Ask your task better: writing prompts for conversational Generative AI

The digital realm is a whirlwind of innovations, and riding high among them is conversational Generative AI. As with any technology, the tool is only as good as its user. In the case of Generative AI, this means the importance of posing the right questions or, to be precise, writing effective prompts.

1. Understand Your AI’s Capabilities

Navigating the intricate landscape of Generative AI reveals its paradoxical nature. Its vast knowledge base is commendable, giving us insights at our fingertips. However, it's essential to recognize its confines. AI operates on its training, deriving answers from a set pool of data.

Example: If you prompt the AI about a recent event post its last update, it might not provide current specifics but will offer general context based on its last training.


  • Familiarize yourself with the AI's training cut-off.
  • Ask questions within the AI's known timeline.


  • Expect real-time updates.
  • Assume the AI is omnipotent.

2. Be Specific and Direct

Ambiguity might lend charm to poetry, but with AI, clarity is the key. The distinction between a vague and direct question can often dictate the response's quality.

Example: "Tell me about climate change?" might offer a broad overview. In contrast, "What are the causes and effects of climate change in the 21st century?" will guide the AI to provide a more tailored response.


  • Use specific keywords.
  • Provide clear context when necessary.


  • Use open-ended statements.
  • Expect the AI to always discern the crux of vague questions.

3. Context Matters

Think of context as a compass for AI. Without it, the AI might go off tangent, producing results that might not align with your expectations.

Example: If you start by discussing Shakespeare and suddenly ask, "What's his most famous work?", the AI will know you're referring to Shakespeare. However, without prior context, a prompt like "What's his most famous work?" could refer to any male figure in history.


  • Maintain a conversational flow.
  • Reference back to prior subjects when necessary.


  • Jump between topics without clear transitions.
  • Assume the AI always remembers long past prompts.

4. Experiment and Refine

Perfection with AI prompts is an iterative process. The nuances of language and specifics of a question can make a vast difference in the response.

Example: If "Describe solar energy?" fetches a too-basic answer, refining it to "What are the technical advancements in solar energy in the past decade?" can narrow it down.


  • Test different phrasing structures.
  • Seek feedback from peers on your prompts.


  • Settle on the first response.
  • Get discouraged by non-ideal answers.

5. Safety and Ethical Considerations:

The vastness of digital information brings a mix of facts and biases. Generative AI, despite its brilliance, isn't foolproof. It's crucial to handle its outputs with a discerning mind.

Example: If you ask, "What are stereotypes about a certain culture?", the AI might provide them. But always contextualize that these are stereotypes and not universally accepted truths.


  • Verify critical data from multiple sources.
  • Frame questions to avoid promoting harmful stereotypes.


  • Use AI-generated data as the sole basis for sensitive decisions.
  • Prompt the AI for potentially harmful or malicious content.

Some examples of prompts written better

Below is a Markdown table containing 20 entries showing the expected output, followed by a poorly typed prompt and the corrected prompt:

Expected Output Poorly Typed Prompt Correct Prompt
Health benefits of apples Tell bout apples? What are the health benefits of apples?
Overview of climate change in the 21st century Climate stuff now? Can you provide an overview of climate change in the 21st century?
Solar energy advancements in the last decade solar energy new? What are the technical advancements in solar energy over the past decade?
The life of William Shakespeare that old writer guy? Can you tell me about the life of William Shakespeare?
Introduction to Quantum Physics quantum thingy? Can you provide an introduction to Quantum Physics?
Recipe for chocolate chip cookies choco chips cook how? How do you make chocolate chip cookies?
Current president of the United States who president US now? Who is the current president of the United States?
History of the Eiffel Tower big paris metal thing history? Can you provide a history of the Eiffel Tower?
Mozart's most famous compositions mozart top song? What are some of Mozart's most famous compositions?
Latest advancements in AI new AI stuff? What are the latest advancements in Artificial Intelligence?
Causes of World War I Why first big war? What were the primary causes of World War I?
Overview of Greek mythology greek old stories? Can you provide an overview of Greek mythology?
Effects of global warming on polar bears Polar bears hot? How does global warming affect polar bears?
The plot of "Pride and Prejudice" That old book story? What is the plot of "Pride and Prejudice"?
How photosynthesis works plants sun how? Can you explain how photosynthesis works?
Biography of Albert Einstein smart hair guy life? Can you tell me about the life and achievements of Albert Einstein?
Principles of aerodynamics How planes fly? What are the basic principles of aerodynamics?
Causes and effects of the Great Depression why 1930s sad times? What were the causes and effects of the Great Depression?
Main events in the Renaissance period Old art period stuff? Can you list the main events during the Renaissance period?
The theory of relativity explained Einstein thing explain? Can you explain Einstein's theory of relativity?

This table shows how to refine their prompts for more accurate results when using conversational AI.

In the expansive realm of digital interactions, AI emerges as a game-changer. Its potential, though, is harnessed not just by interacting, but by refining our art of interaction. Crafting better prompts is not just a skill; it's the key to unlocking AI's treasure trove of insights.