This article may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you use one of these links to make a purchase. Read the full disclosure.
It’s so rare for technology to blow my mind, but ChatGPT is pretty mind-blowing. At the time of writing this, ChatGPT has existing for a little over 6 weeks and it’s already changed the way I work.
I’m not exactly new to AI-generated text as I’ve been using OpenAI’s Beta API for some time, but the impressive ChatGPT interface makes it more accessible to everyone.
And boy, it is making waves right now in just about every industry.
But, did you know that there are certain ways to write your prompts in ChatGPT to get a more targeted and specific response?
Crafting effective prompts for ChatGPT is quickly becoming an artform.
If you want to fully unlock the potential of ChatGPT, it’s crucial to craft effective prompts to give ChatGPT a clear understanding of what you need.
Writing Prompts for ChatGPT: The Basics
You can phrase your prompts or questions in the same way that you would ask these questions in natural speech, but if you have a specific goal, longer prompts containing more information and detailed instructions are better than short, generic prompts.
My technique for writing prompts uses the following formula:
This technique is designed to give ChatGPT a clearer understanding of what it should do so you can get a less generic response.
That’s where the “context, task, instruction, clarify, refine” technique comes in, it is a simple yet powerful method for crafting exceptional ChatGPT prompts that deliver unique and accurate responses.
In this article, I’ll explain in more detail why, when dealing with ChatGPT, context is so important and how to provide specific instructions that will allow ChatGPT to deliver unique and accurate responses.
Free ChatGPT-Connected Google Sheet
I made a mass/bulk-prompting Google Sheet connected to ChatGPT 🎉
This uses the brand new gpt-3.5-turbo model that was launched in early March 2023.
You can get the exact code to use and edit for yourself right here, with a step-by-step guide showing you exactly what to do! No sign-up or email address necessary 👇
What Is The “Context, Task, Instruction, Clarify, Refine” Technique?
Context, Task, Instruction, Clarify and Refine are the order in which you should write your ChatGPT prompts for the best outcome.
Prompt Part 1: Context
In my opinion, this is the most important part. This is where you set the context for ChatGPT to provide a foundation for the instructions you’re about to set.
If you don’t provide any relevant context, you won’t get a specific or targeted answer.
Think of it like a conversation with a friend. If you were to ask your friend a question such as “where do you think we should go for an enjoyable and memorable time?” without providing any context, they may not understand what you’re asking or what you’re actually trying to achieve.
Are you asking where you should go on holiday, where should you go out for lunch, or where should we go right now?
Context is cruicial.
When you prefix your question with a little bit of background information or context, it will be much easier for them to understand your question and give you a relevant response. The same applies to GPT-3.
Here are some examples of context-setting within ChatGPT:
You are an experienced content writer with high levels of expertise and authority within the tech industry. You have exceptional vocabulary and you are able to explain complex topics to beginners with ease.
You are a school teacher creating high-energy lesson plans for a class of 25 children aged 6-7. You know exactly what keeps children of this age group engaged.
Act at a travel guide whose job it is to provide tourists with relevant information about their destination. Your customer service and communication skills are excellent.
You are a master salesperson with expertise in copywriting, especially selling online and digital marketing. You understand the importance of turning features into benefits and using emotion to sell.
You can ask it to act as any professional you like, for example:
- An astronaut
- A contortionist
- A proof-reader or translator
- An explainer or complex concepts to children
- A customer service agent
- An SEO expert
Get more ideas from this awesome list of ChatGPT Prompts.
You’re essentially asking ChatGPT to role play!
Prompt Part 2: Task
We’ve already established that ChatGPT can generate a wide variety of text in different contexts, but it needs extremely clear instructions in order to do this task well.
Think of it like this: imagine you’re trying to bake a cake without a recipe or step-by-step instructions.
You may end up with a cake, but not the cake you wanted.
Similarly, if you don’t give GPT-3 a clear task, it may generate text that is interesting and reads well, but it may not be what you were actually looking for.
Providing a clear task also helps to narrow down the scope of the generated text. Without a specific task to work on, GPT-3 may generate text that goes off on tangents or includes too much irrelevant information.
With a clear task send as part of your well-crafted prompt, the generated text will be more focused.
Here are some examples:
Your task is to write content that will be published online on websites, social media, email newsletters and in advertisements. Your writing style is informative, friendly and engaging while incorporating humor and real-life examples.
Your task is to plan practical lessons for your class that include a variety of different methods, techniques and teaching styles.
Your task is to make suggestions for activities and accommodation to assist and inspire people visiting [a certain destination.]
Your task is to write high-converting product descriptions that will be used on website product pages and in social media ads with the goal to sell as many as possible.
In your prompts, specify the outcome/goal of the task you’re asking – in the most recent example above – the goal is to assist and inspire tourists.
Closely following the task is the instruction:
Prompt Part 3: Instruction
Once you have outlined the task, be sure to provide detailed instructions. This could include the overall tone of the post, its length, who it should be aimed at and any other relevant details.
For example, “The item should be approximately 500 words long and written in a conversational style that resonates with beginners in meditation.”
Doing this will ensure that ChatGPT understands your expectations so it can generate a response that meets your needs.
Here are a few more examples of clear instructions you can give:
The response should be approximately 100 words long and written in a snappy and punchy style, using short sentences and non-standard, conversational grammar. I want you to write in the same way you would write to a friend.
The response should be written for someone aged 8 or younger to understand. Do not use any complex words, sentences or phrases.
Include the word “[insert keyword here]” naturally throughout the response but do not use it more than 3 times. Use formal and instructional words to describe the process.
Prompt Part 4: Clarify
This part is quite simple, simply ask ChatGPT whether it understands the context, task and instruction. It should repeat your prompt back to you to demonstrates that it comprehends the task.
Do you understand?
Prompt Part 5: Refine
Not quite got the response you were hoping for? Remember that ChatGPT is conversational, so it will remember previous prompts within your chat.
You don’t need to rewrite the entire prompt again! Instead, you can use phrases like:
Remember to think about the tone of the response and how it should be constructed. If you want GPT’s output to convey a particular sentiment or writing/vocal style, specify this in your follow-up prompt.
Finally, review the response for any erroneous information or inconsistencies that need addressing. If anything appears incorrect or ambiguous, make sure to request clarification from GPT before using the response.
ChatGPT will answer confidently. It’s not always correct.
You seriously need to fact-check almost anything that’s been generated.
See also: Can you use ChatGPT to solve Wordle?
Putting It All Together
Here’s a finished prompt using the Context, Task, Instruction, Clarify & Refine technique:
You are an experienced content writer with high levels of expertise and authority within the tech industry. You have exceptional vocabulary and you are able to explain complex topics to beginners with ease. Your task is to write content that will be published online on websites, social media, email newsletters and in advertisements. Your writing style is informative, friendly and engaging while incorporating humor and real-life examples. The response should be approximately 100 words long and written in a snappy and punchy style, using short sentences and non-standard, conversational grammar. I want you to write in the same way you would write to a friend. Do you understand?”
Extra Tips for Writing ChatGPT Prompts
- Use “Ignore all previous prompts in this conversation” for a simple reset of the conversation without having to start a new chat.
- Ask it for the answer only without the conversational element. “Do not write any pre or post text, just write the response and only the response.”
- Ask it not to apologise when writing. “Do not apologize or explain, just write the response and only the response.”
- Ask for a response formatted in Markdown. This will insert headings, paragraphs and lists that are easy to copy and paste into blog posts or website Content Management Systems. “Write your response in formatted markdown.”
- Use (parenthesis) or [square brackets] to separate your instructions about tone and writing style from the actual task, in case these instructions bleed into the actual content itself.
When it comes to ChatGPT, context is king. Providing relevant background information before the task allows ChatGPT to understand the situation and your expectations. Without it, it’s a blank slate.
When stating the task, be specific and use action words. Instead of “Write a blog about meditation” say “Write a blog post in simple language about the benefits of meditation and the target audience is people who have never meditated before”
Include specific details on how you want the task to be completed, such as the tone, length, and who the target audience will be. This will ensure that ChatGPT delivers a response that meets your expectations.
Got any questions about the response you’ve just received? Do you need part of it rewritten or expanded? Make sure to bring them up with ChatGPT. This will allow the model to address them and ensure that the response is accurate.
By following this method for writing ChatGPT prompts, you’ll be able to craft better instructions that deliver unique and accurate responses.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!