused prompt below revealed a detailed lesson plan with elements like duration, equipment needed, structure, and teaching tips for beginners. 

A yoga lesson plan generated by ChatGPT

Data analysis prompts

Chart analysis 

You can use ChatGPT Vision to read charts and graphs when doing research. In the following prompt, we provided multiple images for data analysis and asked the AI to report on them.

AI-generated response from ChatGPT for analyzing the data in three charts.

Dashboard analysis

Next, we added a more complex image: an ecommerce KPI dashboard. We used ChatGPT to help us understand each element and its meaning. 

Image of ai-generated response for understanding an ecommerce dashboard

File analysis

ChatGPT also reads .xls or .csv files. Just upload a file, then explain what you want to do with the data. For example, we asked ChatGPT to analyze Tesla trading data from the past week, and then made a table out of the results. 

Image of ChatGPT reading a .csv file and creating results in a table.

After that, you can ask ChatGPT to analyze your data and find trends. For example, ChatGPT found that Tesla's stock fluctuated daily, revealing its volatility, and that it was in an upward trend over the observed period. The analysis is much better than most beginners can do on their own. 

👉 Get detailed prompt ideas and templates by reading 100+ ChatGPT prompts for creators: Speed up your workflow with AI

Create the best AI content with Descript

If you’re a content creator, it’s a good idea to find an all-in-one tool like Descript. With Descript's ever-growing AI tool kit, you can do anything from writing social posts and video descriptions to finding video clips and adding captions to your projects. 

Descript also allows you to record, edit, and publish video and audio content, all from the same place. It offers a bunch of tools like instant transcription, filler word removal, and a green screen editor to make your video content stand out. 

If you’re stuck on something, you can use Descript’s AI sidekick, Ask AI, for help. It comes with preset actions for summarizing content, generating titles, writing video scripts, and brainstorming new episode ideas. A tool like this will help you save time so you can focus on being creative and growing your business. 

GIF showing how to use Descript’s AI actions.

Want to harness the power of Descript’s AI toolkit? Sign for up for a free account today, where all premium features come standard.

How to write AI prompts FAQ

What are the best practices in AI prompt creation?

Some best practices in AI prompt creation include:

  • Being clear and specific about what the AI should generate
  • Using precise language to avoid ambiguity
  • Providing context or examples to guide the AI’s output
  • Structuring your prompt to help the AI understand and follow instructions

What are some tips for writing effective AI prompts?

Some tips for writing effective AI prompts and getting your desired output are:

  1. Start with a clear objective or question
  2. Break down complex questions into smaller, simpler parts
  3. Provide examples or the format you’d like your response in
  4. Ask the AI to clarify or try again if the initial response isn’t good enough
  5. Make your language as descriptive as possible

What is an example of a generative AI prompt?

An example of an AI prompt could be: "Create a script for a scene set in a mystical forest outside of New York, where two rival magicians, influenced by the style of Shakespearean dialogue, confront each other to resolve an ancient feud. Include eloquent soliloquies that reveal their inner conflicts, witty exchanges that showcase their rivalrous relationship, and a dramatic resolution that reflects the themes of power, betrayal, and reconciliation." This prompt gives the AI a clear genre, setting, and narrative element, so it's guided in its creation.

Mina Son
Mina is a writer, video game narrative designer, and all-around word nerd. When not writing, she embarks on adventures with her husky, Moro.
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How to write AI prompts: 5 expert tips

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Regardless of your views on robots and artificial intelligence, chances are you use AI every day. This article, for example, was brought to you by Google’s AI. You searched for something online, and the bot surfaced it for you.

AI is all around us, too. If you’re using a productivity tool, it’s likely powered by AI. Those personalized shopping recommendations? AI. Your Grammarly editor? Also AI.

So it makes sense for creators to learn how to use AI, too. Not only can it make you more efficient, it can also make you more creative.

Here’s the thing: AI is a tool, and a tool is only as good as the person using it. If you don’t understand the purpose of a tool or how best to use it, you’re not going to get the results you want or need—it won’t matter how good of an AI model you’re working with. It’s like playing a guitar when you’ve never taken a lesson.

This article will go over everything you need to know to get the results you want from AI chatbots, including expert tips and examples of good prompt ideas.

What are AI prompts?

An AI prompt is the text you feed to an AI model (like OpenAI’s ChatGPT) to create a specific outcome or response. You can use AI prompts for various reasons, like generating text, creating images, analyzing business metrics, or summarizing content. 

The effectiveness of your AI prompt depends on two things:

  • How clearly it communicates your intent. Whether you are asking for an explanation or an analysis, being direct and clear helps the AI know what you want. You can specify the format (bullet points, summary) and the type of explanation (simple, detailed, targeted for a specific knowledge level) to tailor each response. 
  • How well it’s structured. Large language models like ChatGPT do really well with step-by-step instructions. If your task is complicated, breaking it down into steps and stages will help the chatbot return the best result for your purposes.

5 tips and tricks to create AI prompts

Prompt engineering is the practice of writing AI prompts in a way that gets the very best result from the AI. Understanding those nuances will help you reach the full potential of your tool. Here are five tips for writing better prompts. 

Be specific

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is being too vague when writing a prompt for an AI tool. Start with a concise overview of what you're asking for, followed by any specific details or constraints. 

Consider the two following prompts. The bad prompt is too vague, while the good one is detailed and clear:

  • 🔴 Bad AI prompt: Hi ChatGPT, explain how photosynthesis works.
  • 🟢 Good AI prompt: Explain how photosynthesis works in simple terms for a middle school science project, focusing on the steps involved and its importance to the ecosystem.

If you have more complex questions, break them out into step-by-step instructions. For example, "First, summarize the plot of 'Romeo and Juliet.' Then, analyze the main themes and discuss their relevance today.” In fact, literally typing “step-by-step” into your prompt has been shown to improve the results.

Understand your AI tool

There are different models of AI, and if you don't know what they’re capable of, it's difficult to use them effectively. For example, with ChatGPT-4, you can now generate images with DALL·E, browse the internet, and even upload images and data for it to analyze. But you have to know how to prompt it, as noted above.

🤖 Read more: ChatGPT can see, hear, and speak now — here's how to make the best of it

If you’re using an AI-powered video creation tool, the prompts are a little different. Instead of asking for explanations, you’ll focus on providing detailed visual and narrative descriptions that guide the AI in generating specific scenes, characters, and actions.

AI-powered video editors like Descript are a whole other ballgame. Rather than entering prompts, you’ll click menu items. If you want to generate a voiceover, you can create an AI-generated script in minutes and have a stock speaker read the text.

GIF of user using Descipt’s AI script generator.

You can also generate images with text prompts for your content in Descript. Whenever you enter a prompt, Descript generates 3 AI images you can add to a scene you're building. 

Annotated image of user creating images in Descript
Generate images for your content in 5 steps with Descript.

Descript also offers a ton of different AI Actions to speed up your video workflows, such as:

As with any generative AI tool, it’s important to remember that the results can be factually incorrect or just odd. Don’t trust it blindly, and be sure to double-check any new information it spits out.

‎‎Ask open-ended questions

You're more likely to get a binary answer if you ask a true or false question. Ask open-ended questions if you want to take advantage of all an AI offers. Instead of asking, "Is running good for you?" ask, "What are the pros and cons of running every day?" 

Include contextual information

Yes, large language models like ChatGPT can understand and communicate in natural language, but they don’t necessarily understand the context of what you're asking. Add some background to your question if you want more than a general or vague answer. This helps the AI to "understand" the query better and tailor its response accordingly. 

For example, instead of saying “Write an invitation to a kid’s birthday party,” you could say, "I have a son named Logan who’s turning 5 soon. We’re planning a birthday party for him on June 1st at my home in Boston, and the invite list is close friends and family. Write a party invitation to be sent via email.”

If you’re not sure what information the AI needs, you can even do a role reversal with an advanced prompt called the Flipped Interaction Pattern. In this case, you’d say “From now on, I would like you to ask me questions in order to write an invitation to a kid’s birthday party. When you have enough information, use my answers to write the invitation.” Then the chatbot will ask you questions about the task until it’s ready to complete the query.

Create feedback loops

Say you prompt the AI, and the response isn't exactly what you were looking for. That's common in AI-generated content creation, mainly because most tools are new.

Don’t give up. Help the AI learn from the interaction and provide feedback or further clarify your request. You can say something like, “You mentioned X, but I was really looking for information on Y. Could you explain that part?"

7 AI prompt examples

There is no one-size-fits-all option for AI prompts. The tips above will give you a nice head start in getting better answers from tools like ChatGPT

To further help you out, here are three types of AI prompts and seven examples to give you a better idea of how to get ChatGPT to do what you ask.

✍️ Get better: 3 ways to get ChatGPT to write like you 

Social media prompts

Digital marketing content

AI can help you get creative and even provide some laughs. If you’re celebrating National Pirate’s Day, for example, you can generate a few fun ideas for content. 

AI generated response to a social media prompt

Helpful tips

Want to create a series of posts about helpful tips for your audience? Ask ChatGPT to generate some ideas. Give it a specific audience, as in the dog training prompt below, so the AI can give you more detailed results. 

Screenshot of AI-generated response to social media prompt about helpful tips

Promotional

If you’re promoting an upcoming event, you can ask ChatGPT to produce a description for your post. While the prompt below is short on details, the AI still understands how to promote a Kimchi stew cooking class. You just need to fill in the blanks and tweak the response to meet your needs.

AI-generated response to a prompt asking for a promotional ad

Lesson content prompts

Course outline

Using AI is a great way to organize a lesson or course you want to teach. Be specific, include the demographic you’re targeting, and include the takeaways your students should learn from the lesson.

Here’s an example of an outline for a course about retirement planning. 

AI-generate response to a prompt about creating a lesson plan for a retirement course

Lesson plan

ChatGPT can also create lesson plans. The yoga-focused prompt below revealed a detailed lesson plan with elements like duration, equipment needed, structure, and teaching tips for beginners. 

A yoga lesson plan generated by ChatGPT

Data analysis prompts

Chart analysis 

You can use ChatGPT Vision to read charts and graphs when doing research. In the following prompt, we provided multiple images for data analysis and asked the AI to report on them.

AI-generated response from ChatGPT for analyzing the data in three charts.

Dashboard analysis

Next, we added a more complex image: an ecommerce KPI dashboard. We used ChatGPT to help us understand each element and its meaning. 

Image of ai-generated response for understanding an ecommerce dashboard

File analysis

ChatGPT also reads .xls or .csv files. Just upload a file, then explain what you want to do with the data. For example, we asked ChatGPT to analyze Tesla trading data from the past week, and then made a table out of the results. 

Image of ChatGPT reading a .csv file and creating results in a table.

After that, you can ask ChatGPT to analyze your data and find trends. For example, ChatGPT found that Tesla's stock fluctuated daily, revealing its volatility, and that it was in an upward trend over the observed period. The analysis is much better than most beginners can do on their own. 

👉 Get detailed prompt ideas and templates by reading 100+ ChatGPT prompts for creators: Speed up your workflow with AI

Create the best AI content with Descript

If you’re a content creator, it’s a good idea to find an all-in-one tool like Descript. With Descript's ever-growing AI tool kit, you can do anything from writing social posts and video descriptions to finding video clips and adding captions to your projects. 

Descript also allows you to record, edit, and publish video and audio content, all from the same place. It offers a bunch of tools like instant transcription, filler word removal, and a green screen editor to make your video content stand out. 

If you’re stuck on something, you can use Descript’s AI sidekick, Ask AI, for help. It comes with preset actions for summarizing content, generating titles, writing video scripts, and brainstorming new episode ideas. A tool like this will help you save time so you can focus on being creative and growing your business. 

GIF showing how to use Descript’s AI actions.

Want to harness the power of Descript’s AI toolkit? Sign for up for a free account today, where all premium features come standard.

How to write AI prompts FAQ

What are the best practices in AI prompt creation?

Some best practices in AI prompt creation include:

  • Being clear and specific about what the AI should generate
  • Using precise language to avoid ambiguity
  • Providing context or examples to guide the AI’s output
  • Structuring your prompt to help the AI understand and follow instructions

What are some tips for writing effective AI prompts?

Some tips for writing effective AI prompts and getting your desired output are:

  1. Start with a clear objective or question
  2. Break down complex questions into smaller, simpler parts
  3. Provide examples or the format you’d like your response in
  4. Ask the AI to clarify or try again if the initial response isn’t good enough
  5. Make your language as descriptive as possible

What is an example of a generative AI prompt?

An example of an AI prompt could be: "Create a script for a scene set in a mystical forest outside of New York, where two rival magicians, influenced by the style of Shakespearean dialogue, confront each other to resolve an ancient feud. Include eloquent soliloquies that reveal their inner conflicts, witty exchanges that showcase their rivalrous relationship, and a dramatic resolution that reflects the themes of power, betrayal, and reconciliation." This prompt gives the AI a clear genre, setting, and narrative element, so it's guided in its creation.

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