Understanding AI Prompts: Enhancing Their Effectiveness

  • October 31, 2023
  • HowTo
  • 7 min read

What exactly are AI prompts?

An AI prompt is a query, command, or statement that you enter into an AI model to start a response or action using natural language processing.

The prompt initiates the model's production process, telling it to generate material that is relevant to what you're asking or asserting. With the emergence of AI tools, the quality of the prompt can have a significant impact on the quality and relevancy of the AI's output.

A prompt, in other words, is your way of educating the AI on what you want it to perform.

This may include asking it to generate text, solve a problem, answer a question, and so on. Advanced AI models can also handle tasks like picture prompting and text-to-image models.

For example, if you're using a text-based conversational AI like Ai-wordsmith's Chat, an example of an ai application, you may utilize prompts like:

  • "Generate a compelling story about a lost treasure and a daring adventure." 
  • "Compose a poetic piece about the tranquility of a serene forest at dawn." 
  • “Craft a short conversation between two historical figures meeting for the first time.”
Based on its training data and algorithms, the AI reads your prompt and strives to provide a suitable and relevant output.

Two characteristics of a powerful AI prompt

When it comes to generative AI and AI technologies, one of the most important components is creating the appropriate prompt. With millions of neurons buzzing in these powerful algorithms, it's critical to understand how to efficiently harness that power.

This is where prompt engineers' and AI prompt engineers' competence comes into play.

That boils down to two crucial qualities your prompts must have: they must be "rich" as well as "specific."

In today's post, we'll go over what these phrases represent, why they're important, and how they can help you have a fulfilling AI experience with a variety of tools, including the generative ai tool.

Prompts from Rich

What exactly is a 'rich' prompt?

To put it simply, a rich prompt is like creating a vivid image with your words. It is about providing the AI model with a complete contextual palette to work with.

Mastering this notion is critical for individuals working in the field of AI prompt engineering.

Instead of asking the AI to "Write an email introduction," ask it to "Write an enthusiastic yet professional email introduction aimed at a prospect in the tech industry using your expertise in natural language processing."

Can you tell the difference? With the latter, you're providing the AI with critical input data that will allow it to build an accurate message.

Specific prompts

Now for our second quality cues factor: specificity.

Richness gives context, whereas specificity focuses on the job. It all comes down to giving a precise command that leaves no room for misinterpretation.

If your prompt is ambiguous, you're essentially asking the AI to fill in the spaces, and let's face it: no one likes a machine making assumptions about their job. This is where prompt engineers flourish, ensuring that AI tools follow particular directions.

Therefore, instead of asking for a "blog post about artificial intelligence," say, “Write a 500-word blog post highlighting three recent advancements in artificial intelligence for a general audience using text to image model techniques.”

Richness and specificity are not stand-alone concepts; they operate best together. Consider them to be two sides of the same coin. It is critical that individuals who create prompts realize this.

Richness sets the tone, giving a full backdrop for the AI.

Specificity, on the other hand, acts as your stage directions, instructing the AI on exactly what to do.

When both of these pieces work together, you're not simply asking the AI to make material; you're instructing it to generate the exact content you want using its AI models.

When will you know if your AI prompt is effective?

To determine whether a prompt is rich and specific, consider a few critical characteristics connected to AI prompt engineering.

First, does the suggestion use descriptive language and emotional words to construct a realistic picture? Rich prompts are jam-packed with information that assists AI systems in understanding the exact tone, style, and material you desire.

Second, is the prompt worded precisely? Specific prompts eliminate uncertainty and describe explicitly what you want the AI to generate.

They accurately annotate context and examples so that the AI, powered by natural language processing algorithms, understands how to use the input data.

Specific reminders also avoid using pronouns such as "it" or "this" without first establishing what they relate to.

Finally, am I required to make inferences or fill in gaps in order to comprehend the prompt? If this is the case, the prompt is probably not specific enough.

The more assumptions the AI (or a human) must make, the more potential for "covert failures" in which the outcome isn't exactly what you wanted. This is especially true when creating programming to automate AI operations.

The ideal prompt foresees potential areas of misunderstanding and tackles them to ensure that the meaning is crystal clear.

By mastering this skill, you will be able to compete with prompt engineers that specialize in generating efficient queries for AI models.

Should you include more examples in your prompts?

Yes, including instances of subjective terminology in your AI writing prompts can be quite beneficial.

This is due to the fact that words like "catchy," "high quality," and "effusive" can signify various things to different individuals. While AI writing helpers are getting better at comprehending nuance and context, while acting as a text to image model or generative AI tool, they still benefit from explicit examples.
Without examples, AI may have difficulty determining what you intend by a subjective descriptor.

It has to expend extra work trying to deduce your meaning, which reduces its ability to provide the material you desire. Providing examples provides new data for the AI.

The prompting process includes trial and error.

Prompting AI writing assistance becomes easier with practice.
However, presenting appropriate examples is still a vital strategy to assist express your goal and set the AI up for success, especially when utilizing subjective language.

Examples, paired with rich and specific language, are essential for constructing prompts that will produce the desired results.

Creating a list of adjectives and examples that work well for the system, using consistent language to refer to the same concepts, and structuring prompts like instructions for a very literal yet knowledgeable intern can all contribute to better outcomes that require less modification over time.

Prompting AI systems can become second nature with practice, especially as you become experienced in the art of AI prompt engineering.

Examples of rich and specific prompts

1. Unspecific Prompt: "Tell me about sales."

Simple Question: "Can you explain the primary stages in a B2B sales process and the strategies employed at each stage?"

Why: The initial prompt could elicit a generic response about sales in a variety of industries and circumstances.

The improved version focuses on the B2B (Business-to-Business) sales process, providing a more specific response and outlining the methods at each level.

2. Unspecific Prompt: "How do I market online?"

Simple Question: "What are the key components of an effective digital marketing strategy for a startup in the e-commerce fashion industry?"

Why: The question "How do I market online?" is wide and can apply to any sector or goal. We focus on a specific sector (e-commerce fashion) and business stage (startup) by refining it, which provides assistance on how to structure the answer.

3. Unspecific Prompt: "How do ads work?"

Simple Question: "Could you explain the mechanics and strategies behind creating a successful pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign on Google Ads for a new product launch?"

Why: Because "ads" might range from classic print ads to modern internet commercials, the original query is overly broad.

The updated question focuses on a specific type of internet advertising (PPC on Google Ads) in the context of a new product introduction.

4. Unspecific Prompt: "Help me with branding."

Simple Question: "What are the essential steps to develop a cohesive brand identity for a health and wellness company targeting millennials?"

Why: "Help me with branding" is ambiguous in terms of the particular need or target audience. The modified prompt wants advice on developing a brand identity, describes the industry (health and wellness), and identifies the target audience (millennials).

5. Unspecific Prompt: "How do I get leads?"

Simple Question: "What are some proven inbound marketing techniques to attract and convert high-quality leads for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company?"

Why: Simply asking for leads can be answered in a variety of ways, based on the industry, audience, and sales approach. The modified question highlights inbound marketing and narrows the context (SaaS), making the intended response more actionable and relevant.

When your output isn't up to par, how can you improve your prompts?

The wording of your query can have a significant impact on the quality and relevance of the response you receive.

Here are some pointers on how to improve your prompts when the results aren't what you expected:

1. Be precise

A generic or ambiguous prompt may elicit an equally ambiguous response. Try to be as specific as possible about your search.
  • Unspecific: Tell me about vehicles.
  • Specific: Can you explain the advantages and downsides of electric vehicles over traditional gasoline vehicles?

2. Describe the situation or criteria

Include any specific restrictions or constraints in the prompt if they should be addressed in the answer.
  • Without Context: how do I repair my computer?
  • With Context: How can I fix a Windows 10 PC that refuses to boot?

3. Specify the desired output format.

Mention your preference for how the answer should be formatted (list, paragraph, step-by-step instructions) in the question.
  • No Format: Explain time management to me.
  • Format: Could you share a list of time management practices that work?

4. Ask follow-up questions

A single query may not always be sufficient to get the full response you seek. To gain more depth or breadth, feel free to ask for clarification or follow-up questions.
  • Follow-Up: Can you go into further detail about the second strategy you mentioned?

5. Experiment with various phrases

The way you phrase your query can have an impact on the answer. If you're not obtaining what you want, try phrasing your query differently.
  • Original: How do I make money?
  • Alternative: What are some tried-and-true methods for raising my income?

6. Make use of keywords

If there are any terminology or jargon associated with the issue you're asking about, providing them may help you obtain a more relevant response.
  • Without Keywords: How can I improve my game?
  • Using Keywords: What strategies can help me enhance my chess endgame?

7. Restrict or expand the scope

Your inquiry may be overly broad or too narrow at times, reducing the usefulness of the answer. As needed, narrow the topic of your question.
  • Too broad: Tell me about history.
  • Too Narrow: Tell me about Jenkins' Ear War.
  • Corrected: Can you summarize the important conflicts in European history during the 18th century?

8. Examine for Ambiguity

If your inquiry can't be read in numerous ways, you might not get the response you want.
  • Ambiguous: How do I improve?
  • Unambiguous: How can I improve my writing abilities?
You're more likely to get results that meet your expectations if you carefully examine how you word your prompts.

Ready to get started? Sign up now and give a shot!