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Contrary to popular belief, ChatGPT doesn’t think.

It doesn’t understand what you’re saying. Rather, tools like ChatGPT function by predicting the next best word.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure you’ve got a grasp on prompt engineering when using AI language models.

Prompt engineering is the intentional use of language that guides AI to give desired outputs and can help optimize your use of AI. Let’s unravel the intricacies and capabilities of prompt engineering, six prompting techniques, and simple tips that will empower you to get the most out of AI for your association.

What is Prompt Engineering and Why Should Associations Use It?

At its core, prompt engineering involves a calculated orchestration of language to direct AI models toward generating desired outputs. The magic lies in structuring prompts that shape AI behavior in ways that echo your objectives. This dual-pronged approach entails ensuring the next words generated are precisely what we need while injecting a specific intent to craft outcomes that resonate with your goals.

Not only can prompt engineering help you reach your goals, but when used correctly, it can also be invaluable when navigating complex tasks. By presenting intricate problems as a series of strategic prompts, you can guide AI models to produce coherent and precise solutions. For example, ChatGPT could create a comprehensive marketing plan for your team’s annual conference based on each member’s specific roles and your organization’s overall goal.

Related: Can ChatGPT Become an AI Tool for Associations? Learn More >

6 Types of Prompt Engineering Techniques

As you explore prompt engineering, it’s critical to understand the six techniques you can use to master your AI outputs.

  1. Information/Instructional Prompting: This cornerstone method involves furnishing AI models with explicit or implicit instructions. The precision of these instructions is pivotal, dictating the course of the AI's response. Well-constructed prompts lay the foundation for accurate outcomes.
  2. Roles: Imbuing AI models with distinct roles imparts unique perspectives or identities. This creative avenue often yields captivating content that aligns seamlessly with the desired output, adding a dash of personality to your AI-generated responses.
  3. Few-Shot Prompting: In scenarios where training data is scarce, few-shot prompting empowers AI models to conjure meaningful outputs with minimal training examples.
  4. Chain of Thought: This approach compels AI models to engage in structured thinking or reasoning sequences, mirroring human thought processes. Especially apt for intricate questions or concepts, it enables the generation of responses that navigate complexities adeptly.
  5. Think, Reason, Plan, Answer: This technique instructs AI models to follow a structured pattern of thinking, reasoning, planning, and answering. It safeguards against shallow or incomplete responses, yielding thoughtful and well-reasoned outputs.
  6. Prompt Chaining: By stringing together multiple prompts in succession, prompt chaining builds upon previous prompts, furnishing additional context and guidance. This methodology offers a comprehensive framework for shaping AI behavior.

It’s key to note that the first five techniques involve using one prompt, while the final technique—prompt chaining—uses multiple prompts.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Prompt Engineering: Improve Your Input for Better Output  Learn More >

Top 10 Simple Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your AI Tools

No matter the technique you use, these simple tips can help you leverage this advanced technology to achieve your revenue and membership goals.

  • Use the OpenAI Playground. The OpenAI Playground is a user-friendly interface that allows you to interact with ChatGPT models and gain deeper and more contextual chat results.
  • Be specific. Provide a clear, specific prompt, which can include your role, process, and goals. The more precise your instructions, the better your results will be. 
  • Ask AI to explain itself. Ask “Why did you do this?” to understand the tech’s logic.
  • Think step by step. You may not understand the answer you received, so ask ChatGPT to reveal its step-by-step thinking process.
  • Avoid biased language: Be cautious of asking the AI leading questions that might introduce biased or inappropriate content. Prompt the AI to provide objective and unbiased information.
  • Experiment with variations: Don't hesitate to experiment with different phrasings or prompts. Sometimes a slight rewording can yield more relevant or creative responses.
  • Review and refine: Always review the AI's response. If it's not exactly what you were looking for, consider refining your prompt and asking the AI to try again.
  • Offer examples: Using the few-shot prompting technique, present the AI with a few examples of what you want, and it will often be able to generate the desired content.
  • Build on previous responses: If a single prompt isn't enough, consider using prompt chaining. Use multiple prompts in succession to build on previous responses and provide additional context.
  • Break down complex requests: If you have a complex question or task, break it down into smaller parts. Ask the AI to think, reason, plan, and then answer. This often leads to more structured and thoughtful responses.

Become a Prompt Engineering Pro

Interested in learning more about how you can get usable results from AI? Sign up for our free, on-demand webinar, "How to Get Useable Results from AI: An Introduction to Prompt Engineering for Association Professionals," where you’ll also gain an understanding of how AI works, key use cases for your organization, and specific prompting techniques.

Watch On-Demand Webinar Now

Allison Kral
Post by Allison Kral
August 25, 2023
Allison is a senior consultant at Ready North. She joined the agency in March 2021 and is a 2014 graduate from Ohio University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. With a background in magazine journalism, Allison harbors a love for writing and storytelling. She loves creating compelling content that engages readers and ignites conversations. Allison enjoys working in a fast-paced industry where she can grow, learn, and test her skills. She thrives in environments where she’s able to wear many hats—including writing, editing, marketing, social media management, and more.