11 Easy Steps for Improving Your Chatbot Prompts

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Strategy and Marketing Lead
Apr 17, 2023

This past week the Integrity Content Team attended a lecture by Washington University in St. Louis Professor Ruopeng An to learn more about writing effective ChatGPT prompts to boost productivity. 

An teaches courses on artificial intelligence and data science and serves as the chair for the Artificial Intelligence Applications for Health Data Post-Masters Certificate and the Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics for Public Health Certificate programs at WashU. He recently used AI to study an enormous trove of tweets to assess people’s attitudes toward soda taxes

It was a great afternoon of learning. Here are some examples that expand on An’s tips to supercharge your Chatbot prompt writing. 

1. Be Specific and Clear

When prompting ChatGPT, it's essential to be specific and clear about what information you are looking for. Vague or ambiguous questions may lead to inaccurate or irrelevant responses. 

Prompt: "What is the best restaurant?"

Improved Prompt: "What are some highly-rated Italian restaurants in St. Louis?"

2. Break Down Complex Questions into Simpler Parts 

If you have a complex question, breaking it down into simpler parts can help ChatGPT understand and provide a more accurate response. 

Prompt: "What is the impact of climate change on the global economy?" 

Improved Prompt: "How does climate change affect agriculture and food prices?"

3. Experiment with Different Prompt Formulations 

Trying different prompt formulations can help you get a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the AI chatbot. 

Example 1, Question: "What's a good recipe for gooey butter cake?"

Example 2, Command: "Give me a recipe for gooey butter cake."

4. Set the Context and Provide Instructions 

Providing context and instructions can help ChatGPT understand what information you are looking for and how to provide it.

Prompt: "Can you tell me how to make a chocolate cake?"

Improved prompt: "I want to make a chocolate cake for my friend's birthday party. Can you give me a recipe that serves 10 people and takes no longer than 2 hours to prepare?"

5. Ask for Step-by-Step Explanations 

Prompt: "Can you explain how to implement a linear regression model in Python?"

Improved prompt: "I want to implement a linear regression model in Python for a small dataset. Can you provide step-by-step instructions for loading the dataset, preprocessing the data, splitting the data into training and testing sets, fitting the model, and making predictions?"

6. Ask for Pros/Cons: By asking for pros and cons, you're requesting information about the benefits and drawbacks of a specific topic.

Prompt: "Can you tell me about the keto diet?"

Improved prompt: "I'm interested in trying the keto diet, but I want to know more about its benefits and drawbacks. Can you provide me with the pros and cons of following a keto diet?"

7. Request Sources and Citations 

Asking for sources or citations can help you verify the accuracy of the information provided by the AI chatbot. This is particularly important when researching topics that require a high degree of accuracy, such as medical conditions, scientific theories, or historical events. 

Prompt: "Can you tell me about the causes and symptoms of depression?"

Improved prompt: "I'm doing research on depression and would like to know more about its causes and symptoms. Can you provide sources to support the information you provide?"

8. Ask for Alternative Viewpoints (arguments/counterarguments) 

Asking for alternative viewpoints can help you get a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of a topic. 

Prompt: "What are the benefits of using renewable energy?"

Improved prompt: "I'm interested in learning more about the benefits of renewable energy. Can you provide me with arguments for and against its use?"

9. Use Constraints to Control Response Length or Format 

Using constraints can help you control the length or format of the response provided by the AI chatbot.

Prompt: "Can you provide me with a meta description for my blog post about healthy eating?"

Improved prompt: "I'm looking for a meta description for my blog post about healthy eating, but it needs to be less than 155 characters. Can you provide a brief and engaging description?"

10. Provide Examples to Guide the Model 

Providing examples can help ChatGPT better understand what information you are looking for and how to provide it. 

Prompt: "Can you recommend a good movie for me to watch?"

Improved prompt: "I really enjoyed watching the movie Inception and The Prestige. Can you recommend a movie that is similar in terms of plot twists and mind-bending storytelling?"

11. Encourage Critical Thinking and Exploration

Like a good interviewer, ask open-ended questions that encourage critical thinking, which can lead to more interesting and informative responses from the AI chatbot. 

Prompt: "What's the capital of France?" 

Improved Prompt: "Why is Paris considered one of the world's most beautiful cities?"

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