Communication Prompts For More than AI - A close up of two business people sitting at a table and talking with coffee and papers.

Communication Prompts: For more than AI

In an effort to write this, I asked AI to share with me 5 ways to create better prompts. Here is what it said:

“Sure, I’d be happy to help you write about creating better prompts for AI systems like myself.

Here’s an outline with 5 tips:

1. Be Specific

When crafting prompts, it’s important to be as clear and specific as possible about the task you want the AI to perform.

Vague or ambiguous prompts can lead to confusing or unhelpful responses. Provide necessary context and details to ensure the AI understands exactly what you’re looking for.

2. Use Examples

Providing examples of the kind of output you’d like can be incredibly helpful for an AI. If you want it to follow a certain format, tone, or structure, give a concrete example that demonstrates what you have in mind. This gives the AI a clear reference point.

3. Break Down Complex Tasks

For particularly complex or multi-step tasks, it can be useful to break the prompt down into a series of smaller steps or sub-prompts. This makes it easier for the AI to understand and follow the logical flow. You can feed it each component one at a time.

4. Provide Constraints or Guidelines

Depending on the use case, you may want to give the AI certain constraints or guidelines to follow when generating its response.

For example, specifying a word/character limit, asking it to avoid particular phrases, or instructing it to take a specific viewpoint.

5. Be Iterative

Don’t be afraid to refine and adjust your prompts based on the AI’s initial responses. Prompt crafting is often an iterative process of tweaking and course-correcting until you get the desired output. Incorporate feedback from the AI’s responses into your next attempt.

Let me know if you’d like me to elaborate on any of those points or provide some examples as we start fleshing out the actual blog post content.”

How you communicate matters.

When I read through these five excellent recommendations, it made me think about the power and value of your communication skills.  Whether you are communicating with a human being on your team or an AI tool, how you communicate matters.

Let’s look at it a bit closer.

1. Be Specific

When working with your team, being specific matters too. When you are vague, or you think people can read your mind or have the same “common sense” as you, there is a good possibility you won’t get the outcomes you’re looking for.

The more specific you are when communicating with others (especially in setting expectations and deadlines), the better you are at equipping them for high performance.

This is especially true when you communicate something new for the first time. You should never assume that someone understands what you are sharing; you should always check for understanding to ensure your communication is specific and clear.  A great way to do this is to simply ask them to explain it back to you so you can be sure that you were clear.

Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure someone else understands, not theirs.

2. Use Examples

When asking your team to take on a project or task, using examples of how it has been done before can be extremely helpful.  Often, the biggest hurdle is getting started, and an example can shortcut the inertia someone feels about how to do exactly that.

Examples can be a physical example, story, or metaphor around how it’s been done before. On my team, we talk a lot about providing the right context for people to be successful. Context is a way to frame a conversation or provide someone with an example that makes it easier for them to understand what needs to be done.

Another excellent way to provide an example is to walk someone through the example using a Loom video while you explain things. This allows them to refer back to your example anytime they need to.

3. Break Down Complex Tasks

Many years ago, I took a course called Information Mapping. It is likely one of the most impactful courses I ever took in terms of learning how to chunk down complex ideas into simple steps.

One rule of info mapping is no process or procedure should have more than 9 steps. If it does, you have more than one process or procedure.

Consider the complexity you are giving your team. Can they walk through 9 simple steps and get it done? Or are you providing them with an 18-page document, with every exception imaginable added in?

Are you making something that should be easy, far more difficult to do?

No one wants to do a poor job, but like I mentioned last week, 94% of failures are caused by the system, not the human.

4. Provide Constraints or Guidelines

Think about constraints or guidelines as guardrails that help people be successful.  Constraints would include things like deadlines, budget, and amount of time it should take to complete, whereas guidelines are a way to shape how you’d like something done.

Good guidelines are flexible and should empower someone to do a great job, whereas constraints are less flexible and really showcase what you expect in a more specific way.

5. Be Iterative

Sometimes, we are not great at communicating what we need from our team, and we need to come at it from a different way for our communication to be fully understood. This is why I am a fan of asking people to explain things back to me – it showcases where my communication is weak.

When you do this, it is a perfect use case for you to iterate how you’ve explained something to ensure it is being understood in the manner you wish for it to be.  Most people fail to do this, and because they do not check for understanding, they end up needing to be iterative after mistakes happen.

Course correct early by verifying your communication has been clear.

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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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