Interacting with an AI assistant like Claude is a two-way conversation. To get the most out of your digital assistant, you need to know how to provide useful prompts that set it up for success. Follow these prompt writing tips when chatting with your AI:
Be Direct and Clear
Don’t beat around the bush when posing questions or requests to your AI assistant. Vague or ambiguous prompts will lead to vague and ambiguous responses from the AI. Get straight to the point and be as specific as possible about what you want it to do. Break down complex instructions into simple, step-by-step prompts to guide the AI.
Provide Sufficient Background
Don’t assume your AI assistant has any implied common sense or knowledge about your request. The AI only knows what’s in its training data! Give sufficient background and context in your prompts to set the AI up to respond appropriately. If you’re asking about a specific person or event the AI isn’t likely familiar with, give a brief explanation.
Ask Focused Questions
Open-ended questions can sometimes lead your chatbot down useless tangents. If you want specific info, ask specific follow-up questions rather than overly broad ones. You’ll get better results by being laser-focused on the information you need.
Check Responses and Follow Up
Your AI assistant is learning all the time. Check its responses to see if they actually provide what you were looking for, and follow up if it seems off track. You can rephrase your original prompt or ask clarifying questions to get the AI back on a useful path. Consider it a collaborative process.
Test the Limits
Feel free to get creative in testing the limits of your AI assistant’s capabilities. Novel prompts encourage the AI to expand what it can handle. Just be sure to provide plenty of guidance and background if you’re requesting something unusual or complex.
Give Your AI a Role to Play
When chatting with your AI assistant, it can be hugely beneficial to explicitly give it a role to play, such as teacher, travel agent, cooking assistant, or even friend. Defining a role provides necessary context that your AI needs to adapt its responses and language appropriately.
Without any framing, your assistant has no way of knowing how to act or what kind of information you need. A vague conversation with an undefined AI assistant can quickly go off the rails. But when you assign a clear role, it focuses the dialogue and reduces misunderstandings.
The role you give your AI doesn’t have to be rigid or limiting. Think of it as providing a general framing, tone, and personality that fits your needs for that particular conversation. Just tell your assistant “Act as my tutor and explain this concept to me.” Or “Pretend you’re a museum tour guide and describe this painting.”
Taking on a role allows your AI to access the right knowledge, terminology, and communication style to have a productive, natural dialogue. With the power of role-playing, your AI assistant can become an even more effective conversation partner!
Some Prompt Examples You Can Try
To see your AI assistant’s skills in action, give some longer, more descriptive prompts like these a try:
- “Imagine you are an art museum tour guide named Sam leading a group through the impressionist gallery. In an enthusiastic but professional tone, explain the key characteristics of Monet’s painting style and describe what makes his Water Lilies painting a quintessential example of impressionism.”
- “Act as a friendly chess tutor named Alex teaching me, a novice player, strategies for the first 10 moves as white in a classic game opening. Use simple, straightforward language to clearly explain the objectives of different standard openings and why they are solid foundational openings for white.”
- “Pretend you are a home repair specialist named Jamie and I’m a customer needing help fixing my broken kitchen faucet. Walk me step-by-step through how to remove the faucet handle, disassemble and inspect the internal parts, replace any faulty washers or O-rings, and reassemble everything to get the faucet working again.”
- “You’re an accomplished pastry chef named Pat teaching me how to bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Explain in a warm, patient tone the key steps from mixing dry and wet ingredients properly to getting the baking time and temperature right. Share any tips to ensure the cookies turn out perfectly chewy.”
- “Imagine you are a professional genealogist named Gene helping me trace my ancestry. I’ve hit a roadblock finding records about my great-grandfather who I believe was born in Ireland around 1885 before immigrating to New York City. In a warm, encouraging tone provide step-by-step guidance for how to locate passenger manifests, naturalization records, birth/marriage/death certificates, and other documents that could shed light on his origins and immigration journey. Feel free to ask clarifying questions if you need any additional details from me. Your role is to patiently coach me through breaking through this genealogy brick wall using targeted record searches.”
Prompt for Haiku
To showcase your AI’s creative writing skills, try a prompt like:
- “Write a haiku poem about viewing cherry blossoms in spring. Describe the delicate pink flowers blooming on branches and scattering in the wind. Convey a tranquil, reflective mood. Follow the 5-7-5 haiku structure with 3 lines and appropriate season word.”
This provides context about the haiku’s theme, asks the AI to use descriptive language and imagery, gives guidance on mood and structure, and defines the specific creative writing form. Framing poetic prompts in this way allows your AI to tap into its artistic expression. You can guide it to compose haiku, limericks, sonnets, and more on any topic you choose!
See also my post about writing haiku with ChatGPT.
Giving longer prompts with more conversational detail and specific instructions allows your AI assistant to generate richer, more natural responses. Don’t be afraid to really set the scene and adopt a persona when framing your requests! For even more, see my post Multi-step prompting for Claude.
Please share what you’ve learned about effective prompts that you’ve discovered!
Credit: Drafted with the assistance of Claude, an AI assistant created by Anthropic.