A Beginner’s Guide to Prompting ChatGPT

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Engaging with AI, especially language models like ChatGPT, is akin to learning a new language—a language that is structured, nuanced, and surprisingly responsive. To start, imagine ChatGPT as a highly intelligent assistant who’s eager to help but needs clear instructions. This tutorial will show you how to craft effective prompts that yield the best results.

First, familiarize yourself with markdown, a simple coding language that helps you structure your prompts clearly. Think of it as the grammar of AI prompting—where headers, bullet points, and bold text can help AI understand your needs better. Begin by outlining your request with a clear title, then use subheadings to break down your needs into actionable items.

Next, be concise but detailed in your communication. The more specific you are about what you want, the better ChatGPT can assist. For example, rather than saying “I need help with writing,” say “I need help writing a fundraising email for an environmental NFP focusing on reforestation.” This gives the AI a clear direction.

Remember that prompting is iterative. You may not get the perfect response on your first try, and that’s okay. Refine your prompts based on the responses you receive. If the output is off-target, tweak your instructions, add examples, or clarify your request. Each iteration is a step closer to mastery.

Lastly, always use the components of markdown to guide the structure of your prompts. Use headers to define sections, lists to offer detailed instructions, and bold or italic text to emphasize key points. This structure helps AI follow your line of thought and deliver structured responses in return.

Kyle Behrend