From Junk to Genius: Crafting AI Prompts that Get Results!

by Frank Kenny

· Local Commerce,Artificial Intelligence,Marketing

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its use in creating content, many people are getting caught up in its ease of use. AI tools are taking hours off of content projects, producing text, video, images, summaries, and so much more in a fraction of the time the fastest worker could produce them. While this has been a great time saver for many, content produced this way can be bland and uninspiring if you don't edit it. But, how much time you spend editing depends largely on the quality of the AI output.

You'll never get top quality output without a good prompt. What you put in is directly related to what you get out. Like any good recipe the quality of the ingredients impacts the deliciousness of the dish. If you want to maximize your time using AI, you need to master creating the perfect prompt for what you're looking for.

So how do you do that?

We’ll get into that in a bit but in the meantime, let’s focus on what we mean by AI and how you can choose the best one for your project.

Which AI Is Right for You?

First, just like assistants, AIs aren’t all the same. Some have “read” more of the web content out there. Others specialize in certain types of work like SEO or images. There are paid versions and free versions. Additionally, their tones/regular output may be different. Find one you like that is easy (for you) to work with.

Plus, AIs are always releasing new versions. When Bard was first released by Google, it stunk. Gemini is much better. If you tried something a few months ago, give it another go. It might meet more of your needs now. Play around with a variety of AIs in the same way you might test drive a car.

It's likely after experimenting, you'll select a favorite, but it probably won’t meet all your needs.

AI is a broad term that encompasses a lot of assistants. Alexa and Siri are AIs as is ChatGPT and Gemini. Grammarly has an AI component. MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Canva have AIs. The Hyatt hotel chain has an AI with intonations that were so lifelike, I started a conversation with “him” before I realized he was just a little too cheerful to be “real.”

In this article, we’re referring to AI that generates written content. That includes ChatGPT, Gemini, Jasper, and Claude, to name a few. However, the suggestions on prompt writing can be used across the board for all AI-generated content production.

Follow these simple steps to creating prompts that get you the best return.​

How to Create the Best Prompts According to AI

If we're going to talk about AI, we should begin by asking its own advice and how it can return the best results for us. Here is what Google Gemini told me:

Crafting the best AI prompt requires understanding the AI's capabilities and limitations, while also clearly communicating your desired outcome. (Simple enough, right? Okay, that part is me being human. In the section below I’ve added my commentary in bolded parentheses. The key elements were AI-generated.)

Here are some key elements to consider:

Be Clear and Concise

Avoid vague language or overly complex sentences. The AI needs to understand exactly what you're asking it to do. (If you provide a vague notion of what you need like “write a press release for the ice cream store” AI will not type back, “Gee, dumb human. Think ya forgot something.” It will make it up. As in completely fabricate details. Sometimes that’s fine. Other times it will get you into trouble. Details matter.)

Specificity Is Key

The more specific your prompt, the better the AI can tailor its response to your needs.

Example: Instead of "Write a story," try "Write a science fiction short story about a team of astronauts stranded on a deserted moon."​

Provide Context

Give the AI enough background information to understand the situation and your desired tone. (Context is important but you may also find that AI doesn’t understand some context. I asked AI to write an essay for an audience of middle-aged women. In the essay, AI repeated the phrase “middle-aged women” as often as if it was the name of the person reading the blog i.e., “Middle-aged women, do you like that?” It was not a great fit. So, I changed it to women in their 40s.” Very similar results.

No matter how well it may write a sentence, it can’t comprehend—yet—what middle-aged women want or how they want to be spoken to. Perhaps that is because it doesn’t understand stereotypes.

If there’s a tone you want to use in your piece, give it an example such as an article you like. Don’t rely on its ability to understand challenging concepts like tone as it reflects age. Instead, use concrete understandable concepts like below:)

Example: "Imagine a press release announcing the launch of a new eco-friendly product line for a company known for its commitment to sustainability."​

Give Instructions

Tell the AI what format you want the output in (e.g., poem, email, script, code). Specify the desired length, style (e.g., formal, humorous), or any other relevant details. (If you have a specific output or format you want, you can even upload details to it. For instance, if you loved the way/format another chamber wrote their newsletter content, upload it as an example and tell the AI you want it in the same style.)

Describe Your Target Audience

Who will be reading or using the AI-generated content? Tailor the tone and style accordingly. (Again, try to avoid stereotypes. AI just can’t deliver. It also has a hard time getting humor right. It airs on the side of silly. In my experience, telling it you’re targeting people under 25 also creates an unprofessional mess of slang terms. Be specific and upload something that you like. It does formal writing well. Funny for a machine is as difficult as asking someone to explain what they find humorous. It’s a concept that is hard to pinpoint.)

Example: This social media post is for a young audience, consider using more informal language and emojis.

Provide Examples

If you have a specific style or tone in mind, share examples (articles, websites, etc.) to help the AI understand your preference.

Use Keywords

Include relevant keywords that the AI can use to generate content related to your topic. (Often, I will write “Use SEO best practices” but if you don’t tell it what keywords you want to focus on, it will guess. If you say you’re writing for the chamber, perhaps it will optimize for chamber of commerce, perhaps chamber music.)

Start with a Basic Prompt

Don't overwhelm the AI with too much information at first. (I’m going to disagree with the machine here. It’s not the information that throws it off, it’s all the rest of the junk. Don’t be afraid to give it all the information you have but do it in simple sentences. The AI chugs when you use a lot of filler speech. Keep to just what you need. One of my colleagues wrote a prompt that was much longer than the report language it was asking the AI to generate. He used a lot of pertinent details. But once he created this very detailed prompt, he could use it over and over with a few changes. Speaking of…)

Refine Your Prompt

Review the AI's output and adjust your prompt as needed to get closer to your desired result. This might involve adding more details, adjusting the tone, or changing the format.

Additional Tips

  • ​Use a positive tone: The AI is more likely to generate positive and creative content if your prompt is phrased positively. (Don’t we all need more positivity in our lives?)
  • ​Break down complex tasks: For complex tasks, consider breaking them down into smaller, more manageable prompts for the AI.
  • Use tools and resources: Many AI platforms offer tutorials and resources to help you craft effective prompts.​

AI Prompt Summary

As AI would write, “In conclusion…” here’s what you should be telling AI for the best content generation:

Format (press release, chapter, email, etc.) + acting as if (include any details/parameters that are important such as “chamber pro” or “small town” or “on a budget”) + audience + do’s and don’ts about the project + example of tone

Review what it produces and give it suggestions such as “Keep the first paragraph. Make the second one warmer and more engaging.”

Again, your AI will make things up if it doesn’t know or understand so use a prompt that reads, “Tell me what else you need to do this.”

I used AI to write the conclusion and it suggested....

By following these steps and experimenting with different approaches, you can become adept at crafting prompts that get the best results out of your chosen AI tool. Remember, the more information and guidance you provide, the better the AI can understand your needs and generate the content you desire. (All true but boring. So I told AI "more flare and excitement" and it wrote…)

Unleash the power of AI like a pro! These steps are your secret weapon to crafting prompts that ignite the AI's potential. Experiment, tweak, and watch as your chosen AI tool transforms from a blank slate into a creative powerhouse, generating content that hits the bullseye every time. Remember, the more details you provide, the more the AI can read your mind (almost)! So buckle up, get specific, and prepare to be amazed by the results!

(Okay, maybe not quite that exciting. Buckling up is probably not a requirement but you can have a lot of fun with AI.)

Extra Tip from Frank: Use my 4 step prompt framework

​1) give it a role - You are an accountant

​2) give it a goal - I need to understand how UBIT works for a chamber of commerce.

​3) Set restrictions - Explain it in layman's terms.

​​4) Format - Keep it short